Ontario City In Shock After Nurse Arrested For Killing Elderly Patients

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The small town of Woodstock, Ont., is in shock after police arrested a local nurse, accusing her of killing eight elderly patients in two southwestern Ontario nursing homes.

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, 49, faces eight first-degree murder charges connected to the deaths of people at nursing homes across southern Ontario between 2007 and 2014. Seven of the deaths occurred at the Caressant Care Long Term Care Home in Woodstock and the other at Meadow Park in London, Ont.

Police say that Wettlaufer killed patients by administering fatal doses of drugs. “There are obviously a number of drugs that are stored and available in long-term care facilities,” said OPP Det. Supt. Dave Truax at a recent press conference. “Subsequent to our investigation, part of the evidence for this particular matter, all I’m able to say at this time was that a drug was administered.”

Responding to the arrests, Wade Poziomka, CARP’s Director of Policy, said the organization was shocked with the tragic killings, calling the murder of older patients, “no less odious nor less tragic than any other violent death of any other citizen in our society.” Poziomka went on to say that, “The age of the victims and their medical condition should play no part in how our justice system pursues those who violate the laws of our land and cause harm to another.”

What Wettlaufer’s motive could have been remains a mystery. Piecing together scattered online information, we find that she has been been a health-care worker since 1995, struggled with addiction issues, and written highly disturbing verse on an online poetry site (under the pseudonym BettyWeston), but has never caused any problems with neighbours or fellow employees.

The local Woodstock Sentinel Review described her as: “A friendly but low-key neighbour who doted on her dog. A nurse dedicated to her profession since 1995. A poet whose online posts include a descriptive verse from the perspective of a serial killer. A God-fearing single woman, whose education includes Bible school. A loving daughter. A recovering addict.”

In a statement on the matter, Caressant Care said:

“Our highest priority is to continue to provide for the physical, social and spiritual needs of our residents, and that remains our focus. We deeply regret the additional grief and stress this is imposing on the families involved.”

The names of the victims, ages, and the dates of their deaths are as follows:

  • James Silcox, 84, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Aug. 17, 2007
  • Maurice Granat, 84, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Dec. 23, 2007
  • Gladys Millard 87, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Oct. 14, 2011
  • Helen Matheson, 95, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Oct. 27, 2011
  • Mary Zurawinski, 96, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Nov. 7, 2011
  • Helen Young, 90, Caressant Care – Woodstock, July 14, 2013
  • Maureen Pickering,79, Caressant Care – Woodstock, March 28, 2014
  • Arpad Horvath, 75, Meadow Park – London, Aug. 31, 2014