A convicted child killer has been found dead from a possible suicide in his New Brunswick prison cell. The man was serving a life sentence for the second-degree murder of Shannon Morrissette, 5, seventeen years ago.
Gleason Bennett Williams died on Thursday as Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick. An investigation has been ordered dealing with the circumstances surrounding his death.
In 1992 the Prince Edward Island native slit the throat of Shannon Dawn Morrissette after strangling her. Shannon was hearing-impaired and unable to speak.
Williams, 54, had been denied day passes by the National Parole Board just two weeks ago. The board has decided that Williams showed little insight concerning his behavior and posed a risk to reoffend.
The family of Shannon is said to be relieved that Williams is no longer a threat. Janet Morrissette was at the prison two weeks ago when Williams was up for the parole hearing. She spoke on her daughter’s behalf on why the man should not be allowed outside of the prison’s walls.
Ms. Morrissette told the National Post her feelings about hearing that Williams was dead.
“My heart started racing. I started thinking, ‘Oh no, he’s appealing [the denied day parole] and I’d have to go back there. All those emotions, in the 30 seconds of answering the phone,” Ms. Morrissette said from her Regina home.
“Then, when they said, ‘We’re victim services. He’s dead,’ I was so relieved.”
Williams was found in his cell during a routine cell check.
CBC quotes Dorchester Institute’s assistant warden Brenda Hastie:
“We found Mr. Williams unresponsive in his cell. Action was taken to, you know, do CPR, take care of him, [but] he was pronounced dead.”