A11Thirty-three years ago this week, six members of the Johnson and Bentley families – three generations – were savagely slaughtered by a sick bastard who’d stalked them for days while they camped at Wells Gray Park in central British Columbia, Canada. The motive for the murders and what actually happened is beyond disgusting. It’s truly unspeakable.

A9The victims were grandparents George Bentley, 66, and Edith Bentley, 59; parents Bob Johnson, 44, and Jackie Johnson, 41; and daughters Janet Johnson, 13, and Karen Johnson, 11. They rendezvoused for a summer vacation at the remote wilderness recreational area (300 miles northeast of Vancouver  and 465 miles northwest of Calgary) and picked a secluded camp spot at the old Bear Creek prison site. The Johnsons drove up by car and pitched a tent for the girls. The Bentleys arrived with a truck and camper to house the adults.

A7The families were reported missing on August 23, 1982, when Bob Johnson failed to show up for work. An extensive search was launched. It spread across central British Columbia as their known destination was only somewhere in the Wells Gray area, which is huge. This was long before the day of cell phones and email.

On September 13, the Johnson family car was found burned in a clearing off a mountainside logging road, thirteen aerial miles from Bear Creek. In the back seat were the incinerated remains of the four adults and, in the trunk, were the two girls. The bodies were so consumed that they were eventually interred together in one child-sized casket.

Forensic analysis determined they’d been shot in the head with a .22 caliber firearm.

The murder scene was located through information from locals who’d seen the family camped at Bear Creek. Spent .22 casings were recovered which allowed a ballistic match to the weapon, just as .22 bullet leads were extracted from what was left of the skulls.

A13The Bentley’s 1981 Ford truck with its camper was missing, as well as other possessions such as their boat and motor, camping gear, and all the things families on holidays would have.

The case gained huge media attention and prompted tips from across North America. A promising lead was the truck and camper reportedly being seen in central Canada, driven eastbound by two scruffy French-Canadian men. This prompted a wild goose chase where the police drove a replica vehicle across the nation to solicit more sighting information.

Over 13,000 tip files were investigated by many police agencies, all reaching a dead end. On October 18, 1983 – fourteen months after the murders – the Bentley truck and camper was found near the crime scene. It, too, had been burned and was in a nearly impossible-to-see place on the side of different mountain from where the car and bodies were found.

The investigation team focused back on the local area. They honed-in on 24 year old David William Shearing who lived at the nearest property to the murder scene. Like so many crimes – especially the truly bizarre ones – the answer is usually close to home.

A8Skillful interrogation by two Royal Canadian Mounted Police detectives, Sergeant Mike Eastham and Constable Ken Liebel, got David Shearing to confess, re-enact the murders, and turn over the family’s possessions. He also handed the police a .22 caliber Remington pump-action rifle, which was forensically matched as the murder weapon.

Shearing stated in his initial confession that he shot the four adults as they sat around their campfire, then shot the girls as they slept in the tent. He claimed his motive was robbery; he wanted their money and possessions. He told the investigators he loaded the bodies into the car, drove it by night to the mountainside, and set it on fire using five gallons of gasoline as an accelerant. He said he cleaned the campsite, then took the truck/camper back to his nearby property, only to burn it later when he discovered how difficult it was to re-register.

David Shearing pleaded guilty to six counts of murder and was given a life sentence with no possibility of parole for twenty-five years. Following Shearing’s conviction, Mike Eastham re-interviewed him and got the truth behind the murders.

A3Shearing was a pedophile and fixated on the little girls. He’d spotted the family the moment they set up camp and spent several days spying on them from a hillside, fantasizing about having sex with the kids. At dusk on (or about) August 10, 1982, Shearing crept through the shadows into the campsite with his rifle and opened fire, ambushing the adults who surrounded the fire. He captured the girls and took them to his property where he kept them alive for a week, repeatedly raping the children. On August 16, Shearing shot Karen in the back of the head. The next day he killed Janet the same way.

Shearing took the girl’s bodies back to the Johnson family car, which he’d hidden in the bush, and stuffed them in the trunk. Then he drove the car –  containing six lifeless human beings, four of who’d been decomposing for a week in the summer heat – on a ride up the mountain where he burned them.

The Johnson – Bentley case has a personal side with me.

Mike Eastham and Ken Liebel were colleagues of mine. I was with the RCMP’s northwestern BC criminal investigation section at the time of the ‘J-B’ murders and I helped follow-up tips in the file – just like many other police officers across the nation did.

AA18I’ve handled the J-B murder weapon at the forensic laboratory in Vancouver and I’ve worked the action and I’ve looked down the sights. I’ve contemplated how such a small, mechanical device did such incomprehensible damage in the hands of a monster. I’ve envisioned that ride – Shearing chauffeuring a car-load of rotting bodies up to their funeral pyre – but where I can’t go is the unspeakable… unimaginable… terror… horror… that Janet and Karen Johnson endured. I know some of the details and they’re truly unprintable.

A1David Shearing (now David Ennis because the coward changed to his mother’s maiden surname) was denied parole in 2012 and withdrew his application in 2014 when a petition with 13,258 signatures was presented to the National Parole Board, mine being one of them. He’s now eligible to apply every two years and, if this breathing piece of shit tries it again in 2016, you’re going to hear me ask for your signature on another petition.

David William Shearing, aka Ennis, is a monster from the shadows of Wells Gray Park.

He must die behind bars.

*   *   *

A14Retired RCMP Sergeant Mike Eastham co-authored a book with Ian McLeod on the Johnson – Bentley investigation. Outside of telling the truth of what Shearing did, and must pay for with the rest of his life, it’s a fascinating look at a major murder investigation and how personalities work for – and against – it.

My opinion –  Mike Eastham (and a hell of a lot of others) did a great job in bringing Shearing to justice and Mike told a great story. I highly recommend The Seventh Shadow – The Wilderness Hunt for a Brutal Mass Murderer.

Here’s the link:  http://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Shadow-Wilderness-Manhunt-Brutal/dp/1894020472/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439589512&sr=1-1&keywords=the+seventh+shadow

There is an excellent documentary called “The Wells Grey Gunman David Shearing“. It’s produced by “True Crime Stories” that tells the story of the investigation, Shearing’s arrest/confession, and what his motivation was for the Johnson-Bentley murders. I personally know a number of the actual investigators who are interviewed in the show and I can say that this documentary is presented accurately and fairly. It’s well worth the 45-minute watch.

Here’s the link:  http://www.lectoro.com/index.php?action=search&ytq=Crime%20Stories%20%20%20The%20Wells%20Grey%20Gunman%20David%20Shearing


  1. JYJames

    Excellent work by the Constable and the Sergeant, I believe, who elicited the confession.

    (Crime Stories, Amazon Prime Video, Season 2, Episode 5: The Wells Grey Gunman)

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      Full credit goes to Ken Liebel and Mike Eastham who skillfully got Shearing to confess and make it stick. Interrogation doesn’t get better than what these two RCMP members did with Shearing.

  2. Patricia K

    What a sad story this is! I watched a TV program about it yesterday, very upsetting. I want to thank you and your fellow officers for being there to pick up society’s garbage, like David Shearing. My husband and I have talked about visiting Wells Gray Park. Which I’m sure is a beautiful spot, but not so sure about going there now. We have been to Jasper, Banff, Yoho, the Salmon Arm area and all are wonderful. We live in Washington State so we are close by and I seem to remember hearing about this at the time, as well as Clifford Olson. Some of the people here commenting about the Canadian justice system don’t seem to know much about it, isn’t that always the way? Anyway thank you again and please thank any fellow officers you are still in touch with for working this case. I don’t know if I could look at the world through the same eyes after dealing with this POS and what he did.

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Patricia. I agree with your POS assessment – in fact, I have a bit stronger view of Shearing. Olson’s rampage was several years earlier than Shearing but even more deadly if you can envision that. I have to say the Canadian justice system is tightening up. We’ve always been pretty good at catching monsters – it’s keeping them in jail that’s the problem. Fortunately, parole for worst case offenders is harder to get but there’s always the possibility Shearing may be released some day. I’ll be the first voice to help prevent it.

  3. Robert Frazier

    Hi. Mr. Rodgers, you write a WONDERFUL blog, by the by. And contrary to what some who have written to your Comments page may think or say, David Shearing IS getting his just reward on Earth; he has to hear (from NOW ON, UNTIL SOMEONE IN A UNIFORM PUTS HIS BODY IN A BOX AND SHUTA HIS EYES), his little victims scream, cry for their Mummy and Daddy, and beg him for mercy…day in, day out–and MOST ESPECIALLY, night in and night out. Best of all–unless he repeats and begs God to save his soul from sin (and since his conscience has been seared by a hot iron–see Romans chapter 1 for reference–that more than likely WILL NOT HAPPEN), he will, SOON AND VERY SOON, be subjected to everlasting flame and torment in Hell; specifically, that part of same reserved for ‘special’ cases like himself, Marc Dutroux, Andrea Yates, Susan Smith, Clifford Sleigh, Darlie Routier and Jared Fogle…and ALL OTHERS WHO HAVE HARMED CHILDREN FOR THEIR OWN SELFISH LUSTS. May Karen, Janet, their Mummy & Daddy and their grandparents rest in the arms (I hope) of the Lord.

  4. Chris

    I too believe that people like this should be put down. But I have a different twist to it. I do not think that their execution should be “civilized”. I believe that they should die the same way they murdered. This sorry animal should be raped for a week the same way that was done to those two innocent angels and then executed the same way. A long walk out into the woods raped again then shot while hopefully he is crying and begging for his life like the cowardly sniveling little bitch he is..

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      Harsh as it sounds, I agree with you Chris. What Shearing did was the most despicable thing I’ve ever heard of. I’m not religious but I recall a Bible term… “Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth.”

    1. Aaron Lloyd.

      Notice that in Canada, it doesn’t matter if you kill one person or twenty five… you still only serve one sentence! And after 25 years they actually release you back into society! One murder or twenty five. Or twenty five thousand. It matters not to the parole board, since they believe with all their hearts that the evil person will be a ‘good boy’ from now on!
      Also during their 25 year stay in prison, the forces in control spend most of that time getting the ‘wolves’ ready for re-introduction back into the land of unsuspecting sheep! They actually take them out on ‘supervised day passes’ and allow them to freely mingle with the average yet unsuspecting law-abiding person! Just like they’ll be doing on their own when the fools let them go free. Not to mention, some of them have been known to escape during these so-called ‘supervised’ outings, only stalk and kill again before they are finally recaptured.
      It makes you wonder just what kind of minds are running the penal system up there. Their focus seems to be on rehabilitation instead of punishment, which couldn’t be further from the reality of the situation. Because after all, if the offender was worthy of rehabilitation (or even wanted it), he wouldn’t have committed such a heinous crime to begin with! But he does it because he likes it! It is in his nature as the human predator that he has allowed himself to willfully become to thirst for the high of raping and killing. Just as before. It all goes back to the Liberal’s misshapen belief that “there is no such thing as bad people. Only bad choices”. I mean, really… how blind can you possibly be!

      1. Garry Rodgers Post author

        Thanks for your comment, Aaron. I think you’re a little over the top with this as Canada does have legislation that allows consecutive sentencing for multiple crimes. Also, when a person is convicted for multiple murders, each separate count is registered as a separate offense. The fixed punishment for 1st and 2nd-degree murder is life imprisonment. The only negotiable factor is eligibility for parole. 1st-degree has a minimum time of 25 years before applying where 2nd-degree has an optional 10-year limit at the court’s discretion. This means for applying to get parole – it by no means says that the person will get paroled.

        You’re also confused about the difference between concurrent and consecutive sentencing. When a person is convicted of multiple murders, whether 1st or 2nd, the court can order the sentences be served concurrently, or all together, before being eligible for parole – or the person can be sentenced consecutively where one sentence has to be served entirely before the next one starts. So, in Canada, people do serve multiple life sentences and have absolutely no hope for ever applying for parole. This just recently happened in New Brunswick where 3 police officers were murdered.

        I also want to address your claim that all dangerous criminals get day passes that put the public at risk. This is also misinformed. Passes are tightly controlled and you can be certain that a guy like David Shearing would never get a day pass. What’s wrong with the Shearing case is that he was given a plea bargain to plead guilty to six counts of 2nd-degree murder because there was a concern about the admissibility of his confession. Shearing was then sentenced concurrently with parole eligibility set at 25 years. This allows him to apply for parole now that 25 years have passed. In reality, I don’t think Shearing will ever be paroled but I want to keep this case in the public eye.

        I also think you’re a bit off the wall with your perception about how liberal Canada is.

        1. mulvene

          Likely Aaron was thinking of Peter John Peters, who was given concurrent life sentences for killing two people and was stopped from killing a third (after savagely raping her). And yes, as Aaron said, the animal was given a DAY PASS. And Peters ESCAPED on that day pass. Nevertheless, Peters WAS eligible, as Aaron said, for parole at 25 years. I tried to find out when Peters will appear before the parole board again. Am I right that, eventually, he goes before the board every two years?? How DARE Canada put the victims’ families through that! Well, get ready, Canada. Like Ennis, Peters has changed his name. Looks like he’s getting ready for his release date–and his next victims. No sir, Aaron has not overstated the matter, judging by the Peters case. Are there others??

  5. Crystal

    There is so much more to this story and so much more to tell about the people involved. R.C (The informant..) as well as the involvement of David’s family. There were so many theories as to whether there was any one else involved floating around. He did not do this on his own.. unfortunately just about every one involved or that could possibly know is either dead, or close to death or David himself who is not talking…yes he is a monster.. it was horrific especially to those that knew him..to the town that never fully recovered.

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      I’m not sure where you get the idea that Shearing had help in committing the JB murders, Crystal. The case facts are absolutely clear that he acted alone and that includes after the fact. Any suggestion otherwise is pure speculation.

      1. Bev

        Pretty much everyone knows he didn’t act alone. The police did not do their job. They just settled with David’s congressional in order to hide the embarrassment of their cross country adventure. And why was he never charged with the hit and run the ended in an innocent life as well? That one has always puzzled me.

        1. Garry Rodgers Post author

          Pretty much everyone knows Shearing didn’t act alone?? The police did not do their job?? These are the most ignorant statements anyone’s ever posted on my website.

  6. James

    I’ve just watched “crime stories” here in the UK, & this case was the subject of the programme. What a horrific tale. What a tragic waste of an ordinary family’s lives in such a wicked, evil manner.
    May they rest together in peace.
    The perpetrator must never be released. The law, and justice are two different things: legally, he has to be considered for parole, but for justice to be served for the lives that he took away, he must die in prison.
    He should have no comfort, noone to hold his hand, or wipe his brow, and leave this world a better place by his absence.

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      Thanks for commenting, James. I just downloaded the Crime Stories documentary. I’d never seen this production before and I know most of the actual investigators who are interviewed in the show. This is a very accurate portrayal of what happened in the Johnson-Bentley case and exactly what David Shearing did. Here’s the link if anyone would like to watch the 45 minute program:


  7. Steven S

    Where do the proceeds from the Seventh Shadow book go? No one, especially those closely involved should profit from this family’s horriffic murder.

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      The book was published in print form back in 1999 by Warwick Publishing and it looks like they’re no longer in business. It’s listed on Amazon as used only so it looks like there are no new prints books available, as well as no ebook. So it looks like no one’s profiting.

  8. Christopher Hall

    I would happily sign a petition to keep this thing locked away forever, he can ask his maker for compassion and forgiveness, he won’t get it from me. I just saw the story on the Justice Network. What he did is unforgivable. I sometimes think that capitol punishment is to easy of a way out for this kind of monster. Remaining alive, locked up in solitary confinement and experiencing the same horror daily that he put that innocent and trusting family and those poor children through does not seem unreasonable.

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      Hi Christoper & thanks for a common sense comment. Shearing recently waived his parole application and won’t be eligible to apply for another five years. You can bet that if he does apply there will be another Change.org petition which I will gladly spearhead. What was the Justice Network story? Can you give me a link?

      1. Christopher Hall

        Garry, thank you for your continued efforts on this case. We receive The Justice Network from an over the air broadcaster locally. Here is the link to the web site.

        The Wells Grey Gunman
        In August of 1982, six members of the Bentley/Johnson family disappear in the Wells Grey National Park without a trace. Over a month later, the burned out Johnson vehicle is found with the remains of all six family members burnt beyond recognition inside. A massive manhunt for the killer begins, finally ending with a local man, David Shearing confessing to the crimes.

      2. Patricia O'Brien

        Thank you for your work in helping keep this monster in prison. We were from New Brunswick, living in Edmonton, AB when this happened. I remember driving by this park in 1983 with my two young daughters, on our way to Vancouver Island. I remember feeling sheer horror just being on the road that ran past the park, and knowing what had happened so close nearby. Meanwhile, reports of Clifford Olsen were being broadcast on the car radio. BC didn’t feel like a good place to be with children back in those days. This is the first time I’ve looked for information on how this crime was solved, only to find out it was as horrific as I always suspected it to have been. I only ever knew that it was an entire family with children involved. Makes you wonder how these killers can slip through the cracks for so many years and go left unchecked until they find a way to destroy the lives of others. Seems so unfair.

    2. Jane Triber

      I couldn’t agree more. I’ve just watched a documentary about the horrendous murders. Don’t ever let this man go free.

  9. Dave McMillan

    If my dog runs out of my yard and bites somebody, I would have it put down.
    The same thing should happen to murders .

  10. Lauren

    There’s truly nothing worse that could happen to a child, the girls must have known their parents & grandparents were dead and couldn’t protect them. Then to be helpless & hurt at the hands of this monster. Maybe some kidnapped kids could have some hope that mom & dad will come in like superheros to rescue them, these babies were deprived of even that. None of us can even imagine what they went thru physically & emotionally. I don’t believe in the death penalty just cause they’re found guilty in court, but when there is NO question outside of it why can we kill bedbugs, cockroaches & headlice that bother our kids but not monsters that kill them?

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      Thanks, Sue. I hope I never have to collect your signature but something tells me it’s less than a year away. What sucks is that the remaining members of the Johnson and Bentley families relive this horror with each parole application. If we had capital punishment in Canada, maybe they wouldn’t have to. Just sayin’.

      1. matzsquii daigneault

        I went to cleawater elementery school in 1971 with David. He was teased relentlessly about his nose. This is not an excuse for what he did, but the minumum amount of time has passed, and now it’s time for compassion and forgiveness for this man.
        To prove my truthfulness about my story, I had a teacher named Mrs. Lundquist, Mrs.Liebee, and the principle was named Mr. Braun.

        1. Steven S

          Wow, I cannot believe you would suggest sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of this Serial Murderer/Rapist! Something is seriously wrong with you. I was teased relentlessly in school for being skinny as a rail and a bedwetter but I have never had the urge to randomly murder, rob, rape and kidnap. I suggest you visit the surviving family and pour out your compassion upon them. I wonder if you would feel the same if that were your family/chldren that were murdered/raped. Unbelieveable!!!

      2. Sue canga

        Where do I sign up to keep this evil behind bars? Please email the place to sign up. I don’t go to different websites. It’s just that I saw the show on TV today and searched to see if he got out and saw the request about asking others to sign up so I am here to support keeping evil behind bars.

        1. Garry Rodgers Post author

          There was a petition circulating a few years ago when Shearing/Ennes applied for parole but there’s nothing current. If he does apply again, I’ll certainly be helping to organize another petition. Thanks for your comment, Sue.


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