The man who helped abduct 9-year-old Nancy Shoemaker before she was raped and murdered in 1990 will stay in prison for now — but he’ll have another chance at freedom soon.
Donald Wacker’s fourth bid for parole was denied by the Kansas Department of Corrections’ Prisoner Review Board, department spokesman Todd Fertig said in an e-mail Thursday. The board refused to release Wacker for three reasons, he said:
▪ The serious nature and circumstances of the crime
▪ Because he denies responsibility for it
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▪ Public objections to his release.
Wacker signed the board’s decision Wednesday. He received a pass until December 2019, Fertig said – meaning he will be eligible for parole again in two years.
The board’s decision drew a mixed reaction from Bo and Julie Shoemaker, Nancy’s father and stepmother. They’re happy Wacker will remain behind bars. They just wish he wouldn’t be up for parole again so soon.
“We can’t say ‘Thank you’ enough to the people who signed the petitions and got out and got signatures and went to the hearing,” Julie Shoemaker said Thursday night from their home in Florida. “The support from all the people in Wichita...it’s wonderful.”
Wacker, 54, is serving a life prison sentence for helping Doil Lane kidnap Nancy while she was walking a block and a half from her south Wichita home on July 30, 1990. The girl had gone to a gas station to buy a bottle of soda to soothe her infant brother, who was sick with the flu. The men drove Nancy to a Sumner County field, where Lane sexually assaulted her and strangled her with a belt.
Her body was found more than six months later near Belle Plaine, about 25 miles south of Nancy’s home.
Bo and Julie were among dozens of people who attended a public comments session in Derby in October to protest the possibility of Wacker’s release. “He was the only person who could help her and he chose not to do that,” Bo said at the time, adding that Wacker watched as Nancy was tortured.
She would’ve celebrated her 37th birthday on Sunday, Bo said on Facebook. “Happy knowing Nancy is with the Lord where we all want to be, Sad because we are Selfish and want her back ... Hopefully we will get a parole decision this week,” he wrote.
Lane, who was convicted of raping and killing Nancy, is serving time in a Texas prison for a murdering a girl in 1980. He hasn’t started serving the 66-year sentence he was given in Nancy’s case and won’t unless he is granted parole in the Texas case.
Contributing: Stan Finger of the Eagle