New Brunswick

Convicted killer Kenneth Esson gets day parole months after being denied full parole

A Neguac man who murdered two teenagers and left another for dead in two small communities near Miramichi 34 years ago has been permitted to continue his day parole for another six months. 

Two murders and assault took place in summer of 1986 in Miramichi area

A frame from old video shows a man with a beard, wearing a jacket and a sweater. Another man wearing a suit is behind him.
Kenneth Esson was convicted of one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, and sexual assault. (CBC)

A Neguac man who murdered two teenagers and left another for dead in two small communities near Miramichi 34 years ago has been permitted to continue his day parole for another six months. 

The decision by the Parole Board of Canada comes four months after Kenneth Esson, now 56, was denied full parole and had his day parole revoked after it said he had an "unrealistic belief" he had no risk of reoffending. 

Esson has been serving a life sentence for first and second-degree murder, attempted murder and sexual assault since March 3,1987. His parole eligibility was set at 25 years.

"In coming to a decision to continue your day parole, the board remains ever mindful of the nature and gravity of your offences," the two board members wrote in the September decision. "You are responsible for the violent and brutal murder, sexual assault and attack on two young girls and your ex-partner."

Esson pleaded guilty to murdering 13-year-old Tara Prokosh and 19-year Theresa McLaughlin and the attempted murder of another teenager. 

Theresa McLaughlin was murdered by Kenneth Esson on Sept. 22, 1986. (CBC)

Prokosh and another teen were attacked by Esson on Aug. 11, 1986, after he followed them as the two were out biking on a dirt road in Lower Newcastle. 

Prokosh died but the other teen survived and was found the next morning by her family, who had spent the night searching for the two girls. 

While RCMP searched for the person responsible for the attack, they released a police sketch. Esson took pains to alter his looks by growing a mustache and getting a perm in his hair. 

Victim known to him

Six weeks after the attack on the young teenagers, Esson killed his former girlfriend, McLaughlin, who also lived in Neguac and from whom he was separating. 

Esson fled the province but returned and was arrested after a witness said he had been with McLaughlin. He was then linked to the first attack through descriptions of his vehicle.

The parole board decision, released from the Pacific Region which covers British Columbia, says Esson was denied full parole in January 2018 but granted day parole for three months.

The day parole was continued and reviewed without issues until it was revoked in May 2020, when Esson was seeking full parole again.

At that time the board said members felt Esson's "lack of insight" into several issues, including the sexual component of his reoffending, his lack of transparency with his case management team regarding a relationship and discontinuing his sex-drive-reducing medication found his "risk in the community was undue." 

Based on a psychiatric risk assessment requested by the parole board, it was noted by a psychiatrist that taking the medication was critical for Esson to manage his risk in the community. 

Esson's day parole was reinstated a month later with a change in the conditions, and he was given a written reprimand. The decision states Esson "gained further insight and appreciation for the need to be open and attentive to the details" of his risk management. 

As part of his condition to be allowed out on day parole again, Esson has to take his sex-drive-reducing medication. 

'Shock, horror, pain'

CBC News has learned Esson is living in a halfway house in Victoria, works full time and has weekend passes to stay in a basement suite he maintains. 

In the decision the parole board tells Esson they "remain ever mindful of the nature and gravity of his offences." 

"The extreme seriousness of your offences, and the significance of the harm you have caused cannot be understated. The long standing harm and impact on the victim and surviving family members is always front of mind." 

The parole board said the victim impact statements, which describe the "shock, horror, pain, overwhelming grief and trauma your actions caused," show Esson's violent actions still have a "profound effect on the surviving family members, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future." 


  • The name of one of Kenneth Esson's victims has been removed from this story because of a mandatory publication ban against identifying sexual assault victims, which was already in effect at the time of the crime.
    Oct 07, 2020 11:34 AM AT