THE KILLERS NEXT DOOR
Danielle Ignace has been trying for the better part of a decade to put her brother’s senseless killing behind her.
But, she can’t.
Especially not now, she said, with two of the three men convicted in his death living within steps of her house.
“They’re on both sides of me now,” Ignace said, standing outside the Dakota Road home in which she has lived for 10 years.
“They murdered my brother. How can I trust them with my kids in the yard?”
Ignace’s brother, Gabriel Palmer, was stabbed to death in December of 2002.
His body was found near the South Thompson River on New Year’s Eve of that year.
The 21-year-old son of former Skeetchestn Indian Band Chief Ron Ignace was stabbed more than a dozen times in the chest and neck.
In 2004, three men — Lance Jensen, Travis Saul and Raymond Peters — were handed seven-year sentences in relation to Palmer’s death after pleading guilty to manslaughter charges.
Those sentences expired on June 14 of this year.
Danielle Ignace said she was shocked a few months ago to learn Travis Saul was living directly across the street from her.
Then, in recent weeks, she discovered Lance Jensen had moved in next door.
The mother of two said she tried to look to the justice system for help, but was unsuccessful.
“That process wasn’t aimed at helping the victim,” she said.
“It’s about helping them get on with their lives.”
Since the two men have been living next to Ignace, she said she has had no contact with them — other than what she calls a “stare down” from Saul.
“He’s sat in his car before and stared over, not just with me, but with other family members,” she said.
“He’s — I don’t know what he’s doing.”
Because their sentences are over, there is nothing keeping Saul and Jensen from living wherever they like.
But, Ignace said, that doesn’t make it OK.
“When rapists rape somebody, they’re not allowed in a certain proximity of their victims,” she said.
“Well, they raped me of my brother. I’m never going to get him back.
“I’m really having problems with both of them being here.
This is ridiculous.
“I know they’re capable of killing somebody and they never got rehabilitated — as far as I know, they haven’t. They just got let out early on a technicality.”
The “technicality” Ignace is referring to is the fact Saul, Jensen and Peters were allowed to plead down to manslaughter charges.
They were each originally charged with second-degree murder, but problems with the police investigation compelled the Crown to accept pleas to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Ignace said she is looking for intervention from the T’Kemlups Indian Band (TIB).
“This is where I think the band should step in,” she said, adding she has tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with TIB leaders.
“My family, we’re all still mourning. This is a lack of consideration for the victims.”
TIB Chief Shane Gottfriedson said he is aware Saul lives on Dakota Road, but, as far as he knows, Jensen is living in his mother’s house on East Shuswap Road.
Gottfriedson wouldn’t speculate about Jensen’s possible residence on Dakota, but said TIB council gave a lot of consideration to Saul before allowing him to move back onto the reserve.
“As far as Mr. Saul goes, he wrote us a letter to chief and council and council supported his wishes to remain in our community,” Gottfriedson said.
“He asked for forgiveness. He made a mistake in his life and, unfortunately, someone lost their life.
“Now he’s on the track of getting his life in order.
“When you look at Mr. Saul’s roots in our community, he has a long, long line of generational ties to the T’Kemlups Indian Band. It’s not like he just decided one day he wanted to live in Kamloops.”
Gottfriedson said he has yet to hear from Ignace on the issue and questioned whether she actually lives on Dakota.
“I’ve never heard from Danielle, never talked to Danielle and there’s been no objections,” he said.
“I know it’s not an easy topic. It’s a sensitive topic and it’s something council considered heavily.”
Gottfriedson said TIB council placed Saul on a number of “terms and conditions” by which he must abide while living on the reserve.
He wouldn’t elaborate about specific requirements.
Ignace said she would like to see some action and compassion from the TIB.
“I hope that maybe they’ll acknowledge the fact that this is a very touchy subject with my family,” she said.
“It’s causing me stress and it’s causing me fear.
“They’re lucky they can start their lives over again. We can’t.”