A Muskingum County teenager convicted of murder nearly two decades ago will soon be up for parole, but the victim’s grandmother is making it her duty to keep him behind bars.
On Feburary 14th, 1993, Sara West, 5, was brutally raped, tortured and murdered by her babysitter Billy Joe Shafer, 16. He was found guilty of aggravated murder.
"In his confessions he said that he had planned to kill somebody and was just waiting for the opportune moment," says Shirley West, Sara’s grandmother.
In the beginning of Feburary, Shafer will be up for parole. Now Shirley West is on a mission to keep Shafer behind bars. West says Shafer has made death threats to her family and even put one against her grandson, Seth, in writing. West believes if Shafer is released he will kill again.
"This type of person that he is according to his pschological evaluation, they said that most people like him will, if let out, will do the same thing within a three to ten year period," says West.
Since 2004 West has been collecting signatures on her petition to keep Shafer behind bars. She currently has 33,000 signatures. Now West is looking for the community’s help in the form of letters.
"The parole board said if we write letters, if everybody who signed the petition would write a letter, wouldn’t that we wonderful 33,000 letters coming in and saysing ‘hey you better not let him out’," says West.
Letters requesting Billy Joe Shafer be denied parole can be sent to the below address before January 15th:
DRC Victim’s Services
770 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43222
Also, each page of the letter must include Shafer’s inmate number, A279420. Shafer will never see the letters. They can only be viewed by a parole board member.
West is also planning a rally January 3, 2010 at the International Brotherhood of Electical Workers Union Hall off Route 60 to honor Sara, but also show the parole board the amount of community support she and her family have received. Though her heart still breaks for her murdered grand daughter, West says it is her duty to do everything she can to keep Shafer behind bars and away from the community.