Updated: 11/16/10 10:13 p.m.
DELTON, Mich./BATAVIA, Ill. (CBS) – Justin Boulay is out of prison and on his way to the palm trees and beaches of balmy Hawaii after spending 12 years behind bars for strangling his ex-girlfriend, Andrea Faye Will, at Eastern Illinois University downstate.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole spoke with the killer’s mother, Marcie Boulay, in Delton, Michigan.
She says her son, now 33, was originally supposed to spend a few days in Delton before leaving for Hawaii. Those plans changed under intense media pressure and death threats.
Boulay’s wife, who is his high school sweetheart, picked him up at the Danville Correctional Center at 8 a.m. Tuesday, and he was whisked away by a police escort.
Marcie Boulay says her phone conversation with her son today was similar to one she had with him on their last visit in October.
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“Two weeks ago, we went down for a visit. It was wonderful. We sat around the table and talked about his future,” said Marcie.
(Click below for more of the interview with Marcie Boulay)
Marcie says she understands the anger directed towards her son.
“We have a daughter. If that were to happen to our daughter, I’m sure we would’ve been the same way,” she said.
When asked what she would like people to know about her son, Marcie said, “That he made a terrible, terrible mistake that he regrets very much. His level of remorse is very high. He’s sorry for what happened, and hopeful that he can begin a life now.”
When asked what her son tells her about the crime, Marcie said, “He doesn’t say anything about it to me. Just that I made a huge mistake. I served my time that the judge gave me. I’m terribly sorry this happened.”
Marcie says she doesn’t know if Justin will reach out to Andrea’s mother.
“I think Andrea’s mother has enough trouble of trying to find some peace,” she said.
When asked what she thinks about the vigils being held for Andrea after her son’s prison release, Marcie said, “We’re all about religion here. Praying for Andrea, and lighting and honoring her time, there’s nothing wrong with that. We think that’s a good thing. The family needs to heal and that’ll help.”
Marcie says her son’s release date is something the family has been preparing for, ever since the day he was sentenced.
He may be anxious to make plans for the future, but the first thing he needs to do is register with parole authorities as soon as he arrives in Hawaii.
Meanwhile, as CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, in Batavia, family and friends of Andrea Faye Will, who was killed at age 18, held a vigil Tuesday evening to remember the victim.
“Having it today symbolizes the injustice of his early release,” said Patricia Rosenberg, Andrea’s mother.
Their pain is still palpable after more than a decade.
“It still breaks us. It’s still hard. But tonight we’re choosing to remember Andrea and to think about Andrea, and give her a voice. And not to think about that man,” said Michelle Voigt Felde, friend of Andrea.
Laura Glombowski, another friend of Andrea’s, says they are wearing purple ribbons to send a message calling attention to domestic violence.
“That’s what this situation is, and when we were 18, we didn’t know how to handle it properly,” said Glombowski.
Before the vigil, they took flowers to Andrea’s gravesite.
They say it’s not fair that Justin Boulay gets to go from prison to paradise. He is moving to Hawaii to be with the assistant professor wife he married four years ago behind bars.
Rosenberg is having a hard time with that.
“I don’t want anybody to ever forget, ever, what happened to her and what he did to her,” she said.
Rosenberg says she worries he will do this to someone else.
“I know he’s remarried, and yes, I’m afraid it will happen again,” she said.
Justin’s mother Marcie said, “I don’t predict that there will be any problem with him. He’s a very good person.”
“Their son is going on with his life. My daughter’s gone,” said Rosenberg. “They can take their child home. I’ll never be able to do that.”
Prosecutors tried to block Boulay’s arrival in Hawaii. Boulay will not be allowed to enter college campuses in Hawaii.
Boulay got out of prison after only half of his original sentence of 24 years because he was sentenced under old state laws that allowed inmates to get one day off for each day of good behavior.
CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller says Illinois law before 1998 is to blame for the fact that Boulay is being released.
“The law was for every day you do in the penitentiary you get one off,” Miller said. “You get a sentence of 24, you do 12.”
Andrea’s mom says there are vigils happening on campuses and park settings all across the country.