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Woman who tortured, killed area man has day parole extended

Coldwater's Faye Higgins, 55, will be allowed to live in a community-based residential facility 'to continue working toward a balanced and productive lifestyle'
Gord Evans was found dead in his Orillia home in June 2010. Faye Higgins was found guilty of second-degree murder. The Parole Board of Canada granted Higgins day parole in April 2023 and recently granted her six more months of day parole.

The Parole Board of Canada has extended day parole for another six months for a Coldwater woman who tortured and then killed an Orillia man she believed had sexually assaulted a child.

Faye Annette Higgins, 55, applied for full parole in September, a form of conditional release she is not eligible for until October 2025.

Higgins is serving a life sentence for the second-degree murder of Gord Evans, who was found dead in his Orillia home in June 2010.

Police initially had no solid evidence linking Higgins to what the judge described as “a ferocious pummelling of his body.” Two undercover officers spent months befriending Higgins and gaining her trust.

She eventually admitted her guilt to one of the officers.

A post-mortem examination revealed 18 stab wounds to his neck, back and chest, and a ligature mark on his neck.

Higgins, a personal support worker who provided services to Evans — who was on disability assistance — pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, receiving a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 14 years.

Higgins had a previous criminal history, which included impaired driving, assault and narcotics offences.

In April of this year, she was granted day parole because, at the time, her risk was considered “manageable” under the proposed release plan and supervision strategy.

In a decision released Oct. 24, the Correctional Service of Canada recommended the parole board continue day parole for a further six-month period to allow Higgins “to continue working toward a balanced and productive lifestyle and continue to build community support.”

In its report, the parole board notes Higgins has, since being imprisoned in November 2013, “incurred a number of charges while incarcerated, mostly relating to possession of unauthorized property, and more so when first in the institutional setting.” 

The most recent incident on file relates to Higgins being charged for disobeying a written rule in February 2023. However, the board notes there was no information to suggest she was involved in the drug subculture or using substances. She has completed nine random urinalyses, all of which returned negative for intoxicants.

Higgins has successfully completed numerous escorted temporary absences including many to the Healing of the Seven Generations, for family contact, and to the Friendship Centre. All were completed without incident.

The board noted she also engaged with Indigenous services, worked with elders, participated in ceremonies, and spent some time in the Pathways unit.

Higgins’s “institutional behaviour, and attitude and respect towards others, is seen to have improved in recent years and is a mitigating factor,” noted the board.

According to a psychological risk assessments in July 2022, Higgins presents a low risk for both general and violent recidivism, and the clinician supported a gradual reintegration.

However, the board said it could “not overlook the very serious nature of the index offence and its devastating consequences.”

“You took the law into your own hands, you acted impulsively and you tortured and killed the victim, causing lasting harm to his family,” the panel wrote.

“Although you have accepted responsibility for your offending and have demonstrated victim empathy, the board notes you were driven by your emotions, made poor decisions and did not consider the consequences of your actions.

“At your most recent hearing, the board credited you with not attempting to justify your offending or minimize the level of harm it caused. The board commented that while in custody you had taken the time to consider your poor attitudes and your need to control and manipulate others.”

When Higgins was granted day parole in April 2023, she was released under the supervision of the parole office to live at a community-based residential facility (CBRF).

“Since release, you have been making ‘fairly positive’ progress in the community,” the panel noted in its decision.

“You have been working with the Indigenous community liaison officer and the Friendship Centre. You interact appropriately with CBRF staff, developing a good rapport with them, as well as your case management team. You have also been participating in the Indigenous Women Offender Self-Management Program—Community and the Red Road Recovery Program. You are deemed to have no current identified mental health needs.”

However, in July and August of this year, Higgins breached her special condition that prohibited the consumption of drugs when she abused prescription medication. In the first instance, she used more of her medication than prescribed. In the second incident, she used another resident’s marijuana.

On both occasions, the correctional service maintained her release, believing her risk continued to be manageable in the community, and giving her credit for her co-operation overall.

“Your release plan is to continue to reside at your current CBRF and complete programs (you continue to have a number of ‘moderate’ needs), in addition to continuing to work with the elder and other Indigenous services,” the board wrote.

While on day parole, Higgins has several conditions to abide by.

Because she “caused lasting harm to the victim’s family,” she must avoid any direct or indirect contact with any member of the victim’s family.

She is not to consume, purchase or possess alcohol or drugs (other than prescribed medication taken as prescribed and over-the-counter drugs taken as recommended by the manufacturer).

“You have a history of substance use and prior substance abuse-related convictions. Any return to drug or alcohol use will increase your risk for re-offence,” noted the board.

“You also have a noted history of associating with those involved in the drug subculture. Given this, the board additionally imposes a condition requiring you not to associate or communicate with any person you know or have reason to believe is involved in criminal activity.”

Higgins must also attend a treatment plan or program to address her emotions management.

“You committed a violent offence and acted impulsively because you have difficulties regulating your emotions, and in particular, your anger. Although you have made a lot of improvements in this area, given the serious nature of your offending, you must remain vigilant in this area,” the board wrote.

Higgins must also immediately report all sexual and non-sexual relationships and friendships with males and any changes to the status of these to her parole supervisor.

— With files from Marg. Bruineman