Killer of teen gets permission for partial halfway house release

Brian Patrick Townsend, who is in the midst of changing his name, murdered 15-year-old Vivien Morzuch in 2001 and was in 2009 sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years after being convicted of second-degree murder.

A man who killed a 15-year-old hitchhiker 20 years ago before dumping his body at the entrance to a provincial park west of Kamloops has been denied the right to leave his halfway house and move in full-time with his wife, parole documents show — but he has been allowed to leave the halfway house for five consecutive days at a time.

Brian Patrick Townsend is also in the process of legally changing his name, though that process has been delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Other information relating to his name change, including his new name, was redacted from parole documents.

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Now 70, Townsend was sentenced in 2009 to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years after being convicted of second-degree murder in connection with a death almost a decade earlier.

Vivien Morzuch, 15, was found dead near the entrance to Steelhead Provincial Park, near Savona, on July 31, 2000. The teen had hitchhiked to B.C. from his home in Montreal, hoping to find seasonal work.

Townsend met Morzuch at a Revelstoke gas station three days before the teen’s body was found. Townsend beat Morzuch with a baseball bat before binding him with duct tape, wrapping him in a sleeping bag and dumping him in a ditch.

Fifteen-year-old Vivien Morzuch was murdered in 2000. His body was found near Savona. - Kamloops This Week

Morzuch’s murder went unsolved for years. Townsend was linked to the slaying by DNA in 2005. He was arrested in 2006 at the conclusion of an elaborate RCMP Mr. Big undercover operations, which culminated in Townsend confessing to a Mountie posing as the powerful leader of a violent gang.

Townsend was granted escorted leaves in 2016 and has been on day parole since December 2017, living in a halfway house with occasional overnight privileges.

Documents from Townsend’s most recent parole hearing, made public on Tuesday, show his case management team recommended he be allowed to move in full-time with his wife. He met her while serving his sentence and they married in October 2019.

While that recommendation was rejected, Parole Board of Canada officials did grant Townsend “five and two” leave privileges, meaning he can spend five consecutive nights each week away from his halfway house.

Parole documents show Townsend has shown improvement in programming while serving his sentence, but has shown resistance to psychological counselling.

“The relatively recent nature of your marriage, your demonstrated intransigence in participating in a part of your correctional plan that you did not agree with, namely psychological counselling, and the nature and severity of the index offence, which demonstrates that you are capable of extreme violence, necessitate a more cautions and prudent approach,” the Parole Board of Canada decision states.

Townsend remains on conditions prohibiting him from possessing or consuming alcohol. He is also required to report any new sexual relationship to his parole officer and is barred from having any contact with Morzuch’s family.

© Kamloops This Week



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