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Mass murderer waives right to parole hearing

Six members of the Johnson and Bentley families from Westbank were brutally murdered at Wells Gray Provincial Park while they are on a camping trip in August of 1982. Their killer, David Ennis, has waived his right to a parole hearing scheduled for Sept. 4, 2014 and withdrawn his application for day parole.
Image Credit: Contributed
July 24, 2014 - 2:40 PM

WEST KELOWNA – Perhaps mass murderer David Ennis didn’t think he stood a chance at his upcoming parole hearing, but we may never know why he waived his right to the hearing today.

Ennis, who changed his name from David Shearing, was convicted in the brutal killings of six members of the Johnson and Bentley families from West Kelowna in 1982.

He had a parole hearing scheduled for Sept. 4 at the Bowden Institution in Alberta were he is serving life in prison. The hearing happens automatically every two years but the offender can waive his right to have one.

Ennis has also withdrawn his application for day parole, according to Gary Sears with the Parole Board of Canada.

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 in August 1982. 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. She was a friend of the Johnson family, especially Janet Johnson, who was a classmate.

Arishenkoff is happy with Ennis’ decisions.

“Maybe he’s seen the light and decided he doesn’t stand a chance against us,” she says. “I’m hoping that’s the reason. We don’t get a reason. I can only speculate.”

Arishenkoff and her team of volunteers have been working since April getting ready for the parole hearing and getting 15,258 signatures on a petition and hundreds of letters to the parole board.

Ennis will get another shot at parole in 2016 unless a private members bill from Ontario MP David Sweet is passed. Bill C-49 is a victims’ rights bill that would extend the length of time between parole hearings for convicted killers to five years from two.

Arishenkoff says the surviving families go through hell every two years when they confront Ennis at his hearing, adding they never get a chance to heal.

“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."

David Shearing is pictured in a 1983 file photo.
David Shearing is pictured in a 1983 file photo.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/files

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.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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