After struggling to express empathy in the past, a young woman who pressured her boyfriend into killing his teenage ex more than a decade ago appeared to show genuine remorse at a recent parole hearing, the Parole Board of Canada said Tuesday.
The board released its reasons for granting Melissa Todorovic six months of day parole, a decision made last month after a hearing at the Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont.
The two-member panel said Todorovic, now 26, has made progress in addressing her emotions and relationship patterns, and in acknowledging her role in the 2008 killing of 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel.
Todorovic recognized that in the months following Rengel’s death, her focus was more on minimizing her responsibility than understanding the impact of her actions on the teen and her family, the board said.
“Today, you acknowledged your responsibility for the victim’s death and the considerable harm you have caused her family,” the board wrote. “Although you struggled at times to find the words, it was apparent to the board that your remorse was genuine.”
Todorovic was convicted in 2009 for masterminding the murder of Rengel, of whom she grew intensely jealous despite having never met her.
Her obsession with Rengel stemmed from the fact that the girl had briefly dated Todorovic’s then-boyfriend, David Bagshaw, years earlier, which led Todorovic to see her as a rival.
In a series of messages and phone calls, Todorovic threatened to end the relationship or withhold sex unless Bagshaw killed his ex — a command he eventually carried out.
Bagshaw stabbed Rengel six times on New Year’s Day after luring her out of her house. He then left her to die in a snowbank.
Todorovic was sentenced in 2009 as an adult to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years, the maximum adult sentence for someone her age. She challenged the ruling but it was upheld on appeal. Bagshaw is also serving a life sentence.
At last month’s hearing, Rengel’s mother questioned Todorovic’s remorse, saying the young woman’s appeared emotionless, her words scripted.
Several of Rengel’s family members, who were present at the hearing, expressed disappointment at the board’s decision that day.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press