Ex-Nurse Pleads Guilty to Killing 8 Patients at Ontario Nursing Homes
A former nurse pleaded guilty on Thursday to killing eight patients at Ontario nursing homes in what news reports said was among the worst string of serial killings in Canadian history.
The former nurse, Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, 49, admitted to injecting a total of 14 people with insulin for no medical reason from 2007 to 2014. Eight of those injections proved fatal and six other people were seriously injured.
The eight patients who died ranged in age from 75 to 96. Seven of them lived at a nursing home in Woodstock, a farming and manufacturing city of 37,000, where Ms. Wettlaufer worked until 2014. The eighth patient died about an hour’s drive away, at a home in London, Ontario, that had briefly employed Ms. Wettlaufer.
Some of the victims had dementia, news reports said.
In court on Thursday, Ms. Wettlaufer said she had felt angry about her career and her life’s responsibilities, according to The Associated Press. The rage would build until she felt an “urge to kill,” prosecutors said — and subside only after she did so.
“Ms. Wettlaufer got that ‘red surging feeling’ — and God telling her, ‘This is the one,’” the prosecutors told the court, according to The A.P.
She told the court on Thursday that she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when performing the injections.
“You knew this could be fatal?” Justice Bruce Thomas of Superior Court asked Ms. Wettlaufer, according to CBC News.
“Yes, your honor,” she replied.
Emails and a phone call to officials with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada on Thursday night were not returned. Efforts to contact a lawyer for Ms. Wettlaufer were also unsuccessful.
She is scheduled to be sentenced in late June, CBC News said.
Ms. Wettlaufer studied nursing at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario, and religious counseling at London Baptist Bible College. She began working as a nurse in 1995.
Ms. Wettlaufer’s posts on social media combined with public records suggest that she encountered adversity thereafter, and may have struggled to find steady employment.
Ms. Wettlaufer separated from her husband not long before she began working at the Woodstock nursing home, owned by Caressant Care. The company said she left in 2014, and Ms. Wettlaufer told the police she was fired, according to the CBC News report.
In a Facebook post about a year after the police said the final murder took place, Ms. Wettlaufer suggested that she had experienced problems with alcohol.
Then, just before her October 2016 arrest, Ms. Wettlaufer agreed to meet conditions laid out in a so-called peace bond, essentially a promise to a court not to break the law.
The conditions included a strict curfew, a promise that she continue mental health treatment and abstain from alcohol and a pledge that she stay out of hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities.
She was also specifically barred from possessing insulin.
“I just had a sense after my marriage broke up that God was going to use me for something,” Ms. Wettlaufer said in a videotaped confession with the police. “After a while, I started to really wonder, after some of the murders, if it was God or if it was the Devil fooling me.”
Ms. Wettlaufer’s mother, Hazel Parker, told CBC News on Thursday that her daughter had bipolar disorder and was receiving medication.
Also on Thursday, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario called for a “public inquiry into the deaths of the residents who died at the hands of Elizabeth Wettlaufer.”
“We need to get to the bottom of what happened, how it happened and what we can learn from an organizational, regulatory and system perspective to ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” the statement said. “Nurses across Ontario, Canada and beyond, share the outrage about this gross violation of the most sacred principle of our profession — the commitment entrusted in us to ensure the well-being of patients and their families.”
The police identified the nursing home victims as James Silcox, 84; Maurice Granat, 84; Gladys Millard, 87; Helen Matheson, 95; Mary Zurawinski, 96; Helen Young, 90; Maureen Pickering, 79; and Arpad Horvath, 75.