Give Karissa a Voice movement underway
Outrage is growing over supervised leaves from prison for Penny Boudreau, the mother who murdered her daughter Karissa in Bridgewater on Jan. 27, 2008 and then said the 12-year-old girl ran away, leaving her body unfound for more than a month on the banks of the LaHave River.
Boudreau was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Karissa in Bridgewater Supreme Court on Jan. 30, 2009.
After nine-and-a-half years behind bars, on June 28 Boudreau was granted four escorted leaves from prison over the next year to attend church by the Parole Board of Canada. She must be escorted by two correctional service staff who are to remain within sight and sound of her at all times during the fourhour leaves.
The news came as a shock to Karissa Boudreau’s family.
“The family didn’t know prior to the decision being made, they didn’t know anything about it because they weren’t even told they needed to be properly registered as victims and so they found out like everybody else did, on social media,” said Wendy Whalen, a close friend of family.
“They didn’t know until after the fact, after the decision was made, so they were quite shocked,” she said, adding the family has now gone through the proper channels to register with Victim’s Services so that anything that comes up from here on in they’ll be contacted and be given a chance to have their say.
In the meantime, a grassroots movement is afoot to have the parole board revoke its decision to allow Boudreau passes to attend church.
“Ideally the goal is to get (the passes) revoked, but up we’re up against the Parole Board of Canada and they’re not known to change their mind. We’re not going to hold our breath on it. We’re going to fight it tooth and nail as much as we can,” said Whalen. “It’s quite unfair. It’s not right. She killed her daughter. She planned it and carried it out. She strangled her with her bare hands and she’s got a life sentence and there’s where she needs to stay. She’s got no right to be out there going to church. Karissa is six feet under. She has no say in this. That’s why we started the hashtag #givekarissaavoice.”
Whalen said numerous letters have been written to the parole board in opposition to Boudreau’s passes, and an online petition has gathered just over 3,600 signatures.
“We want the public to know what’s going on and people are outraged. They don’t want to see Penny Boudreau be given any of these privileges. A lot of people have written letters to the parole board. I hope somebody pays attention to us and hears our voice and know that is totally disgusting what has happened,” said Whalen. “She should not be getting out. The more people that join us, the more attention we get so who knows what will come out of this.”
Whalen, who is a close friend of Karissa’s aunt on her father’s side, has been by the family’s side since the horror story began to unfold.
“From when she was missing to all the court appearances…it will soon be 11 years. Something that traumatic, it’s pretty fresh in your mind for many years to come. It’s been pretty rough to have to see what this has done to her family.”
Karissa would have turned 23 on Oct. 4.
“She would have been doing something,” said Whalen. “She was a smart little girl. She wanted to grow up and be a veterinarian. She loved animals. That’s why we started doing pet food drives in her honour over the years and made donations to local animal shelters in her honour.”
Whalen said the family has always tried to keep a positive focus on Karissa.
“We didn’t want to focus on what happened to her, but now this has come up so the focus is more on the negativity of the whole thing,” she said. “It’s not a pretty thing to have to revisit.”