John Gamble, Amy Frink's killer, released early from prison
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 5:47 p.m.
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A man convicted for his part in the murder, rape and kidnapping of a Shallotte teenager in 1994 was released early from prison Monday, despite a petition from family and friends to keep him behind bars.
John Gamble, 46, was released after spending a little more than nine years in prison for the murder of 18-year-old Amy Frink. He is now in Brunswick County, said Patsy Joiner of the state’s administrative parole commission.
Gamble started serving a 30-year prison sentence July 17, 2000, for being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder, rape and kidnapping.
Amy Frink’s mother Birdie Frink said Gamble is now living within a block of where her daughter’s car was found, and that it “is like a slap in the face.”
Gamble was released as part of The Mutual Agreement Parole Program, which is available to inmates who committed crimes before Oct. 1, 1994, and were sentenced under the state’s Fair Sentencing Act. They also must be within three years of parole eligibility and be infraction-free for 90 days prior to being recommended for parole, according to the Department of Correction.
Joiner said Gamble will be under supervision for 90 days, and if he breaks parole he’ll be sent back to prison. He does not have to register as a sex offender because being an accessory after the fact doesn’t require it, she said.
Frink’s family and friends circulated an online petition and sent it to the parole board, asking that Gamble not be released early.
Amy Frink’s friend Connie Babson said they gathered 757 signatures but did not get a response from the parole board.
“We are all heartbroken and devastated over this,” she said in an e-mail.
Birdie Frink said that she and her husband did not know about the petition until a few days ago and that by 5 p.m. Tuesday the signatures had grown to around 1,400. She said she was grateful for all the support.
Birdie Frink said she knew the petition would have no impact on the parole board’s decision but she will use the support to advocate for legislation to change the lingering effects of the Fair Sentencing Act.
Joiner said Gabmle’s release had already been determined before the petition was received.
“The commission basically had no choice in that,” she said.
On June 23, 1994, Frink was tortured, raped, stabbed and eviscerated in Brunswick County. Her killers left her to bleed to death across the state line in South Carolina, authorities said.
Gamble previously told the Star-News he is serving time for a crime he didn’t commit and regrets helping prosecutors.
The other man convicted of being an accessory to Frink’s murder was set free in 2008. John Paul Counts, 42, was released early from prison for good behavior.
There were three other suspects in Frink’s murder. None has been charged in the case, although they have served time on unrelated charges.
District Attorney Rex Gore has said the case remains open.
Babson said she could not believe Gamble and Counts do not have to register as sex offenders. “I just don’t understand what legal logic makes that acceptable,” she said.
She said the online petition against Gamble’s release will stay up, and she and others plan to help Birdie and Barry Frink advocate for tougher laws.
“We are rallying with Barry & Birdie Frink to help them change the laws that gave these murderers more rights than the victim they slayed, and to enforce stiffer sentencing,” she said in the e-mail.
Birdie, founder of the victims’ support group Justice for Citizens, said she and Barry plan to fight to change the system.
“We still need more changes in the judicial and the correctional systems,” Barry Frink said.
Shelby Sebens: 343-2076
On Twitter.com: @ShelbySebens