Family and friends of a West Kelowna family who were brutally murdered during a camping trip 34 years ago have been given a slight reprieve.
David Ennis —who was previously known as David Shearing—waived his right to a parole hearing this year, and isn’t scheduled for another review until 2021. If Ennis applies for it, there could be another before that time.
Ennis pleaded guilty to the August 1982 murders of six members of the Johnson-Bentley family in 1984 and was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years.
In 2012 he went through with a parole hearing, prompting members of the family to dredge up painful memories in order to keep Ennis behind bars. He waived his right to a hearing in 2014.
Representatives of the family have said they will keep going to those hearings for as long as is necessary, despite the emotional and financial toll taken.
It’s a vow that was reiterated this week.
“We will continue this group as long as it takes to ensure he never gets out of prison and perhaps the realization that he will never, ever get out is finally setting in,” wrote Tammy Arishenkoff, on the Facebook page dedicated to informing surviving friends and family of the details of the case.
” I would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last eight years since the first hearing and who continue to support this endeavour each and every time. As they say, ‘it takes a village’ and this village made up of so many family, friends, community leaders, businesses, strangers and justice seekers is strong and only growing stronger.”
In August 1982 members of three generations of the Johnson and Bentley families were camping in Wells Gray Provincial Park. George and Edith Bentley of Port Coquitlam, their daughter Jackie Johnson and her husband, Bob, of Westbank and their two daughters, 13-year-old Janet and 11-year-old Karen were stalked by Ennis for at least two days before he went to the campsite and shot the four adults so that he could kidnap the two young girls.
Over the next few days Ennis kept the two girls hostage and sexually assaulted the eldest. He eventually killed them as well, loaded all the bodies into one of the family’s vehicles and torched it in a secluded area of the park.
Their remains were discovered on Sept. 13, 1982. It was another 14 months before investigators tracked down Ennis.