BOWDEN, Alta. (CP) — A man convicted of murdering an entire family from British Columbia apologized Tuesday for his devastating actions, but it wasn’t enough to secure his release from prison.
The National Parole Board ruled David Shearing still has violent sexual fantasies, hasn’t completed sex offender treatment and is not ready for freedom.
“It’s quite hard to imagine any crimes more serious or more reprehensible than the ones you committed,” the board said after a hearing at Bowden prison north of Calgary. “There still is present a large number of risk concerns.”
Shearing shot and killed George and Edith Bentley, their daughter Jackie and her husband, Bob Johnson, while the family was on a camping trip in interior B.C. in 1982.
He kept the Johnsons’ daughters Janet, 13, and Karen, 11, alive for almost a week and sexually assaulted them before taking them into the woods, one at a time, and killing them, too.
All six bodies were stuffed in the Johnsons’ car, which was rolled down a hill and torched.
Shearing, who now goes by his mother’s maiden name of Ennis, pleaded guilty and received the maximum sentence of life without chance at parole for 25 years.
He told the parole board he is sorry for what he did.
“I continue to be shamed, thoughtful and aware of the devastation I have caused,” he said. “My actions will always cause me to feel an overwhelming sense of shame and a lifetime of pain and regret. I am and always will be deeply sorry for the loss I caused them.”
He said the decision to kill the two girls was selfish.
“The last weekend, after six days, I knew I was already responsible for the death of four adults and I knew it had to come to a conclusion,” he said. “I was very selfish and knew if I let them go I would be held accountable for what I had done.”
Shearing’s supporters, including the woman who married him 18 years ago, said he is a changed man.
“I have a hard time believing this man could kill a fly,” wife Heather Ennis said. “He feels remorse. I’ve watched him cry. This has hurt everyone. The time has come for him to work his way back.”
Several of the 25 friends and family of the victims who attended the hearing also addressed the board and lobbied to keep Shearing in prison.
Rod Woods, Bob Johnson’s nephew, pointed out that future generations of his family were lost by Shearing’s actions.
“He showed no mercy, no recourse — no second chance for them,” Woods said. “There should be no starting over for Mr. Ennis.
“He still has five life sentences to serve.”