Mass murderer David Ennis (formerly Shearing) withdrew his application for day parole this week.
Tammy Arishenkoff, a representative of the Johnson and Bentley families that lost six of their own to Ennis in 1982, sent out an announcement about the hearing, Thursday.
“Ennis has waived his right to a full parole review and also withdrawn his application for day parole,” she wrote. “At minimum, we will not have to revisit this until 2016 and hopefully longer with pending new legislative changes to the existing parole system.”
Arishenkoff’s relief came at the tail-end of another exhaustive effort to keep Ennis blocked from getting release.
Drumming up public support while dredging up painful memories amounted to a significant community outpouring.
They collected a total of 15,258 signatures — 4,791 on paper and 10,467 online—for a petition to keep Ennis behind bars. A letter writing drive was also successful, but Arishenkoff isn’t sure of how many the parole board would have received.
She also doesn’t know why Ennis chose to pull his application at this stage.
“Maybe our numbers and news coverage made him realize he doesn’t have a chance,” she said.
In August 1982 members of three generations of the Johnson and Bentley families – George and Edith Bentley of Port Coquitlam, their daughter Jackie Johnson and her husband, Bob, of Westbank and their two daughters, 13-year-old Janet and 11-year-old Karen – were camping in Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Ennis stalked them for at least two days before he went to the campsite and shot the four adults so that he could kidnap the two young girls.
Over the next few days Ennis kept the girls hostage and sexually assaulted Janet. He eventually killed them as well, loaded all the bodies into one of the family’s vehicles and torched it in a secluded area of the park.
Their remains were discovered on Sept. 13, 1982. It was another 14 months before investigators tracked down Ennis.
In 1984 Ennis pleaded guilty to six counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.