GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) — More than 20 years after two Grass Valley teenagers were murdered, the man convicted of killing them is walking free.
Sam Strange was released on supervised parole in Alameda County over the weekend.
In Grass Valley, Strange seems to be a household name not because of the city’s unique charm, but because of memories some people don’t want to remember. Like the day more than two decades ago when two 16-year-old girls were murdered.
Amber Raymond remembers that day in 1994 all too well. Her sister Dawn Donaldson and her sister’s best friend Crissy Campbell were killed.
“She was funny. She was smart. She was magnetic,” said Raymond said.
“My sister and her friend never got the chance at half of what he’s going to experience,” said Raymond.
A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections says the now 44-year-old Strange was granted parole back in August and Governor Newsom took no action, setting Strange free. He was released just last week.
Back at his parole hearing in August, Crissy’s family spoke up on his behalf and admitted to wanting to give him a second chance.
Crissy Campbell’s family has been candid in saying they believe Strange when he’s said he was only a witness to the two murders and helped move the bodies. Strange has said from the start that two others did the crime. But he has taken responsibility for his role.
At his most recent hearing, Strange was apologetic. “I don’t think I deserve anything,” said Strange. “I’m asking for mercy.”
It was at this same hearing, Crissy’s sister advocating for him.
“I didn’t want to say yes, free him – but now I’ve come to the realization and I wholeheartedly believe it,” a transcript from the court hearing reads – quoting Wendy Campbell.
She’s said her sister would likely feel the same way.
“I think Crissy would agree with us,” said Campbell. “I don’t think she would want him to be here forever.”
Raymond said it takes a lot of strength to forgive those actions. She said it’s strength she doesn’t know she’ll ever have.
The CDCR told CBS13 Strange was released on supervised parole on January 18. CBS13 reached out to Governor Newsom’s office to ask why he chose not to take any action. We didn’t get a response to that question.