Brandon Fernandez, one of the two men who killed 17-year-old Justine Vanderschoot will become eligible for parole on Sept. 1 after serving 15 years of his 15 years-to-life sentence. In response, Vanderschoot’s parents and other community members are petitioning the parole board to give a simple, clear answer: no.
Vanderschoot was murdered by her boyfriend, Daniel Bezemer, and his roommate, Fernandez, in September 2003. Both men escaped the death penalty by accepting a plea deal and leading Placer County Sheriff’s deputies to Justine’s grave in Applegate.
Community members gathered at a candlelight vigil in memory of the Christian Valley teen and and in support of her friends and family’s efforts to block Fernandez’s parole on Saturday, Aug. 19 at the Clipper Gap Park and Ride off of Interstate 80 where Vanderschoot’s body was found in a shallow grave 14 years earlier, according to a Facebook post from the Placer County Sheriff’s Department.
In addition to a vigil, Ashley Dupin-Koby started a change.org petition asking the parole board to reject Fernandez’s parole. The petition has garnered 20,026 supporters, with less than 5,000 to go to reach its stated goal of 25,000 signatures.
Vanderschoot’s parents, Don and Lynnette Vanderschoot, were clear on their stance on Fernandez or Bezemer ever being paroled when they spoke with CBS Sacramento at Saturday night’s vigil.
“When is it enough?” Don said to CBS Sacramento. “When should we call it good? Is it ever going to be good? He gets out of prison. Is she going to come through my door? No.”
The Placer County Sheriff’s Department and Vanderschoot’s family ask that anyone who wants to support their cause send letters to Avenal State Prison, Attn. Jennifer Shaffer, Executive Officer, Board of Parole Hearings, PO Box 8, Avenal, CA, 93204.