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Woman who ordered killing of Stefanie Rengel denied full parole: documents

TORONTO — A woman who pressured her boyfriend into killing his teenage ex more than a decade ago has been denied full parole.

In a decision released today, the Parole Board of Canada says Melissa Todorovic, 28, is currently "unwilling or unable" to make the changes required to address her capacity for deceit and manipulation.

The two-member board panel says those issues must be addressed to mitigate the risk Todorovic poses to the community.

The board says Todorovic waived her hearing on Aug. 14 and did not provide written submissions, but there was enough information in her file to make a decision.

Todorovic was convicted of first-degree murder in 2009 for ordering her then-boyfriend, David Bagshaw, to kill 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel.

Both were sentenced to life in prison, though Todorovic was able to apply for parole after seven years.

Rengel had become the focus of Todorovic's jealously because she briefly dated Bagshaw years earlier.

Todorovic, who was 15 at the time, repeatedly threatened to end the relationship or withhold sex unless Bagshaw killed Rengel, which he eventually did by stabbing the teen multiple times on New Year's Day 2008.

In 2018, Todorovic was granted six months of day parole, but she was brought back to prison last year after the board found she had become entangled in a secret love triangle.

The board found she had contravened a condition of her release that required she disclose any new relationships, given that unhealthy romance played a central role in the murder plot.

Her day parole was eventually revoked and Todorovic's appeal of the ruling was dismissed in January.

In seeking full parole, Todorovic suggested staying at a halfway house where she would have access to support, or at her parents' home, according to the document released Wednesday. In both situations, she would seek to continue post-secondary learning.

The board noted Todorovic has benefited from programs and counselling while in prison, and since her return, has gotten a job in the institution and is working on upgrading her education.

However, the two board members expressed concerns over the "poor attitude" she displayed towards her supervision plan despite the support she received.

Though able to show insights into her risk factors, Todorovic nonetheless chose to lie about her activities while on day parole rather than seek help, they said.

"Essentially, without concern for the risks either to the public or to your release, you chose to initiate and maintain unhealthy relationships, engage in high-risk behaviour, and then cover up your activities, without concern for the consequences," they wrote.

"This indicates that major deficits in your personal/emotional and attitude domains remain and have not yet been mitigated despite your seemingly positive involvement in counselling and programming."

The board said Todorovic will need to built credibility in the medium-security facility where she is currently held, through openness and transparency and by showing she can use the emotional skills she has learned.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 19, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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