Convicted killer charged with murder of another woman finished sentence in June

CALGARY — A Calgary man charged with murder in the death of a woman whose burned body was found in a park last month had completed his sentence for a similar killing less than a year ago.

Christopher Ward Dunlop, 48, was charged this week with second-degree murder and causing an indignity to a body in the death of 58-year-old Judy Maerz, whose remains were found by a passerby in Deerfoot Athletic Park on Feb. 16.

Police have said investigators don't believe Dunlop and Maerz knew each other before the evening of Feb. 15 and have not said how they met.

Dunlop had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Laura Furlan, who was found dead by a dog walker in another Calgary park in August 2009.

Court documents from his 2015 sentencing said Furlan was a 38-year-old Calgarian who had a 15-year-old son.

"She had been employed as an administrative assistant but had lost her job, and was concerned about not having enough money to pay her bills," said an agreed statement of facts. "Ms. Furlan had drug addiction issues. She was working as a sex trade worker the night that she died."

Dunlop admitted he picked Furlan up in his truck early on Aug. 25, 2009, and later told an undercover officer he was angry and looking for someone "who would not be missed."

The documents said Dunlop choked Furlan and then dumped her naked body in Fish Creek Provincial Park, where it was discovered two weeks later.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and another two years for causing indignity to a human body. He got 6 1/2 years credit for the time he spent in custody waiting for trial.

Documents from the Parole Board of Canada show Dunlop was pre-approved for statutory release in December 2019 and completed his federal sentence on June 3, 2022.

"The risk assessment that was conducted in order to make these decisions was based on the offender's behaviour at that time," said a letter from the board.

"As this offender is not currently serving a federal term of imprisonment, he is no longer under the authority of the Parole Board of Canada."

The board said in a December 2019 pre-release report that it considers social history when making decisions and noted he was exposed to parental substance abuse and the loss of a sibling to cancer.

It said he had two significant relationships, including one with his current wife who remained supportive at that time.

The board said alcohol had been a barrier to his success, but that he had reported being sober since his arrest.

A psychological risk assessment from 2017 suggested Dunlop had a low to moderate risk to reoffend.

"It is reported you took full responsibility for your offences," said the report. "It appears that you have the motivation for continuing to maintain necessary behavioural changes to help with lowering your risk.

"The clinician reported you admitted that a significant risk factor for yourself would be feelings of rejection or being used."

His release conditions included not consuming alcohol and not being in contact with the victim's family.

Calgary police Staff Sgt. Sean Gregson confirmed Dunlop's prior conviction Thursday at a news conference about his latest charges and said detectives have also been in contact with Furlan's family.

"This is going to bring up a lot of horrible memories for them as well," he said.

Dunlop is in custody and scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2023.

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press