PLACER COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Five years ago, the family of Justine Vanderschoot fought to keep one of their daughter’s killers in jail and they were successful.
But over the next two and a half weeks, they will have to fight to keep both of the killers from walking free. The Vanderschoot family told FOX40 they don’t want to relive the pain if both of the men are released.
“Honestly, I get lost when I’m looking at it, there is so much going on right here,” Christine Vanderschoot said. “I miss that laugh.”
It’s one of the collages filled with stories, memories frozen in time hanging at the Vanderschoot’s home.
“She has not been forgotten in this family,” Vanderschoot said.
For Christine Vanderschoot, this is a reminder of her younger sister Justine’s energy, personality and sense of humor.
“It’s hard to think the way life could have been if she was still with us,” Christine Vanderschoolt said. “The things we could have done together, raise kids together.”
Nearly 19 years later, it’s the memories the family holds close. But this week, the nightmare they went through back in 2003 is coming to haunt them again.
“You forget how it feels to go through the process, and then, it’s like my dad always says ripping the band-aid off,” Christine Vanderschoot said.
“I feel like we are victims but are treated like a criminal in this state. Every five years, we have to go back through all of this stuff,” Don Vanderschoot said.
The parole hearings are what they will go through for the two men who murdered Don and Lynnette Vanderschoot’s 17-year-old daughter.
Justine’s then-boyfriend, Danny Bezemer, and his roommate, Brandon Fernandez admitted to strangling and murdering her. Lynnette Vanderschoot said this was all about jealousy, control and teen-dating violence.
“When you start looking back at the last summer, you start to see some signs he was controlling her,” Lynette Vanderschool said.
Fernandez’s parole in 2017 was denied. He will try again Thursday, while Bezemer will try to convince the parole board for his release on Aug.10.
“This is actually about the fourth time this wound has been reopened for the Vanderschoot family,” Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire said.
Gire is fighting to keep both men behind bars.
“To describe the case in a nutshell, I would say it’s chilling. It was frightening in its calculation, its callousness. The defendants tortured and murdered Justine — buried her while she was still alive,” Gire said. “The level of sophistication that was used for this crime, the level of thought and planning demonstrates someone who is unlikely to be rehabilitated. Someone who would present a danger to the community if they were released again.”
On Sunday, the community gathered at the historic Auburn courthouse to hold a candlelight vigil for Justine Vanderschoot to make sure she isn’t forgotten and hoping to they can kick this can five years down the road.
“I fear for my daughter’s safety, my whole family’s. I know what they already did; what are they going to do when they get out,” Lynette Vanderschoot said.
The family is encouraging people to sign an online petition to keep both men behind bars.