A Coldwater woman, who for three hours tortured and then killed a man she believed had sexually assaulted a child, has been granted day parole.
Faye Annette Higgins, now 54, eventually admitted to killing Gord Evans at his Orillia home on June 29, 2010. His body was discovered in his bathroom four days later.
A post-mortem examination revealed 18 stab wounds to his neck, back and chest, as well as a ligature mark on his neck.
Higgins was a personal support worker who graduated from Georgian College and provided services to Evans, who was on disability assistance.
Police initially had no solid evidence linking Higgins to what the judge described as “a ferocious pummelling of his body.” Two undercover officers spent months befriending Higgins and gaining her trust.
She eventually admitted her guilt to one of the officers.
In November 2013, she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, receiving a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 14 years.
Higgins had a previous criminal history which included drunk driving, assault and narcotics offences.
She had told the Parole Board of Canada she was sober during the killing.
In its latest review last month, the parole board panel noted that the Correctional Service of Canada recommended that day parole be granted because her risk is considered "manageable" with the proposed release plan and supervision strategy.
But the community parole office preferred unescorted temporary absences prior to conditional release to help with adjustment issues, and allow her to build positive supports and resources.
“The board considers the violent nature of the index offence as a serious aggravating factor. Your conviction for second-degree murder is a significant escalation in your offending behaviour," the panel wrote in its April 26 decision.
"You took the law into your own hands, you acted impulsively and you tortured and killed the victim, causing lasting harm to his family. Although you have accepted responsibility for your offending,and have demonstrated victim empathy, the board notes you were driven by your emotions, made poor decisions and did not consider the consequences of your actions,” the panel noted.
“Given the serious nature of your history, your reintegration will require close monitoring to ensure you can continue to follow your healing path in the community.”
Higgins has racked up “several” institutional charges during her decade-long incarceration including possessing unauthorized beads, bullying and moving during non-movement time.
But nine random urinalysis tests all came back negative for intoxicants and there was positive feedback about her engagement with Indigenous services, working with Elders participating in ceremonies and her performance during escorted temporary absences.
She has repeatedly been assessed as low risk for general and violent recidivism but is considered to have an elevated risk when faced with stressors associated with a return to the community.
It was determined to proceed with a gradual reintegration supporting escorted temporary absences, reduction in security level and day parole.
“The board finds that your level of insight and responsibility, improved institutional behaviour, successful completion of programming and demonstrated change indicates you are ready for community release on day parole,” the panel concluded, agreeing to place her in a community-based residential facility for six months, pending bed space availability.
“You have provided a viable plan for release that is gradual, structured, and monitored. You will continue to engage in Indigenous Services and required programming to mitigate your risk and needs,” the panel wrote.
The plan includes conditions that she report relationships, has no contact with family members of the victim, follow a treatment plan and she is not to consume drugs and alcohol.