cgy-kimberley-thompson

Kimberley Thompson was grabbed while on her way to kindergarten in 1980.

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan is expressing his "grave concern" to the federal public safety minister over the impending release of a convicted child-killer and rapist.

On Wednesday, following a three-hour hearing in Prince Albert, Sask., the National Parole Board granted Harold David Smeltzer day parole — to be served at a halfway house in Regina.

Smeltzer, 52, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in 1981 of murdering a five-year-old girl and raping three women in Calgary. He was also convicted of attempted rape.

His victims included three girls — aged 10, 11 and 17 — as well as two 27-year-old women.

Morgan said Thursday he sent a letter to Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan urging the goverment to review the parole decision and consider other options.

The safety of people in Regina may be in jeopardy otherwise, he said.

"Words cannot express the horror, revulsion and anger that all of us feel regarding the horrific acts that were perpetrated by this offender 28 years ago," Morgan told reporters Thursday.

"The fact it happened 28 years ago is no comfort for the families of the young victim or other victims that were raped or molested by this person."

In 1980, Smeltzer snatched Kimberley Thompson from a street in Calgary as she was walking to kindergarten. He put her into a bathtub and held her under water until she died. Then he stuffed her body into a garbage can.  

Family members who attended the parole hearing Wednesday said they were devastated he will be allowed to walk the streets again.

Kimberley's mother, Evelyn Thompson, called Smeltzer an "animal" and was outraged by the decision.

"You know, the people they take the lives from, they don't get reprieves, they don't walk out of their graves in 25 years," Thompson said. "But he can."

She wants people to lobby their MPs to change the law so that anyone given a life sentence has to stay in prison until they die.

After Smelter's arrest, he admitted to committing 40 other rapes. Calgary police are examining unsolved cases to see if new DNA technology can link Smeltzer to crimes which could lead to new charges.

Under Smeltzer's life sentence, he was required to wait 25 years before he could apply for parole. He was eligible in 2005, but didn't apply until this year.

Under the conditions of his release, he can't have contact with anyone under 18 and must continue programs and counselling he undertook while incarcerated. After six months, his day parole will be reviewed again.

Day parole means he can leave the halfway house for work or programs, but must return to the facility and remain there overnight.