Olrich family fights for new law to extend time between parole hearings

Old photograph of Sandra Olrich on her wedding day and her three sisters, Kim, Lori, and Cindy (left to right).


he family of murder victim, Sandra Olrich, is working on new legislation which would extend the time between parole hearings from two years to five years.

Olrich was stabbed to death in 1982. Her brother-in-law, Howard Marnell, plead guilty to the murder. He was recently granted parole after being denied eight times.

"It's not a fight we chose. It's a fight that was brought to us," says Sandra's younger sister, Cindy Bishop.

The family has joined forces with a woman who knows their pain, Janice Grieshaber-Geddes. After her daughter was stabbed to death in Albany in 1997, Grieshaber-Geddes became an advocate for eliminating parole for first time offenders. It became known as "Jenna's Law."

Howard Marnell's brother, Patrick Marnell, did not want his brother to be released from prison. He's written letters and spoken at several parole board hearings to try and keep his brother locked up. He says it's been painful for him and his family to revisit the murder every two years for parole hearings.

"It's like reliving a nightmare over and over again every two years. Then it takes a couple years to heal then you have to relive it all over again. There's never really any healing for the victims," says Marnell.

Howard Marnell's daughter, Jessica Ward, agrees.

"You were a victim years ago when it happened and then you're a victim the rest of your life when you have to do it every two years," says Ward.

It's too late for this law to protect Sandra's family since Marnell is already a free man. However, her sisters, Lori Tily and Kim Erlenback, know it's still a fight worth fighting.

"If we can help someone else keep someone dangerous in prison for a little while longer it's worth it," says Erlenback.

"For us, it gives us a purpose to try to make something good out of something that was bad," says Tily.

The family says it's not too late to make a difference and continue fighting for other families.

"Every time I question myself on if it's the right thing to do all I have to do is look at my sister's picture. And I think about everyone else that's looking at their loved one's picture that's not there anymore," says Bishop.

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