The sister of a Terrace woman brutally murdered in 1998 will not be circulating a petition this year to help block the killer’s parole. Anita Johnstone will be attending the parole hearing for Christopher Alexander, and continue to fight against his release, but she says she hasn’t been given enough time to organize and submit a petition to the parole board 30 days in advance, as required.
“It’s all been last minute,” Johnstone said. “We don’t have a date yet except that it will be sometime in April. I can’t book hotels, I can’t book time off work—we’re just going to have to go without the petition this time.”
In 2002 Alexander was sentenced to life in prison for the second-degree murder his 36-year-old neighbour, Linda LeFranc. Then 17-years old and armed with a knife, Alexander used a key known to be hidden outside the front door to gain access to LeFranc’s townhouse on Dec. 9, 1998. He stabbed LeFranc her 83 times. Her body was found by her seven-year-old daughter.
Johnstone said this will be the 11th or 12th hearing she’s attended since Alexander became eligible for parole. In that time she feels he has not shown remorse nor taken responsibility for the murder, and worries for public safety that a convicted murderer assessed as a moderate risk to re-offend, is given the right to request a parole hearing every 12 months.
“You never get to move on. Everybody says, “well, just get over it, get on with your life.’ How do you do that when it’s always there beneath the surface. You shove it down until it claws back up to the surface and needs to be acknowledged again. We expose ourselves in the process, but we need…the people to know what type of person the parole board is potentially releasing into their communities.”
Johnstone attends the hearings for the main purpose of providing a victim impact statement.
“They’re not about my loss, or how this has all personally impacted my life,” she said. “It’s about embedding questions for the parole board, reminding them of things he [Alexander] has said, things he has done.”
In 2015, after 13 years of incarceration, more than half of which was spent at the minimum security Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village in the Fraser Valley, Alexander was granted day parole and released to a nearby halfway house. In June the following year, Alexander was arrested by Abbotsford police and charged with two counts of sexual assault. Those charges were stayed however when the alleged victim was either unable or unwilling to testify. Alexander was not allowed to return to the healing village, but sent to Mountain Institution medium-security federal penitentiary where he has remained since.
“To some degree it’s comforting he’s in an actual prison, but he’s not doing anything while he’s in there,” Johnstone said, referring to previous hearings. “He hasn’t been participating in any programs that I’m aware of, and that’s the issue. He’s an untreated offender. He has no insight into why he did what he did—except for the thrill. ‘That’s what he said [during trial], ‘for the thrill of it.’”
Update: A parole hearing has been scheduled for April 19 at the Mountain Institution near Agassiz, B.C.
Correction: Alexander was armed with a knife prior to entering Linda LeFranc’s townhouse. The print edition of the Terrace Standard incorrectly reported he used a knife found in her kitchen. The difference is important as it helped Crown prosecutors establish premeditation.
-with files from Margaret Speirs
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