Parole board denies Donald Campbell three, 72-hour unescorted passes

Fenny Campbell was murdered by her husband, Donald, at their Wyoming home in 1998. He was convicted of first degree murder. The Parole Board of Canada denied Donald Campbell's request for Unescorted Temporary Absences May 15.

Heather Wright/The Independent

“I maintain, and I will always maintain, I did not murder my wife.”

That from Donald Campbell as he answered questions from members Parole Board of Canada. He was asking for three, 72-hour Unescorted Temporary Absences from his life in prison. The Wyoming man was convicted of first degree murder in January 1998 in the death of his 45 year-old wife, Fenny.

Wednesday, the parole board denied the request.

Twenty-six years ago, Donald Campbell killed his wife, Fenny, in their Wyoming home and then tried to cover up her death by disguising it as a traffic death. During the three-month long trial, a jury heard Donald Campbell had verbally and emotionally abused his wife, often humiliating her, and was seeking a way out of his marriage when he killed her in the garage of the family home.

Seven members of the Campbell family, including Fenny’s three children, Joel Campbell, Alica Guthrie and Brent Campbell, said in their victim impact statements that Campbell still denies he killed his wife and should not be given parole. The family challenged parole board members to ask Donald Campbell if he murdered Fenny.

When the members did, he denied it adding “not all of the facts” were brought out in court “certainly not with them (the children) there.”

Donald Campbell maintains the coroner’s finding – that the mother of three was struck with a marble pedstal and died almost instantly – was wrong. He says the truth was recorded by an OPP officer at the scene – Fenny hit her head on the windshield which led to her death.

Brent, Alica and Joel Campbell with a picture of their mother, Fenny, who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998 by her husband, Donald Wayne Campbell. He was turned down for unescorted temporary absences May 15.

Wednesday’s hearing was the second in the last year and it has taken an emotional toll on the family. Fenny’s siblings and all three of her children talked about the anxiety they feel leading up to the hearing and the emotional turmoil it puts them through to relive their sister and mother’s brutal murder.

Guthrie said after the last hearing she left the conference call, vomited, and then spent the entire day crying. She didn’t sleep for 15 days. She’s now receiving trauma counselling just to get through the parole board hearings.

She told the parole board she sees the impact her trauma has on her own family and she is making them her priority. “I don’t want to be bitter. I can hear my mom say go focus on my family.”

Guthrie says she won’t be retelling the details of Fenny’s murder but she still feels compelled to give a statement to the parole board because she wants “my mom’s justice upheld.”

It was a comment echoed by Fenny’s sister, Rita Huisman; “I need to stand for justice for my sister. I will not be silenced. Don has taken away my sister’s voice but he has not taken away mine.”

Donald Campbell, now in his 70s, told the parole board he had given up on the idea of living in Windsor. Family members work in the city, and grandchildren play sports there. They were concerned about a random meeting with him in the city and begged the parole board to make southern Ontario off limits if Donald Campbell was to be released.

Instead, he asked for the three 72-hour passes to visit a halfway house in an undisclosed location outside of southern Ontario. Campbell planned to see what the house was like, understand their rules and sign up for government programs like OHIP and CPP on the days away from Kingston.

The prisoner also revealed to the parole board that he was recently treated for skin cancer and that he had checked to see if the community he hoped live would be able to provide treatment for it.

Donald Campbell has been volunteering in the community around Kingston two to three days a week, according to his parole officer, including doing some work on a farm. She recommended he be approved for the three unescorted temporary absences.

After the three-hour hearing, the board released its decision shortly after adjourning to deliberate giving a short verbal ruling saying the passes will not be allowed.

The chair of the hearing also thanked the family for adding their voices to the hearing. “The board recognizes the effort, the emotion and the trauma these statements make” adding it is “important to hear from those affected by crime.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here