There’s more to the story about convicted killer Ryan Jason Love and his bid for parole.
For years, I’ve been waiting for news of his date with the National Parole Board. Not in some schadenfreude kind of way, but from my stint as editor of The Banff Crag & Canyon (before it was gutted and reduced to pap by its current publisher).
The crime was at the top of my list for compelling stories. Love and Lucie Turmel appeared to be leading such parallel lives. Close in age, both drawn to the beauty of the Rockies, longing for adventure and working unglamourous jobs to earn their keep. I wrote about the 10th anniversary of Lucie’s death, and I was astonished to learn many were still grieving. (Lucie’s beau kindly acquieced to an interview with me. After a decade, he still had a green garbage bag stuffed with newspapers — not clippings of the murder coverage, mind you, but whole sections of newspapers. He just felt compelled to collect them and couldn’t face the heartbreaking task of becoming the archivist of her death.)
Love was 18 years old when he robbed and stabbed 23-year-old Banff cabbie Lucie Turmel May 17, 1990. He was convicted of second-degree murder and sent to prison at age 22. He turns 40 at the end of September.
While he’s been locked up, Love has made many forward strides. He’s edited the prison magazine/newsletter, and come up through the ranks of William Head on Stage, a behind-bars theatre troupe. He’s written at least one play, garnered glowing reviews for acting, joined the theatre’s board of directors, and took the reigns as theatre manager. He’s given thoughtful and articulate interviews to the press about the benefits theatre offers inmates.
Love entered prison a wild child. Alcohol and drugs clouded his ways and days leading up to the murder. He was a high school dropout who quickly warmed to undercover officers posing as criminals. He was quick to accept their offer to act as lookout for a phony heist on the Sunshine Coast.
With the passing of two decades, there’s every chance that Love has grown up in prison and is ready to rejoin society.
But some will always wonder if it’s all just an act.
In an infamous interview with the National Post in 2000, Love — who was later unhappy with it, calling it a partial quote — claimed the theatre experience was “amazing:” “I’m supposed to be punished here and I think a lot of people might be upset because I’m having the time of my life.”
The quote caused an uproar.
But what struck me as more interesting was his claim that after serving eight years in prison (he was 28 year old at the time), he was uncomfortable around civilians: “My social skills are not yet up to par. I’m institutionalized. I’m introverted.”
What he meant was that he was afflicted with institutional syndrome; deprived of independence and responsibility and thus unable to function in the outside world.
It smacks of manipulation. Love has served very soft time. If Love was having problems, they were surely pre-existing anti-social disorders.
His cool return to Banff in the days following the murder says more about a manipulative mind.
I am travelling to William Head Institution to cover the parole hearing. It will be interesting to see who Ryan Jason Love has become, and to learn what the future holds for him.