EDITORIAL – Wells Gray killer David Ennis must never be set free

Johnson and Bentley families (Image: Tammy Arishenkoff,

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

MASS MURDERER DAVID ENNIS, formerly David William Shearing, is up for parole in July, and thousands of people are fighting to make sure he stays in jail.

If he chooses to go in front of the Parole Board of Canada and ask for day parole or full parole, it will be his fourth attempt. In 2008, his application was denied, and again in 2012 after a petition against it collected more than 13,000 signatures.

In 2014, a similar application prompted a petition with more than 15,000. An online petition protesting the prospect of his release this year has attracted almost 40,000 names. On another occasion, he abandoned his application before hearings began.

Those who are too young to remember the events of 1982 can’t easily understand why so many people are determined to keep a man locked up almost 40 years after his crime.

Each time the question of Ennis’ parole comes up, family and friends of the murder victims have to relive the horror of his actions. This time is no different, but it’s important to understand what this man did and why he must not be released.

In the summer of 1982, Port Coquitlam couple George and Edith Bentley, their daughter Jackie of West Kelowna, her husband Bob Johnson, and the Johnsons’ young daughters Janet and Karen went camping near Wells Gray Park.

David William Shearing (now Ennis) in custody in 1982.

Ennis walked out of the woods and shot and killed all the adults. He kept the children alive for several days, sexually assaulting them numerous times before killing them, too.

Our justice system emphasizes rehabilitation but some people don’t deserve to walk the streets ever again, no matter how convincing a case they make that they’ve changed and are no longer a threat.

David Ennis is one such person. He deserves no compassion, no forgiveness and we simply can’t take the risk of him re-offending.

He must stay locked up.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8956 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Wells Gray killer David Ennis must never be set free

  1. Jerome Farrell // February 24, 2021 at 11:47 AM // Reply

    Totally agree,words are superfluous ,he should never be released.

  2. Beverley Campbell // February 23, 2021 at 10:01 AM // Reply

    Nothing can ever remove the horror of this story, this person should not be forgiven or forgotten nor should he ever walk free again, there are NO circumstances under which this should change.

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