Not all monsters hide under the bed.
Anthony Shettell remembers his daughter as a 12-year-old who was afraid of the dark. At the time, he tried to reassure her he had scared the monsters away.
Seventeen years later, at the murder trial for the man who strangled his daughter, Shannon Collins, the heartbroken father recounted the memory in his victim-impact statement.
"She told me not all monsters hide under the bed," Shettell wrote. "Shannon was right."
On Thursday, Justice Donna Shelley sentenced Collins' killer, Shawn Wruck, to life in prison for second-degree murder. He will not be able to apply for parole for at least 13 years.
Wruck strangled his then-girlfriend Collins in 2007, then dumped her body in the snow on his parents' acreage in Strathcona County.
He moved on with his life, starting a family with another woman in Kelowna, B.C.
Years later, in 2012, RCMP launched an undercover "Mr. Big" investigation to uncover his crime.
Four officers acted out an elaborate set of scenarios, dubbed "Project Kolumbo," to elicit a confession.
Justice Shelley cited Wruck's character in her decision to set his parole eligibility at 13 years, three years more than minimum for second-degree murder.
"In this case, there's no evidence of Mr. Wruck abusing Collins previously," she said. "They had a volatile relationship."
Defence lawyer Ajay Juneja argued for the minimum 10-year period before Wruck is first eligible for parole. He said his client had a solid employment record and a mostly clean record, save for a dated driving offence.
Wruck plans to appeal
Outside court, Juneja said Wruck will appeal the decision.
"I don't think there's any sentence imposed that would satisfy me as, again, I assert my client's innocence," he said, adding that evidence collected by RCMP during their investigation was unreliable.
"I absolutely am not happy letting this go and I have instructed my client that it is in his best interest to file an appeal," Juneja said, adding the appeal process would take at least a year.
"I'm hoping the decision will be overturned on appeal and that Mr. Wruck will be cleared of this killing."
Crown prosecutor Jim Stewart had asked for at least 15 years before parole eligibility, urging Shelley to set an example for future domestic violence cases.
"Her task, in terms of assigning parole ineligibility, would include generally deterring future persons who may be inclined to murder their spouse," Stewart said after the sentencing.
"Taking the body of your murdered spouse and dumping it somewhere in the hopes to avoid detection should increase your liability."
'An ugly world'
During his sentencing, Wruck sat motionless except for the occasional tapping of one foot. His arms stayed crossed, his lips pressed tightly together.
The 43-year-old did not meet the eyes of Collins' family members as they read their victim impact statements, even when they addressed him directly.
"I have witnessed him smiling and at times even smirking at the most inappropriate times," Collins' cousin, Tracy Brochu, read from her statement.
"He has rolled his eyes and has seemed to look like we are all burdening him. He's had his head down, he's even fallen asleep at times."
She recalled the day her family first heard a recording of Wruck describing how he killed Collins. Brochu said she later found Collins' mother screaming on her knees in the courthouse washroom.
"I saw the tears stream down her face as my mother attempted to pick her up off the floor," she said. "As a mother myself, I can tell you that moment will forever be etched into my memory."
Maureen Collins told the court the details of Wruck's confession will haunt her forever. While she read her statement, she clutched a framed photo of her daughter as a five-year-old.
"There is no more trust in the people," Collins read out, her hands and voice shaking.
"This is an ugly world we are a part of," she said. "For me there is no forgiveness for such an ugly act performed on my daughter."
Outside court, Collins said she felt a mix of emotions about the year-long trial and its outcome.
"He had no right to take Shannon's life, none whatsoever," said Collins, who described her daughter as beautiful and giving.
"From my point of view, there's not enough time in the world for him to be behind bars."