Man who killed teenaged hitchhiker, dumped body in Savona ditch has parole reinstated

Teen's killer back on parole

A man who killed a teenaged hitchhiker more than 20 years ago and dumped his body in a ditch near Savona is back out on parole after violating his conditions four months ago.

Brian Townsend, 73, was sentenced in 2009 to life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years after he was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder.

Vivien Morzuch, 15, was beaten to death and dumped in a ditch near the entrance to Steelhead Provincial Park near Savona. His body was found on July 31, 2000.

Morzuch had hitchhiked to B.C. from his home in Montreal hoping to find seasonal work.

Townsend met Morzuch at a Revelstoke gas station three days before the teen’s body was found. Court heard Townsend beat Morzuch with a baseball bat before binding him with duct tape, wrapping him in a sleeping bag and dumping him in the ditch.

The slaying went unsolved for years. Investigators zeroed in on Townsend in 2005 after he was linked to evidence found at the scene by DNA.

Townsend was the target of an elaborate RCMP Mr. Big undercover operation, which culminated in his confession to a Mountie posing as the powerful leader of a violent gang.

Townsend was granted escorted leaves from prison in 2016 and day parole in 2017. He was granted full parole in December 2020.

He was taken back into custody in September after he failed to disclose a new relationship with a woman to his parole officer.

Townsend was re-released following a Parole Board of Canada hearing on Jan. 12, despite his case management team recommending that his parole be revoked.

“While the board agrees that your risk to reoffend may have increased to an undue level when you were suspended, the board concludes your risk to reoffend is no longer undue,” the board said in its decision.

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