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Westbank effort to keep killer behind bars growing
Growing community support is energizing those working on a campaign to keep the man who killed six members of a Westbank family behind bars.
"It helps keep the fire burning to continue on with this process," said Tammy Arishenkoff, the woman organizing a letter writing and petition drive aimed at keeping David Ennis, formerly Shearing, in prison.
"So many people have stepped forward to help, and the family is grateful they don't have to go through this alone."
Ennis was sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole for 25 years for murdering George and Edith Bentley, Jackie and Bob Johnson, and their daughters Janet,13, and Karen, 11, in August 1982. The four adults were killed immediately, while the children were kept alive several days and sexually assaulted.
Now 53, Ennis has spent the bulk of his life in prison. He failed at a 2008 attempt to get parole, and is expected to take a second run for release at a Sept.18 hearing at the Bowden Institute, where he's housed.
Family and friends of the Johnson Bentley families intend to keep him there with an online and paper petition drive, as well as a letter writing campaign. Arishenkoff will also be at the hearing in person to read her statement on how life changed after her childhood friends and their families were murdered.
Petitions have to be completed and sent to the parole board by Aug. 1—and she's hoping more area businesses will be interested in keeping a petition— but the letter campaign has a much tighter deadline.
They have to reach the parole board in Alberta by July 2, which means they need to be in the mail by June 25.
"We're encouraging people to write these impact letters and send them in, they're going to have most effect on the parole process," she said.
Anyone wants to help by filling a petition sheet or writing a letter should just go to the Facebook page Johnson Bentley murders: Parole Petition—Keep Their Murderer Behind Bars.