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Campaign to keep mass murderer behind bars begins again

(Left to right) Bob and Jackie Johnson with their daughters Janet and Karen just before leaving on their last camping trip in August 1982. The Johnsons and grandparents George and Edith Bentley from Westbank were brutally murdered at Wells Gray Provincial Park. Their killer, David Ennis, has a parole hearing on Sept. 4.
Image Credit: Contributed
April 17, 2014 - 1:38 PM

JOHNSON-BENTLEY KILLER’S PAROLE HEARING SEPT. 4

WEST KELOWNA – It’s a horrible tradition that puts the surviving members of the Johnson and Bentley families and their friends through hell.

Mass murderer David Ennis, also known as David Shearing, is up for a parole on Sept. 4.

In August of 1982 Ennis murdered grandparents George and Edith Bentley, parents Bob and Jackie Johnson and their two daughters Janet, 13, and Karen, 11, in Wells Gray Provincial Park. They were on a family camping trip. The two young girls were sexually assaulted, although that part of the crime didn't surface until after Ennis was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the six murders.

Since his first parole hearing in 2008, Tammy Arishenkoff has led the charge to keep him behind bars with petitions and letter writing campaigns.

Arishenkoff was a friend of the Johnson family, especially Janet Johnson, who was a classmate.

“He should never get out for what he’s done and he’s not an individual who has any comprehension about what he’s done or any remorse,” Arishenkoff said. “He needs to stop going before the (parole) board. He needs to stay in prison and accept his fate. Die there basically is what he should be doing.”

This time, Arishenkoff is using social media in a big way. Along with the Facebook group Justice for the Johnson-Bentley Families: Keep Their Killer Behind Bars! she is also using Change.org.

Change.org provides an efficient way to gather petition signatures. She is using a Facebook group to keep supporters up to date and to distribute a form letter people can print off and send to the parole board. 

“Every piece of information that goes to the parole board has to be reviewed,” she said. “The mound of stuff gets exponentially bigger every two years.”

Over 1,000 people have already signed the petition and she expects a lot more over the next six weeks of the campaign.

At his last parole hearing at the Bowden Institution in Innisfail, Alta. in 2012 over two dozen people showed up.

“The parole board had never seen that many people for a parole hearing for anybody never mind 28 or 30 years later,” she says.

Arishenkoff said she is cautiously optimistic they’ll be successful in September, adding all they can do is make sure their voices are heard.

Her secondary goal is to change the legislation that lets mass murders like Ennis apply for parole every two years once they are eligible.

She said the surviving families go through hell every two years as they confront Ennis at his hearing and are reminded of the horrible events of 1982.

“The family never gets a chance to heal. “

For more on Arishenkoff’s campaign to keep David Ennis behind bars you can go to her Facebook page or Change.org.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at halexander@infotelnews.ca or call 250-491-0331. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Murder victims Edith and George Bentley.
Murder victims Edith and George Bentley.
Image Credit: Contributed

- This story was updated at 11:57 a.m., Saturday, April 19, 2014 to clarify that the form letter is available on Facebook.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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