Harold David SmeltzerNov 6th, 2008
Calgary child-killer granted day parole
Five-year-old's last hours revealed at hearing
Sherri Zickefoose, Calgary Herald
Published: Thursday, November 06, 2008
Evelyn Thompson learned chilling new details of her daughter's last moments shortly before her killer was granted day parole.
On Wednesday, she shook and wept as Harold David Smeltzer told the National Parole Board he snatched five-year-old Kimberley Thompson off a Calgary street in 1980 because he is a pedophile "attracted to little girls" and was preparing to sexually assault her.
Thompson broke down in tears as the board granted a measure of freedom to the man who said he ordered her child "to take off her snowsuit. . . . I wanted to kiss her. . . . She was crying. She was worried about what her mother was going to think."
Smeltzer ended up drowning the girl in the bathtub and hiding her body in a back alley garbage can in the dead of winter.
At an emotionally charged three-hour hearing at the minimum-security Riverbend Institution, Smeltzer insisted to the parole board, that although he is a pedophile and violent sexual offender, he poses no risk to children.
"I know I took something precious from the Thompson family," said Smeltzer, 52, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and rapes. He has served 28 years.
"Parole is a second chance at life. It's giving me the opportunity to change, to go on with my life and not hurt anybody. No more victims."
After deliberating for about an hour, the board granted him day parole for six months at a Regina halfway house. A written decision will be made available, but the board said it is satisfied Smeltzer has a good understanding of his risk areas. He must continue his sex offender programs and counselling.
"I want him to stay in prison, I don't want him to see the light of day. She doesn't get a second chance. Why should he?" a distraught Thompson said after the hearing.
"Life is life. Not 10 years, not 20, not 25. Life means you're dead when you come out of that place."
Thompson has not faced her daughter's killer since his Calgary trial 28 years ago, but she travelled from her Gabriola Island, B.C., home to attend the hearing with six members of her family to read victim impact statements.
Evelyn's son, Brad Thompson, said he was sickened by Smeltzer's apparent lack of remorse.
"He barely even acknowledged his part in her death," said Brad, who was eight when his sister Kimmie was killed. "He barely even referenced her. She's dead and he gets to walk."
Brad said Smeltzer's answers were what the board wanted to hear.
"He manipulates people. He's done it for years. How do you think he got away with it for so long?"
The board questioned Smeltzer's apparent lack of remorse following the girl's murder because he never came forward to admit his crime. Residents even accused Evelyn of killing her own daughter, but still, Smeltzer said nothing and his sex assault spree continued. It only ended because he was caught after raping two elementary school girls at knifepoint five months later.
"I feel it has always affected me, I just didn't show it at the beginning," Smeltzer explained. "(In time) I started feeling more of the impact of what my behaviour caused."
Dressed in a tan-coloured checked shirt and running shoes, Smeltzer kept his hands folded in front of him. The victim's family, seated behind him, wept as they read their emotional statements. Tears came to Smeltzer's eyes occasionally as he listened. He dabbed a tissue to his eyes a few times.
He described in detail how he spotted Kimberley the morning of Jan. 24, 1980, as he was walking to the store.
"Kimberley said hi to me. I walked down the end of the block. I grabbed her," he said. "I'd taken her into the house and asked her to take off her snowsuit. I said I wanted to kiss her."
As they sat on his parents' bed, the little girl began crying. Smeltzer lost his nerve.
"I got her a drink of water and we started talking. I asked her where she lived. I realized what I did -- I grabbed somebody from the community," he told the board, adding he began to fill with fear and panic. "Obviously I didn't want to get caught and go to jail."
Soon after, he filled the bathtub with water, lifted her into it and gently held her head under until she went limp.
"I couldn't believe I was capable of taking someone's life. It upset me to know that I'd done that," he said.
He said after drowning the little girl, he became "very paranoid and scared and didn't leave the house a whole lot unless I was with my mom or sister."
Smeltzer told the board he was sexually abused by his older brother and his deceased father was a verbally abusive alcoholic.
"Do you still have sex fantasies?" a board member asked.
"No, I don't," he replied.
"None at all?"
"No, I don't. I have fantasized but not to do with children," he said.
Smeltzer later admitted he was first attracted to a school friend's nine-year-old sister when he was 14 years old because she "cuddled up to me."
He confessed that while watching five minutes of Degrassi Jr. High on a prison television, he had to fight urges.
"Do you consider yourself a pedophile?" the board asked him.
"Yes I do. I'm attracted to little girls."
However, support group peers said Smeltzer was honest and had a desire to change.
"When I leave the institution, I plan my day and the first thing I tell myself is 'I am a sex offender, I am a pedophile.' Basically, that's how I prepare my day."