MANDEL: Killer Melissa Todorovic still pulling the strings?
November 27, 2018
November 27, 2018 8:35 PM EST
Melissa Todorovic is shown in an undated handout photo. Canadian Press file
Time marches on for everyone but the dead and the shattered families who grieve them.
Of course, Melissa Todorovic has been granted day parole after serving just short of 11 years of her life sentence for blackmailing her boyfriend into killing 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel.
We’d be fools to be shocked. In fact, the only surprising thing here is that Todorovic, 26, wasn’t on her way to a halfway house when she was first eligible to apply five years ago.
Instead, she has patiently bided her time, a puppet master well-versed in what she needs to do to get her own way.
Melissa Todorovic, convicted of persuading her boyfriend to kill 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel.
Todorovic was only 15 when the ‘A’ student became strangely obsessed with Rengel, who had briefly — and platonically — dated her boyfriend, David Bagshaw, two years before. After her unrelenting eight-month campaign of phone calls, 50,000 MSN messages and thousands of texts rife with sexual blackmail — “Ur getting blocked until u kill her” — her lovesick boyfriend finally agreed to carry out the plan.
On New Year’s Day, 2008, just days shy of his 18th birthday, Bagshaw lured Stefanie from her East York home and stabbed her six times in the abdomen, ripping through the black sweater her mother had given her for Christmas just days before.
Undated photo of Stefanie Rengel, 14. Postmedia file
He then left her to bleed to death in a snowbank while he hurried to Todorovic to claim his sexual reward.
“Is she dead?” Todorovic had demanded.
First she wanted Baghsaw to re-enact the murder. Once satisfied, she delivered on her promise and the two killers had triumphant sex while Stefanie’s body was still warm.
Their celebration was short-lived, of course. Within hours of the vicious murder, Bagshaw, 17, and Todorovic, 15, were under arrest. Both were convicted of first-degree murder under the Youth Criminal Justice Act but sentenced as adults to life terms with Bagshaw eligible for parole after 10 years, Todorovic after just seven.
The wise Justice Ian Nordheimer, now on the appeal court, had her number from the start: “The puppet master is not less blameworthy than the puppet,” he ruled in deciding to sentence her as an adult and not a youth.
“Indeed, I would suggest that the master is more culpable since he or she puts the wheels in motion and then stands back under a façade of disassociation while the scheme that they have created unfolds.”
Todorovic could have sought day parole in 2013 and full parole in January 2015.
So here’s the only good news in this story: The mastermind killer has been in Grand Valley Institution for Women until now instead of being freed to a halfway house as far back as 2013.
But now she’s heading to Brampton with her eyes on a heterosexual relationship after her many years on the inside. She insists she’s now successfully dealt with her issues of jealousy, anger and low self-esteem, so presumably no former girlfriends need fear her homicidal plots.
Or is she just saying what the parole board wants to hear? Todorovic was already a master manipulator as a young teen. Just imagine what she’s learned since then.
And how can she be rehabilitated when we still don’t know what would possess an otherwise normal high schooler to coolly orchestrate the violent execution of a girl she’d never even met?
Stefanie’s grieving mother, Patricia Hung, is understandably skeptical. Last year, her daughter’s killer said she felt like a monster for killing “somebody” — with no sign of the all-consuming, “crushingly sorry” emotions that a truly remorseful person would display.
“We all know that prison sentences are not exclusively about punishment and that the goal, at least in theory, is equally about rehabilitation and reintegration into society,” the retired police officer said in her victim impact statement.
“I do not see a changed person in Melissa. I see someone who has become more cunning, hoping with those few words of so-called remorse that she is fooling those who should have the experience to see through them, I do not hear empathy here, except for herself.”
Yet here we are, as predicted, with Todorovic perhaps having successfully pulled the strings she needed to free herself from prison.