Seven months before the mass killing in rural Saskatchewan, a parole official ruled that the key suspect did not pose a danger and that releasing him would help him become a “law-abiding citizen.”
A Parole Board of Canada decision dated Feb. 1 found that Myles Sanderson would “not present an undue risk,” and freeing him would “contribute to the protection of society” by facilitating his reintegration.
“The Board is satisfied that your risk is manageable in the community, if you live with your [blacked out] maintain sobriety and employment, and continue with developing supports, including getting therapy,” the board wrote.
Sanderson became the subject of a massive police manhunt after 11 people were killed and 19 injured on the James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon, Sask.
Among the dead was Sanderson’s brother Damien, who was also wanted.
Police have said little about Sanderson, except that he had a significant criminal record, was last seen in Regina and was wanted on an arrest warrant for three counts of first-degree murder following Sunday’s stabbings.
But his parole records recount almost two decades of crime, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, and associations with gang members, pimps and drug dealers.
Although just 31, he had 59 criminal convictions since turning 18.
His most recent convictions were for assault, assault with a weapon, assaulting a police officer, uttering threats, mischief and robbery.
According to parole records obtained by Global News, in July 2017, Sanderson showed up at his ex-girlfriend’s house and “acted in a threatening manner, made comments about a gang, and damaged property.”
While the children hid in a bathtub, he punched a hole in the bathroom door before going outside and throwing a cement block through the side window of a car. He had fled before the police arrived.
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Days later, during an argument with an employee at a “First Nations band store,” Sanderson “tried to fight the victim, and then threatened to murder him and burn down his parents’ house.” Again, police could not find him.
In November 2017, he threatened an accomplice, hitting him in the head with a firearm and stomping on his head. He then made the accomplice rob a fast food restaurant with a firearm, his parole records indicate.
The following April, while drinking at a home, he stabbed two men with a fork. He then went outside and beat a victim who lost consciousness in a ditch. Sanderson returned to the home and kicked in the door.
He was finally arrested in June 2018, after telling police they would have to shoot him. As he was being put into a police car, he kicked an officer in the face and head repeatedly, the parole board wrote.
His prison sentence totaled four years, four months and 19 days, along with 12 months of probation.
During his time in federal prison, Sanderson “participated in programming and cultural activities, and engaged with elders,” the records show. He was “reported to have made gains.”
In February 2021, he was transferred to a healing lodge. He was freed in August 2021 on statutory release.
The Parole Board said in a statement that statutory release was mandatory after offenders had served two-thirds of their sentence.
But Sanderson’s statutory release was suspended in November 2021 when he was caught lying to his parole supervisor. Three months later, the Parole Board cancelled the suspension.
In its 10-page decision, the Board wrote that while Sanderson had “a significant journey” ahead and needed to stay sober and get therapy, he had been “making an attempt” to deal with his emotional and addiction problems.
“To your benefit, you do seem to have maintained sobriety, obtained employment, engaged a therapist, were engaged in cultural ceremonies, had obtained a home for your family, and appeared to have been making good progress on reintegration,” the Board wrote.
“It is the Board’s opinion that you will not present an undue risk to society if released on statutory release and that your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law abiding citizen,” the decision read.
Upon his release, Sanderson was required to not consume any alcohol or drugs, follow a treatment plan, avoid his victims and their families, and have no contact with his children as well as an individual identified only by the initials V.B.
By May, however, Sanderson was listed by the Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers as “unlawfully at large,” and last seen in Saskatoon, about 200 kilometres southwest of the scene of Sunday’s mass killings.
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According to his parole records, Sanderson spent his childhood bouncing between family members. After his parents separated when he was 9, he lived with his father, who was allegedly violent with his girlfriend.
He then moved in with his paternal grandparents but returned to his father at age 11 “due to an abusive environment.” For the remainder of his adolescence, he moved back and forth between his mother and father.
A psychological report said his upbringing “created a sense of abandonment and feelings of not being wanted,” which it said played a part in his criminal conduct.
He started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at age 12 and began using cocaine at 14. In his mid-teens, he fathered a child with whom he has no relationship. He may have been a gang member at one time, his parole records indicate.
He had five more children but said alcohol had harmed his relationship with their mother “and there are reports of domestic violence in this relationship and a no-contact order was imposed as a result of previous domestic violence.”
“Considering your Indigenous background, the Board notes that there are factors from your background that may have contributed to your involvement in the criminal justice system,” according to the Parole Board’s decision.
Those include the inter-generational impacts of residential schools, neglect, exposure to substance abuse, experiencing domestic violence during childhood, family fragmentation, lack of education, and loss of culture and spirituality.
A psychological report, completed in October 2020, said Sanderson had reported past struggles with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, and he believed he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The psychologist said Sanderson was taking psychotropic medication to manage Attention Deficit Disorder concerns, and found there was a moderate risk he would re-offend.
The RCMP said Monday that Sanderson might be injured. Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said he was “very confident” Sanderson was spotted in the city on Sunday.
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