A petition is circulating to keep a man who murdered two families in Wells Gray Park in 1982 behind bars.
David William Shearing, now known as David Ennis, is up for full parole this July. He was convicted of murdering George and Edith Bentley of Port Coquitlam along with their daughter Jackie Johnson, her husband Bob and their two daughters Janet, 13, and Karen, 11, of West Kelowna at a campsite in Wells Gray Park.
After shooting the four adults as they sat around a campfire, Ennis held the two girls captive for a week, sexually assaulting and torturing them before killing them. He then put all six bodies in the family car and set it on fire.
The petition was launched by Tammy Arishenkoff, who lives in West Kelowna and was a classmate and childhood friend of Janet Johnson. She has continued the fight to keep Ennis locked up, joined in her effort by a small group of friends and Johnson relatives.
The petition already has more than 11,000 signatures and the hope is to reach 15,000 people who feel Ennis’ release into the community “would jeopardize the safety of all citizens, but more importantly our children. As well, the heinous nature of his crimes should preclude any possibility of release.”
If granted day parole, Ennis would be allowed to live in a halfway house, while full parole would give him access to the community.
“We strongly urge the Parole Board of Canada to once again deny parole and full parole to this murderer at the upcoming hearing scheduled for July 2021,” the petition states.
Those who sign the petition are also asked to include their comments as the petition will also be sent to Ottawa.
Ennis’ parole applications in 2008, 2012 and 2014 were rejected. A two-member National Parole Board panel in 2012 determined Ennis should re-enrol in a high-intensity sexual offender program before he could be released, and that he needed to spend time in a minimum-security institution to establish credibility during temporary absences before he could be paroled.
The Board also found at the time that his “sexual deviance in fantasy” remained, and he did not fully understand the risk factors for his behaviour or how to manage them.
In 2016, Ennis opted to revoke his parole application just prior to his hearing. He can reapply for parole before the Parole Board of Canada every five years.
A fact sheet from the Parole Board of Canada states protection of society is paramount in any release decision.
The change.org petition can be found here.