The man who murdered Maple Ridge mother of three Colleen Findlay in 2002, when he was a teenager, has been denied parole.
The Parole Board of Canada decided on Feb. 16 to keep Jeremy Wade Vojkovic, now 34, behind bars. He was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder in March 2004. He was tried as an adult.
The board noted it “remains deeply disturbed by the horrific nature of your index offence.”
Vojkovic was 15 in November of 2002, when he entered a barn on the property owned by the victim and her husband Dr. Jim Findlay, who is a Maple Ridge dentist. Vojkovic was startled by the woman, and choked her unconscious. He used duct tape to restrain her, sexually assaulted her, then took her to the house.
He cut the woman’s throat with a knife, poured gas over her and around the house, then lit a fire. The cause of Colleen Findlay’s death was smoke inhalation.
Vojkovic drove away in the victim’s car, and the six-page decision notes that he spent the afternoon driving the car and meeting friends. They smoked stolen cigars and marijuana, and Vojkovic bought beer for his friends, until police located the murdered woman’s vehicle, and arrested him.
Jim Findlay stated strong objections to the murderer’s release. He was relieved to see his wife’s killer will not be leaving prison.
“We have never, as a family, wanted to feel that he has made us victims of his horrible crime. We’re traumatized, but we didn’t want to be defeated by it,” said Findlay.
The family has heard almost nothing about Vojkovic since he went to jail, and he read the detailed board decision with a mix of horror and then relief.
“We’re relieved he’s still in prison. He can apply again, but for now people are safe.”
A psychiatric assessment from 2019 assessed Vojkovic as a moderate risk of re-offending, and the report suggested there would be a six per cent chance of him committing an offence within three years of release.
He was exposed to family violence, neglect and substance abuse as a child, and had numerous placements in care with the Ministry of Child and Family Development, the decision notes. His mother passed away, and he lived with his father, but they were not close. He was not attending school, and spent time drinking and using cocaine and cannabis. He had committed property offences, had been arrested, and associated with criminals.
He was intoxicated at the time of the offence.
Vojkovic is indigenous, but knew little about his culture. He had experienced racism and bullying. During his sentence, he has learned more about his culture, committed to spirituality and has worked with elders.
The decision notes his overall institutional behaviour is concerning. Three times he has been segregated, including once for assaulting an inmate and for “moving drugs.”
In March of 2020 he drank alcohol-based hand sanitizer with other inmates, and the decision documents other “rule breaking behaviours.”
His case management team recommended full parole be denied, favouring a gradual release plan beginning with escorted temporary absences. Police in the area where he desires release, in the Lower Mainland, also oppose full parole.
The board notes areas of progress during Vojkovic’s incarceration, but “remains highly concerned that you have not internalized the skills and strategies you have learned in programs in order to maintain your stability and ability to follow rules for an extended period.”
“Given the serious nature of your index offence, your recent high-risk behaviours, your unaddressed risk factors, your lack of stability at a minimum security setting, and your assessed moderate risk of re-offending, the board finds that there is sufficient information to conclude that you will present an undue risk to society if released on full parole.”
The Colleen Findlay Foundation is a legacy for the victim. The family run non-profit organization operates Colleen Findlay Place in her memory, in an effort to assist at-risk youth in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
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