Convicted murderer Robert Raymond Dezwaan, 53, has been recaptured by the Agassiz Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in British Columbia after he was noticed missing from prison on Friday afternoon.
Warning: this story involves descriptions of crimes including rape and murder.
Dezwaan is serving life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years after, among other charges, pleading guilty to second-degree murder for raping and choking 16-year-old First Nations girl Cherish Oppenheim to death.
According to CBC News, prison guards noticed that Dezwaan was missing from the Mission, B.C., minimum-security prison during a headcount taken at 3:45 p.m. PST. He is the third murderer to escape from the facility since 2014.
Cpl. David Motley of the Mission, B.C., RCMP confirmed that Dezwaan was apprehended earlier today and is presently in police custody.
Dezwaan has a serious criminal history; according to the Vancouver Sun, his record begins in 1993 when he was convicted of unlawful confinement and break and enter after breaking into a woman’s house at night, climbing on top of her, and attempting to gag her with a cloth. In March 2001, he was again arrested, this time on charges of sexual assault with a weapon, confinement, and robbery of a young woman.
When he was arrested for the death of Cherish Oppenheim, he was out on bail for a previous sexual assault. According to the trial, he sexually assaulted her, beat her to death, and left her body covered in rocks debris on an abandoned road. He would later lead the RCMP back to the spot, where they had been unable to find her, after pleading guilty to murder.
But Robert Dezwaan isn’t just infamous for his own crimes; he is also the father of Kruse Wellwood, who in 2010, along with accomplice Cameron Moffat, was convicted of a crime remarkably similar to his father’s. Wellwood and Moffat lured 18-year-old Langford teen Kimberly Proctor to Wellwood’s home, bound her hands and feet with duct tape, and gagged her with a sock before subjecting her to repeated sexual assaults, before attempting to choke her to death. Ultimately, after failing to kill her by strangulation, they suffocated Proctor with a plastic bag over her head.
Wellwood was 16 at the time; Moffat was 17.
During his trial, Wellwood said that he had last been in contact with his father in 2001, at the age of 7, right after his imprisonment for Oppenheim’s rape and murder. During his sentencing, in a letter read by his lawyer, Bob Jones, Wellwood said that “as a child, I hated my father for what he had done. I felt I was less than him and now I find I have become a worse man.”
According to Jones, Wellwood was taunted constantly by other children when information about his father’s conviction was made public, and he struggled to deal with his parents’ divorce. Wellwood was ultimately incarcerated in the maximum-security Kent Institution at age 17, which Jones protested on the grounds that it would create problems for his father, Dezwaan.
Meanwhile, citizens of British Columbia are questioning the decision to hold Dezwaan and other convicted murderers in a minimum-security facility which murderers apparently keep breaking out of. Correctional Service Canada (CSC) responded with a statement.
“CSC evaluates all offenders and places them in facilities appropriate to their security and program requirements.
“Only those offenders who are assessed as having a low risk to public safety will be placed in a minimum security institution.
“The perimeter of a minimum-security institution is defined but not directly controlled. Offender movement and association within the institution are regulated under minimal supervision.”
Regardless, Robert Dezwaan has been recaptured by the RCMP as of this morning and is presently in police custody. But in light of his escape, this may not be the last that we hear of him in the near future.
[Featured Image by Correctional Service Canada]