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Family continues fight to block killer’s release from Vancouver Island prison

James Shortreed at William Head In Metchosin, parole hearing scheduled for Oct. 6
The family of Iris McNeil, who was murdered in 1997, has launched a petition to deny parole for the man who murdered her in 1997. James Shortreed’s hearing is scheduled for Oct. 6. (Photos courtesy of the McNeil family)

Crystal Brendzy is determined to continue her family’s battle to keep the man who murdered her aunt behind bars.

James Shortreed, who is incarcerated at William Head Institution in Metchosin, is serving an indeterminate sentence for bludgeoning Iris McNeil to death while she slept before stuffing her body into a freezer on July 23, 1997.

A petition Brendzy launched in April to be presented to the Parole Board of Canada continues to grow, with more than 2,700 signatures as of Sept. 27. It also includes comments from people who worked with McNeil when she was a Canada Border Services Officer.

Brendzy spoke to the Gazette in 2018 about the trauma the family endures during every parole hearing.

Although the hearing on Oct. 6 will be virtual because of COVID-19 restrictions, it is no less impactful because Shortreed is seeking unescorted temporary absences and day parole if he is not granted full parole, Brendzy noted in an email to the Gazette.

READ MORE: Family fights to block killer’s parole request at William Head

An unescorted temporary absence is granted for inmates, who are permitted, to leave the institution unaccompanied by Correctional Service of Canada staff.

“We believe our statements do make an impact so we continue to go to these hearings,” she said. “It’s the hardest thing to do. To stand up and share our experience and the impact of the murder of my aunt and our lives. We believe that he would offend and target women again.”

At the time of her aunt’s murder, no one knew about Shortreed’s violent history, which included assault, rape, and forcible confinement, Brendzy explained in an interview with the Gazette in 2018.

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