Murder victim's family struggles with anniversary as world focuses on COVID-19
WARNING: This story contains graphic content
With the world around her seemingly falling apart, Jo-Anne Landolt planned to light a candle Wednesday night, pour a glass of wine and remember her niece, Kimberly Proctor.
Ten years ago this week, Landolt's family faced a very different type of crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic currently circling the globe.
But Kimberly Proctor's murder remains an open wound.
Every day — especially every March 18th — is a reminder of the 18-year-old Victoria woman who was raped, tortured and killed by two teenagers in 2010. And this year was no different.
'Emotions run wild'
Landolt was hoping that even as British Columbians self-isolate, social distance and adjust their lives, they might spare a thought for Kimberly Proctor and the many families like hers already coping with significant anniversaries of grief and loss.
"I run a business so it's being extremely affected by all this. So you have your livelihood in jeopardy, and then you've got the situation that happened ten years ago with Kimmy's murder coming to the forefront," Landolt says.
"It's ten years and you're just kind of wrapping your mind around that. It's emotional. It was emotional a month ago, and with all this happening, it's been a little disheartening. I don't know what you would even call it. It's emotions run wild."
Eligible for parole
Kimberly Proctor was lured to a home on March 18, 2010 by classmates Kruse Wellwood and Cameron Moffat, where the two bound and gagged her and then raped and beat her.
Wellwood was 16 at the time and Moffat was 17. The two confessed to suffocating and killing the girl, mutilating her body and dumping her on a hiking trail where they set her remains on fire.
Wellwood and Moffat, who were assessed as psychopaths with sexual deviance and conduct disorder, pleaded guilty to first degree murder and were sentenced as adults to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 10 years.
Which brings the clock to 2020.
Landolt says both Moffat and Wellwood are now eligible for full parole for the first time. Moffat has waived his hearing, but Landolt is concerned that Wellwood might still hope to convince a parole board to give him some measure of freedom.
She wanted to present a victim impact statement in person, but all that is up in the air with the Parole Board of Canada cancelling all observer attendance at its hearings until further notice due to COVID-19.
Corrections Canada is also suspending visits to inmates in the country's prisons.
Landolt doesn't believe Wellwood will get parole, but she wanted the chance to make the case in person.
She says the remote chance of Wellwood getting any kind of release means she's not too worried, but she knows other families of victims who are.
"We're not at a point where being present will have that deep effect on a decision," she says. "Our family's not at that point, but I can totally understand other people."
'It's another obstacle for us'
Landolt also worries about the potential loss of all the work and lobbying the family has done in the past decade to try to prevent similar murders and to ensure that teenagers who kill face an appropriate level of justice.
The family has met with politicians and leaders in a bid to set up early warning systems that would see troubled kids get treatment before they harm others.
Wellwood's father, Robert Raymond Dezwaan, was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of a 16-year-girl in Merritt, B.C., in 2001.
At a parole hearing last year where his bid for day parole was rejected, Wellwood blamed his crimes on his upbringing and exposure to his father's criminal behaviour.
Last year, Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite reintroduced The Safe Care Act, a bill the family had lobbied for as Kimberly's Law.
According to Thornthwaite's website, the act would "be used as a court-mandated action to protect children in worst-case scenarios involving self-harm, addictions, violent behaviour and sexual exploitation."
Landolt says that after nine years of fighting, the family is at a "standstill" with both levels of government when it comes to achieving the changes they want.
They still haven't been able to meet with B.C. Premier John Horgan. Landolt was supposed to meet with her member of Parliament in the next month, but like everything else in life, she suspects that will also have to be put on hold.
"It's difficult, especially when you want to achieve something and you're trying so hard," she says.
"This is another barrier that has come up that we'll have to wait until it gets knocked down and move forward. It's another obstacle for us."
'I just don't want people to forget'
Kimberly Proctor was a bright, bubbly teenager who almost "skipped" into a room when she entered, says Landolt. She was close to her parents, her cousin and her grandparents.
She was excited about beginning life as an adult. Landolt thinks she likely would have done something with animals.
"Her life was just starting out really," Landolt says.
"She was just a great kid that shouldn't have had this happen."
Landolt had planned to travel to Victoria this week to spend the anniversary with her parents.
But she says they are getting older and have some immune deficiencies and so she made the tough decision to stay away. For their health, her health and the health of everyone around her.
"With all that's going on, I just don't want people to forget," she says.
"We still have March 18, 2010 when our world completely turned and completely altered. I want people to know that."