Thirty years ago, on the night before his high school graduation, William Chandler Shrubsall bludgeoned his mother to death with a baseball bat in their Niagara Falls home.
Eight years later, while standing trial on charges he sexually assaulted a teenage girl at a party, Shrubsall skipped town and fled to Canada. In 1998, police caught up with him in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he was convicted of three brutal attacks on young women and sent to prison indefinitely as a dangerous offender.
Now, one of this area's most notorious criminals is coming home.
The Parole Board of Canada late last year granted Shrubsall parole — on the condition that he be deported to this country.
Upon his return, Shrubsall must finish serving the pending seven-year sentence from the sex abuse case. He also faces more time behind bars for jumping bail. But instead of the life sentence he received in Canada, subject to periodic parole hearings, Shrubsall at some point will walk out of prison in New York a free man.
"He's worked extremely hard toward rehabilitation during his time in Canada, his incarceration," said Nancy Charbonneau, a Toronto lawyer who represented Shrubsall in his parole hearings. "I'm happy for him."
Nova Scotia's top prosecutor and some Shrubsall victims say the board made a serious mistake. They pointed to Shrubsall's well-documented pattern of harassment, sexual abuse and brutal violence and said he's certain to reoffend.
"I have seen and heard nothing over the last 18 years that suggests he has changed his behavior," said Paul Carver, chief crown attorney for the Halifax region. "He's still dangerous."
Shrubsall's troubling history dates to sexual harassment reported in 1986, according to evidence presented by Canadian prosecutors.
It was on June 25, 1988, the night before Shrubsall was supposed to speak as LaSalle High School's class valedictorian, that he beat his mother, Marge, to death. Shrubsall claimed the killing was a response to years of psychological and physical abuse.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. But an appeals court granted Shrubsall youthful offender status, citing mitigating circumstances and his high likelihood of rehabilitation. He served 16 months in prison.
Shrubsall went on to the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania, but authorities say he left a trail of disturbing behavior while largely avoiding legal repercussions.
At Penn, Shrubsall was accused of sexually harassing a fellow student and a university employee, for example. And two young area women who met Shrubsall when he conducted alumni interviews with high school students seeking admission to Penn said Shrubsall made inappropriate comments and kissed or attempted to kiss them.
The next time he was charged was in spring 1995, when a woman walking in Niagara Falls accused Shrubsall of grabbing her buttocks. He pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and served 60 days in jail.
Later that year, Shrubsall was arrested and accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl after she passed out from drinking too much at a party.
In 1996, after the trial but before sentencing, he left a suicide note claiming he had gone over the Falls. Authorities did not believe him and an aunt lost the $20,000 bail she had posted.
Shrubsall turned up two years later in Canada. He was living in a fraternity house in Halifax under an assumed name. Even before his arrest in summer 1998, prosecutors say Shrubsall stalked and harassed a number of women there.
T.C. was one of them.
T.C. was a college student who lived on the same street as Shrubsall's fraternity house when he took an interest in her. They dated for three months in 1997 — she knew him as Ian Thor Greene — and she said by the end she realized something was wrong with him.
When T.C. tried to break up with Shrubsall, he stalked her for three weeks. He followed her around campus and broke into her apartment using a key she didn't know he had.
"He wouldn't leave me alone," said T.C., a federal worker in Canada now in her 40s and one of two victims who spoke on condition she be identified by her initials. "It took over my life."
Between February and June 1998, Shrubsall became more violent. He used a baseball bat to fracture the skull of a store clerk during a robbery; grabbed a woman on the street and pulled her into a driveway, where he savagely beat and sexually assaulted her; and seriously injured a woman he met at a nightclub after she tried to leave his home.
K.C., the other victim, said Shrubsall seemed normal when they met at a club on June 22, 1998, and she agreed to go back to the fraternity house with him.
When K.C. decided to call a cab to take her home, Shrubsall threw her onto his bed, choked her into unconsciousness, punched her in the face and tore at her clothes.
"Once I rejected him," K.C. said, "he went from a normal person to a monster."
K.C.'s screaming roused Shrubsall's roommates. Shrubsall tried to say everything was OK, but he fled after K.C. broke free from him. He was arrested the same night.
K.C., now 44 and still living in the Halifax area, testified that in the first years after the attack she sought counseling for depression, was afraid of being alone and slept with a light on in her room.
Shrubsall was convicted in all three cases. Prosecutors asked a judge to label him a dangerous offender and called experts who found Shrubsall had a narcissistic and antisocial personality and was a borderline psychopath.
"The offender has led a life of deception, marked by acts of theft, fraud, serious physical and emotional violence, sexual perversion and death," the judge wrote in granting dangerous offender status in 2001.
'Triumph of hope over reason'
Shrubsall has been in prison ever since, with a parole review every two years.
The Parole Board of Canada had refused to grant parole, until changing its mind in November.
The board highlighted Shrubsall's completion of counseling programs and his lengthy period of incarceration. It noted Shrubsall had started seminary studies and wanted to be ordained or earn a doctorate. The board also said it was skeptical of Shrubsall's claim of remorse and said he seemed primarily concerned with himself.
Ultimately, the Parole Board said it would not have released Shrubsall except for the fact that further prison time awaits him in the United States.
Charbonneau, Shrubsall's attorney, conceded his crimes in Canada were serious but she said they were a long time ago and he hasn't had any behavior issues in prison. "He's stable," she said.
Critics of the board's decision say Shrubsall hasn't changed at all.
"This is the triumph of hope over reason," said Carver, who was involved in the original prosecution of Shrubsall. "It's very hard for me to comprehend the rationale for this."
K.C. said she found out about the decision when she stumbled across a CBC online post.
"I'm 100 percent sure that he will have a whole new set of victims," said K.C.
When Shrubsall returns, it will be under the name he took in prison: Ethan Simon Templar MacLeod. "Simon Templar" is the name of the character "The Saint," while MacLeod is his mother's maiden name.
He was paroled in November, when he was 47, but officials on both sides of the border either said they didn't know or couldn't say when the transfer would take place.
Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek said Shrubsall will be arraigned on a pending indictment of bail jumping, a felony, and will serve his sex-abuse sentence as he awaits trial.
Shrubsall must serve 2 1/3 to seven years in prison and faces up to another seven years for absconding, Wojtaszek said.
She said Shrubsall could be a candidate for civil confinement as a sex offender.
"He's not somebody that I think should be out of custody, ever," Wojtaszek said.