Mass killer David Shearing again denied parole for sex-motivated murders

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

Really, did anyone believe they'd let David Shearing out of prison?

The mass murderer, who wiped out three generations of a B.C. family in 1982 so he could have sex with two young daughters, was denied parole on Tuesday, The Canadian Press reports.

It's the second time Shearing, who now likes to use his mother's maiden name of Ennis, made his second unsuccessful bid for release from his life sentence for second-degree murder.

The National Parole Board, which held its hearing at the Bowden federal prison north of Calgary, said in its decision that it's hard to imagine crimes more serious or reprehensible than the ones Shearing committed.

"There still is present a large number of risk concerns," the board said in that strangely clinical language it uses in its rulings.

Despite Shearing's professed remorse, the board found Shearing had not completed sex-offender treatment and still had violent sexual fantasies, CP reported.

I suspect Shearing will never see the outside of a prison.

[ Related: Mass murderer David Shearing makes second bid for parole ]

In 1982, George and Edith Bentley, along with their daughter Jackie, her husband Bob Johnson and their daughters Janet, 13, and Karen, 11, were camping near Wells Gray Provincial Park in the B.C. Interior when they disappeared.

A few weeks later, a mushroom picker stumbled on the Johnsons' burned out car, which had been rolled down a hill with all six bodies stuffed inside. The Bentley's camperized pickup was found a year later, also torched.

Shearing's name came up amid a flood of tips given to police. Tracked down by the RCMP, he confessed he'd killed the family to cover up a botched robbery, the Calgary Sun reported.

But after he was sentenced he admitted his real goal was one of the Johnsons' young daughters.

He shot the adults as they sat around a campfire while the girls slept in a nearby tent, then convinced the terrified girls it was the work of a biker gang and that he would protect them. His real plan was to sexually assault the elder girl, Janet.

Shearing claimed at his his previous parole hearing he couldn't go through with it at first.

"I struck Janet in the stomach and told her to remove her clothes — she did, and she started to cry," he told his 2008 hearing, according to the Sun. "At that point, I lost the excitement I felt. I wasn't able to continue with the sadistic part of it."

Still, he managed to overcome his qualms, keeping the girls alive for six days and molesting Janet before he took them into the woods separately and shot them in the head.

Shearing told the hearing this time the decision to kill the girls was selfish.

"The last weekend, after six days, I knew I was already responsible for the death of four adults and I knew it had to come to a conclusion," he told the three-hour hearing. "I was very selfish and knew if I let them go I would be held accountable for what I had done."

Heather Ennis, who married Shearing 18 years ago, said he is a changed man.

"I have a hard time believing this man could kill a fly," she said, according to CP. "He feels remorse. I've watched him cry. This has hurt everyone. The time has come for him to work his way back."

But Shelley Boden, the Johnsons' niece and the slain girls' cousin, told CP the deep wound Shearing inflicted on her family hasn't healed in 30 years.

"It's just difficult for us," she said. "Every time he applies for parole it's like another scab has been ripped off and we bleed again."