An online petition started by the family of a woman murdered here in 1998 opposing parole for her killer has gathered more than 1,400 signatures.
Linda LeFranc’s family has also placed hard copy petitions in stores in both Terrace and Kitimat in hopes of preventing Christopher Maurice Alexander from being given day and full parole at a hearing scheduled for April.
He has, however, already been given a number of temporary passes since first becoming eligible following his murder conviction and subsequent life sentence, a circumstance that has consistently been opposed by LeFranc’s family over the years.
Previous applications for parole have been denied by the National Parole Board and LeFranc’s family has appeared at the hearings and has submitted written statements opposing the attempts.
Alexander, 17 at the time of the murder, broke into LeFranc’s Southside townhouse in the early morning hours of Dec. 9, 1998, stabbing LeFranc, then 36, 83 times with a hunting knife.
LeFranc’s seven-year-old daughter was in the home at the time.
“Our intent is not to exploit or sensationalize Linda’s death but to justify our extreme concern and continued position that Christopher Alexander remains a serious threat to public safety and should never be released,” reads a portion of a statement written by Anita Johnstone, a sister to LeFranc, which is posted as part of the online petition.
Alexander has spent the last years in a Fraser Valley federal facility.
In her statement, Johnstone said experts who have assessed Alexander indicate he has a moderate risk of reoffending.
“Confirming our fears, these professionals reported that even within federal corrections facilities, Alexander ‘could not’ be rehabilitated,” Johnston wrote.
“To have lost a loved one through such a violent crime for simply the “thrill of the kill”, is difficult enough, to accept such a criminal being released and living amongst us, is unimaginable.”
Alexander was found guilty of LeFranc’s murder and sentenced to life in prison at a trial here in 2002. He was arrested in Dec. 1999 after an extensive RCMP investigation that employed undercover police who first gained Alexander’s confidence in order to get him to talk about LeFranc’s death.
The technique used by RCMP officers is commonly called “Mr. Big” in which an officer poses as the leader of a criminal gang seeking to enlist their suspect but only after that person provides details of criminal activity in order to demonstrate they should be part of the gang.
It has been heavily criticized by defence lawyers and the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014 set new standards by which information from Mr. Big operations should be considered.
Alexander was originally charged with first degree murder and convicted of the lesser second degree murder charge after 16 hours of deliberation by a jury.
Alexander lived in a neighbouring townhouse to LeFranc whose hometown was Kitimat.