There are tragedies in life. The young child killed by a drunk driver. The family devastated by an early morning house fire. These events sadden us and make us reflect. “There but for the grace of God…” But if tragedy has a degree, there is surely none more unspeakable that the cold-blooded, brutal, shotgun murder of two beautiful children. Such was the case when Kim Anderson’s estranged husband, Jeff Anderson, killed her and her two children-Juri, aged 10, and Lindsay, aged 8. Juri died with his arms wrapped around his sister, in a futile effort to protect her. Wolves Among Sheep is unlike any book you have read-or are likely to read again. It is written by the person most affected by the deaths of these two innocent children and their mother-their father and Kim’s first husband, James Kostelniuk.
Compelled to write the book as an expression of sorrow and love for the family so cruelly taken from him, Kostelniuk also had a deep need to arrive at some understanding of why these senseless murders took place. This question led him to expose the influence of the Jehovah’s Witness organization that wielded total control over Kim’s life, as it had over himself until he found the resolve to break with the organization. In making that break, Kostelniuk knew he would be forever shunned by the Witness community and, according to its laws, forbidden contact with his own wife and children. The convicted killer, Jeff Anderson, was also a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It is a rare occurrence when a published novel is used as a victim’s impact statement in a parole hearing, but that is exactly what will happen with this book in the middle of February.
In Wolves Among Sheep: The True Story of Murder in a Jehovah’s Witness Community; author James Kostelniuk relives the tragic events surrounding the murders of his ex wife Kim Anderson, and their two children Lindsay (8) and Juri (10). The three were cold bloodedly gunned down in their own home by Kim’s estranged husband Jeff Anderson.
The story begins in Manitoba, with RCMP on Kostelniuk’s doorstep informing him about the tragic incident that took place in Burnaby, BC on August 29, 1985. In his narration of the events leading up to the fatal event the author recalled his traumatic upbringing within the Jehovah’ Witness community that included strict beliefs and public shunnings. At his own children’s funeral he was forced to sit at the back of the church, and his name was deliberately excluded as a family member.
Determined to find out what lead up to the tragedy James and his new wife Marge eventually began corresponding with the murderer with hopes of find out why the tragedy occurred. However, instead of answers the couple sought they were dragged into a web of deceit as Anderson attempts to use them as pawns for an earlier parole.
I found this story heartbreaking on so many levels. James’ personal torment is evident as he fights to maintain contact with his children from Manitoba, while he struggles with his faith in general. A faith that is shattered when he discovers that the tragedy could have been prevented if Kim’s attempts to gain assistance from the Jehovah Witness’s in BC had not fallen on deaf ears.
In a story that is both riveting and disturbing, it is evident that writing Wolves Among Sheep: The True Story of Murder in a Jehovah’s Witness Community was part of James’ personal healing process, and a memorial to his children’s lives.