Brenda Hughes (left) and Denean Worms were killed by Terrence Burlingham in 1984 near Cranbrook. Submitted

Double-killer’s ‘sexual sadism’ worried parole officials last year, documents reveal

Terrence Burlingham’s first of 12 escorted temporary absences in Abbotsford to occur this evening

Parole officials ruled twice last year that Terrence Burlingham would pose an “undue” risk if let out on escorted absences from the prison where he was serving time for two grisly 1984 murders, according to documents obtained by The News.

That decision was made, in part, due to the presence in Burlingham of “sexual sadism, anti-social personality disorder and psychopathic features.”

Today in Abbotsford, Burlingham is scheduled to get his first taste of freedom after having a new request for “escorted temporary absences” approved. He has been approved for 11 more such “personal development” absences over the next three months. He will reportedly be released for three hours during the evening on Sept. 9, 12, 19 and 26.

Burlingham sexually assaulted and killed Denean Worms, 20, and Brenda Hughes, 16, within months of each other in Cranbrook. The killings followed the same pattern: Burlingham stole a shotgun, found a vulnerable girl, sexually assaulted her, then shot her twice at close range. Hughes’s killing occurred in her own home, while her parents were out of the house.

RELATED: Double-killer set for ‘supervised’ release next week in Abbotsford is ‘high risk to reoffend’, victim’s father says

At the time of the killings, Burlingham was on “mandatory supervision,” after having been convicted of break and enters. That supervision, though, consisted only of weekly reports to local police.

On Friday, family members of both victims told The News they had been notified that Burlingham would be allowed out of Matsqui Institution on 12 occasions over the next three months. The absences will be in the presence of others, but Ray Hughes – Brenda Hughes’s father – told The News that he is worried that either Burlingham will take the opportunity to reoffend, if aroused, or that he will use a successful stint to make another play for full parole.

Ray Hughes said that, when given the opportunity, Burlingham has pointedly refused to apologize to him for Brenda’s murder 35 years ago.

Jim Ramsay, Worms’ uncle, expressed similar concerns.

“It’s absolutely appalling that this two-time murderer is going to be walking on the streets,” he said.

Last March, the Parole Board of Canada turned down Burlingham’s request for an escorted temporary absence, stating that he remained a moderate-to-high risk to reoffend and that it was unclear whether any treatment could be successful.

The board, according to the official decision, “did not find that the reasons why you need to carry out this treatment in the community to be compelling … and found that the benefits did not outweigh the risk you would present.”

Last year’s plan for Burlingham’s escorted leave suggested that after being accompanied by a prison guard on his first time out of jail, other absences would seem accompanied by “trained citizen staff.” If a prison vehicle wasn’t available, the plan could see Burlingham travel in that staff member’s own vehicle.

The danger posed by Burlingham concerned the board, in part because his elevated risk rating was affected, in part, by “the presence of sexual sadism, anti-social personality disorder and psychopathic features.”

Burlingham appeal of the decision was rejected by the parole board due to the risk he posed.

Officials noted that Burlingham did accept some responsibility, is sober, has lived at a minimum-security institution since 2016, has engaged in counselling and has been on chemical castration medication.

Monday won’t be Burlingham’s first time out of jail, the 2017 decision reveals. That decision, which turned down his application for parole, noted that he has worked “outside of the institution without incident” since 2010. In his 2017 parole application, Burlingham had sought to live at a Fraser Valley halfway house.

The parole board denied the request, stating that while Burlingham had demonstrated some progress, the risk he posed was not “manageable.”

“It is clear that a release in your case must be very gradual, highly structured and supported, and closely supervised in order to protect the public,” a decision reads.

Although The News was able to obtain two parole board decisions from Corrections Canada, officials do not release decisions about escorted temporary absences, unless there is an appeal. That means the reasons for this year’s decision are not public.

Prison officials wouldn’t say where or why Burlingham was allowed an escorted temporary absence or the type of supervision he will be under.

The prison released only a general statement that said, in part: “Temporary releases may be granted when it is considered that the inmate will not, by reoffending, present a risk to society during the absence.”

The release defined escorted temporary absences as: “a release in which an offender, either alone or as a member of a group, leaves the institution accompanied by one or several CSC designated escorts (correctional officer, primary worker, volunteer, etc.) The duration of the ETA is limited. Medical absences, however, may be unlimited.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


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