Despite being denied day parole in September, Derik Lord, the man convicted of killing a friend’s mother and grandmother 28 years ago, has been granted regular escorted absences, something that has infuriated the victims’ family.
Kim Hill, whose aunt Doris Leatherbarrow and cousin Sharon Huenemann were killed on Oct. 5, 1990, said she received a letter from the Correctional Service of Canada stating that a warden has granted Lord escorted temporary absences in Chilliwack. Since January, Lord has been taking two eight-hour leaves a month to visit his family, Hill said. Lord has a wife and child and his parents also live in Chilliwack.
“We don’t feel we’re being protected when a convicted double murderer who can’t admit their guilt is walking around,” said Hill, whose father John Kriss is Leatherbarrow’s brother.
“I don’t feel safe and none of the family feels safe with the warden’s decision.”
Lord was denied day parole for the 11th time in September, largely because he continues to profess his innocence.
Lord, then 17, and, David Muir, 16, were students at Saanich’s Mount Douglas Secondary School in 1990 when schoolmate Darren Huenemann, 18, asked them to join in a plot to kill his mother and grandmother. Lord and Muir were promised part of a $4-million inheritance.
Lord and Muir took a ferry to Leatherbarrow’s Tsawwassen home. When they knocked on the door, the women recognized them as Darren’s friends and invited them in for dinner. They used crowbars and kitchen knives to murder Leatherbarrow, 69, and Huenemann, 47, and then staged a break-in.
All three teens were convicted of first-degree murder in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison.
Muir, the only one who has admitted his role in the killings, has been on full parole since 2003.
Hill believes that by continuing to deny his involvement, Lord is unable to be rehabilitated.
“In not admitting his guilt, he hasn’t had enough therapy to allow him to accept responsibility,” Hill said. “If he is still saying he hasn’t done it, how do you give him the therapy he needs?”
Hill, who attended Lord’s parole hearing in September and opposed his day release, recalls that one parole board member asked Lord whether if what he did was so horrific, he has blocked it from his mind. Lord dismissed that and told parole board members he’s determined to prove his innocence.
Hill met with the warden and sent a letter stating the family’s objections to Lord’s temporary absences.
Hill said the public has a right to know that “Derik Lord, as much as he’s been denied parole, is actually spending time in their community.”
An escorted temporary absence allows inmates, alone or in groups, to leave the institution while accompanied by a correctional officer. Such absences can be granted at any time in an offender’s sentence for medical, administrative, community service, family contact, parental responsibility, personal development or compassionate reasons, according to the Correctional Service of Canada.
In the federal system, the responsibility for temporary absences is shared between the Parole Board of Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada.
Temporary releases are typically granted when the warden or the parole board believes the inmate will not present an undue risk to society.
Lord is eligible to apply for parole again in September.