VANCOUVER—Relief. Happiness. And a sense that after all these years, finally, there is justice.
Families of serial killer Clifford Olson’s victims are expressing a range of emotions about his imminent death. One thing, however, remains constant for them — their grief never ends.
In a Quebec hospital, cancer is eating away at Olson’s body.
Corrections Canada has informed the family he has just days to live, giving them time to absorb the reality that the monster who forever changed their lives is now about to die.
“It’s hell, but it’s a good hell,” said Dee Johnston, stepmother of 13-year-old Colleen Daignault, who was killed after being stalked by Olson as she planned to take a bus to her grandmother’s house.
“He’s dying of cancer, a cruel, hard death. What goes around comes around. He’s getting his just due,” she told the Toronto Star.
Olson, who once described himself as the “beast of British Columbia,” is serving 11 consecutive life sentences after he was convicted in 1982 of killing eight girls and three boys.
He has been in jail for almost 30 years and accumulated a small fortune in government pensions, according to claims he made to a reporter last year.
When he dies, Olson could be claimed by a family member who will decide how to dispose of his remains. If no family member steps forward, Corrections Canada will turn the body over to the coroner’s office. But one thing Corrections Canada will not allow is for any ceremony or memorial to be erected in Olson’s name.
“No such thing will be allowed,” said Serge Abergel, spokesman for Corrections Canada in Quebec, where Olson has been imprisoned at a maximum security prison.
“If an inmate wants to glorify himself, and falls under the responsibility of corrections, the way things are done will be done with respect to the deceased as well as the victims.”
If Olson has no money and no will his burial will be provided at public expense, including burial clothing and the installation of a grave marker. Abergel said those details would be left with the coroner’s office and no notice would be given of where he is buried.
For privacy reasons, Corrections Canada is not releasing any details about Olson’s medical condition or his current status except for confirmation that he remains under their care.
News of Olson’s decline has brought back public revulsion over a serial killer who once terrorized a nation. The now 71-year-old killer had been a teenage bully and thief, then turned into a police informant, rapist and serial killer. Whether he was eluding police or behind bars, Olson was a sadistic manipulator, always seeking attention.
He made headlines last year when he tried to send a donation to the Conservative Party of Canada and asked for a tax receipt. The party rejected his contribution. For years, he called reporters and wrote letters until Corrections Canada curbed his desperate attempts to draw attention to himself.
He told Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington that he has over $100,000 in a Quebec bank and revealed he’s been collecting Old Age Security payments from Revenue Canada of about $1,200 a month.
“What good is money to me? I got no use for it, if you get what I’m getting at. I guess I gotta make a will in case I get a heart attack or something. Don’t want these bastards getting my money,” Olson said to Worthington.
Olson collected $100,000 from the RCMP after he made a deal to direct them to where he had buried the bodies of his victims. That money had been left in a trust for his then-infant son Clifford, Jr. and his estranged wife, Joan.
“This man committed atrocities and the things he did to our children were terrible,” said Johnston. “For anyone who thinks this is closure, this is not.”
In B.C.’s interior, Marie Wolfsteiner said any news of Olson, who killed her daughter Sandra, just “stirs up the families.”
Sandra Wolfsteiner, a pretty 16-year-old brunette living with her sister in Langley, was hunted down by Olson just four days after the killer’s wedding in May 1981 and was killed in the bush in Chilliwack about an hour east of Vancouver.
“He isn’t gone yet,” Marie Wolfsteiner said Wednesday. “I’m not even interested anymore. I just want it to go away.”
Although pig farmer Robert Pickton, charged with killing 20 women and convicted of killing six, is considered Canada’s worst serial killer, Olson’s crimes — targeting vulnerable children — have made him a flashpoint.
Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd said Olson generated a great deal of fear during the eight months of his killing spree between 1980 and 1981.
“There was the subtext that being an informer for the RCMP that he was somebody who really wasn’t on the radar who ought to have been on the radar,” he said Wednesday. “Clifford Olson has become part of the debate about the reinstatement of the death penalty and a poster boy for the abolition of the faint hope clause.”
Boyd said Olson continued to engage in tactics of manipulation even from behind bars such as requesting parole board hearings and trying to engage with the public through acts such as selling items online.
“You can’t say anything positive about the impact he’s had on the criminal justice system, it’s just negative no matter which way you turn,” said Boyd. “It’s difficult to feel any sense of his loss at his death.”
For Sharon Rosenfeldt, news of Olson’s illness wasn’t a complete surprise. In late August, she was informed by Corrections Canada that the man who killed her 16-year-old son, Daryn Johnsrude, was being transferred out of prison for three days. Families of Olson’s victims surmised that he had serious health issues.
Over the last 30 years, Rosenfeldt, who started a victims’ rights group in Ottawa with Daryn’s stepfather Gary Rosenfeldt, said she often wondered how she would feel if Olson died.
“Do you jump up and down and think yippee, he’s going to be dead soon? He is the man who took my son’s life in a most gruesome manner,” she said.
Over the years, Olson continued to torment her family even from prison — he launched a lawsuit against her for defamation of character, taunted them about Daryn’s last words, tried to sell memorabilia online and even made a dozen videos on how to abduct children.
I do not understand how the harassment is allowed or tolerated.
This is also another reason I believe these monsters need to get capital punishment, then they can not harm others anymore.
Rosenfeldt said she talked to her son and daughter after learning the news from Corrections Canada on Tuesday.
“We all had a few tears. Our whole life in the last 30 years comes before us when you learn something like this and you realize this has been 30 years,” she said. “It was very emotional because you think of all the people who have lost so much, my daughter and my son, Gary, my parents. The first face I thought of was my son, his little face.”
Clifford Olson’s history of violence
November-July 1980: Clifford Robert Olson, a 41-year-old Coquitlam, B.C. construction worker, terrorizes the Lower Mainland, torturing, sexually assaulting and murdering eight girls and three boys between 9 and 18 years of age. On Christmas Day 1980, the body of Olson’s first victim, Christine Weller, 12, is found strangled and stabbed in Richmond, B.C.
Aug. 12, 1981: Olsen is arrested by the RCMP on Vancouver Island.
Late 1981: Olson reveals locations of victims’ bodies to RCMP after brokering a $100,000 deal for his wife and son — $10,000 a body. He offers the whereabouts of his first victim as a “freebie.”
January 1982: Olson recants his initial not guilty plea, confessing to 11 murders in what was dubbed the “trial of the century.”
Jan. 14, 1982: B.C. Supreme Court hands down 11 simultaneous life sentences.
May 2, 1986: Olson sends a letter to the parents of 16-year-old victim Daryn Johnsrude, detailing their son’s murder.
IMO: At that point his mail privileges should have been restricted in the very least, canceled other than with lawyers and always read before going out of the prison.
Dec. 15, 1989:Imprisoned at Kingston Penitentiary, Olson says God has forgiven him. “I’ve asked for forgiveness, I’ve been forgiven and that’s the end of it.”
I am happy that God did since no one else seems to have forgiven him!
March 11, 1997:Olson invokes the “faint-hope clause” to request an early parole hearing after serving 15 of his 25-year sentence. A jury takes less than 15 minutes to say no. Victims’ families petition to eliminate the “faint-hope clause,” which gives murderers exhibiting good behavior the opportunity for early parole. The clause is amended in 1997, making Olson the last serial killer to call for early parole.
June 1997: Olson transfers from a Saskatchewan prison to Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, north of Montreal.
Aug. 21, 2001: A National Parole Board jury needs 17 minutes to agree Olson will stay behind bars.
July 18, 2006: At another parole hearing, Olson claims he struck a deal with the U.S. attorney general regarding 9/11 information and will be extradited. His parole is denied. “Mr. Olson presents a high risk and a psychopathic risk,” the National Parole Board said. “He is a sexual sadist and a narcissist. If released, he will kill again.”
March 2010: Olson, now 70, informs the Toronto Sun he earns over $1,000 a month in old age security benefits, sparking nationwide outrage. The federal government ceases pensions for prisoners locked up longer than two years. Security benefits are eliminated the following year.
Nov. 29, 2010: Olson flunks third parole hearing. He says it will be his last.
Sept. 2011: Victims’ families are notified Olson is dying of cancer in a Quebec hospital.
I hope they can keep him going for a few extra days.
No pain meds, just let him suffer.