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HURTING PARENTS NO FANS OF PAROLE
As the state Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments about overcrowded prisons, a Pittsburgh couple whose son was killed while living in West Virginia wants to make something perfectly clear.
They point out that people confined to prisons and jails are there because they committed crimes. Many did something deemed harmful and dangerous to everyone else.
Two people currently in West Virginia prisons were convicted of a very violent act affecting the lives of Roger and Janet McQuaid.
Fifteen years ago their son, Tod McQuaid, who ran a security company in Lewisburg, was drugged and shot to death. His body then was disfigured by acid and dumped in a ravine.
The parents say Tod McQuaid, who had moved to Lewisburg because it had a reputation as being a safe place, was the victim of a violent scheme to take over his business.
According to newspaper reports from the time, a woman named Tammy Wilson worked for Tod, lived with him and concocted a plan to take over the business. She convinced two other men who worked for him, Roger Cline and Harry Joe Johnson, to help.
On Oct. 6 1990, Wilson drugged Tod McQuaid's drink and then called the two other men to her home. It was there that Cline shot and killed the victim and wrapped his body in a tarp. The body was later dumped in a ravine in Ohio.
Cline also doused the body with acid to permanently disfigure the face.
According to court testimony, Wilson said it was the perfect crime and the three would go to their graves with the secret.
That didn't happen.
In the following weeks, Cline confessed to killing McQuaid and later implicated the other two.
Both he and Wilson were convicted of first-degree murder. Johnson, who testified against the other two, served nine years of an 18-year prison term.
Janet McQuaid recounted the ordeal in her 2004 book, "Security Breach, The Murder of Tod McQuaid."
In the book, she describes her son as a loving father of two girls and a devoted son who loved her homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Janet McQuaid writes about seeing the room where her son was killed, watching Wilson's trial and dealing with the fact that her son was murdered in cold blood.
Next month, Cline, the man who actually pulled the trigger, is up for parole. He's been denied early release twice, but the McQuaids remain vigilant about being at his parole hearings and voicing their concerns about letting a convicted killer back on the street.
"The Bible says an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," Janet McQuaid said during a recent trip to Charleston. "Roger Cline should serve 65 years in jail for the 65 years he denied our son."
Roger McQuaid contends Cline is someone who can be manipulated and there's nothing to prevent him from committing another horrific crime.
He argues that the state Supreme Court has complex problems to consider in its upcoming term and lawyers saying more prisoners should be paroled are simplifying the argument.
There's a reason people are kept away from the public at large and a reason a judge saw fit to incarcerate them, he said.
"If overcrowding is a problem, then build more jails," Roger McQuaid said. "Just releasing people back into society won't solve the problem. The surface is contaminated. We've got to fix the underlying problems."
Roger McQuaid said the thought of Cline or Wilson getting back on the street "frightens the hell out of us."
McQuaid said he's certain parole board members won't begin arbitrarily releasing people, but every time they hold a hearing, they need to take into consideration what this person's life is going to be like outside.
"I have my doubts that many of these people are going to be productive citizens," he said.
Cline is being held at St. Mary's Correctional Center. Wilson, who is up for parole in 2007, is being held at Pruntytown Correctional Center.
Contact writer George Gannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or (304) 348-4843.
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