Four thousand double-side pages filled with signatures have been sent off to the Parole Board of Canada with the goal of keeping a convicted killer behind bars.
David Shearing, who now goes by David Ennis, will be eligible for full parole this July. He was convicted of murdering three generations of a family: grandparents George and Edith Bentley, their daughter Jackie Johnson and her husband Bob, and her daughters Janet, 13, and Karen, 11.
Ennis murdered the West Kelowna family while they were camping in Wells Gray Park, back in 1982. He killed the four adults first, then held the two girls captive for a week.
He sexually assaulted and tortured the girls before killing them.
Tammy Arishenkoff, who was childhood friends with Janet Johnson, organized the petition urging the parole board to keep Ennis behind bars, launching it in February.
Since that time, it has garnered 88,469 signatures, equivalent to 4,000 pages. She sent off the signatures in a box, weighing 25 pounds earlier this week.
“A box of 4,000 pages is impactful. The hope is when he sees 4,000 pages plunked in his file of signatures from people that don’t have any interest in seeing him get freedom, that he’ll throw in the towel and waive his rights to this hearing and save us all the trouble,” she said.
She said that the amount of support she and members of the Johnson-Bentley family have received is humbling.
“What that support says too is that the memory of this kind is not fading anytime soon and that the public outrage is only growing when it comes to offenders like this being given these opportunities for parole when they committed the crimes they’ve done,” she said.
“People have had enough of these kinds of stories and they don’t want people like (Ennis) to have the opportunity to live amongst them in their community.”
She said the journey has been long and exhausting, but she, along with members of the Johnson-Bentley family, will keep fighting. In fact, Arishenkoff said she’s looking forward to the hearing, which she said will most likely be sometime in the summer.
“I’m personally looking forward to this hearing because I feel we’re on the cusp of something transformative,” she said.
She also said she wanted to thank everyone who has supported them along the way.
In 2008, 2012 and 2014, Ennis’ parole applications were rejected. 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.
Today, Ennis is incarcerated in a medium security prison. He has since changed his name, gotten married and has two kids.