Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Nurse accused in deaths of long-term care residents appears in court

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer leaves the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., on Oct. 25, 2016.


A nurse accused of killing eight seniors at two long-term care homes in southwestern Ontario has had her case put over to Nov. 18 after a brief court appearance Wednesday morning.

Elizabeth Wettlaufer, 49, was charged last week with eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of elderly residents at nursing homes in Woodstock, Ont., and London, Ont.

Police allege Wettlaufer used drugs to kill her victims between 2007 and 2014 while she worked at the facilities.

Story continues below advertisement

During Wednesday's court appearance by video from the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ont., Wettlaufer only spoke her name and said "that's it?" before the brief hearing concluded.

Outside court, Wettlaufer's lawyer, Brad Burgess, declined to comment on the case, saying: "anything I have to say, I'll say in the courtroom."

But the daughter of one of the alleged victims did talk and said her family asked for an autopsy from the coroner at the time of her father's death, but was denied one.

Andrea Silcox told reporters her father, James Silcox, died in 2007 and she had concerns about his death at the time.

"My father was a good, strong man and because I work in long-term care myself, it just didn't seem right," she said.

Silcox said her sister asked the coroner at the time about an autopsy. She said her sibling was told "he lived in long-term care, he was 85 years old, so why bother."

The coroner's office has said that every long-term care home is obligated to report deaths of residents, but deaths are only investigated when someone has died as a result of violence, "misadventure," negligence, misconduct, malpractice, "by unfair means," from any illness not being treated by a medical professional, "suddenly and unexpectedly," or "from any cause other than disease."

Story continues below advertisement

In addition to Silcox, the victims in the case have been identified Maurice Granat, 84, Gladys Millard, 87, Helen Matheson, 95, Mary Zurawinski, 96, Helen Young, 90, Maureen Pickering, 79, Arpad Horvath, 75.

Horvath lived at a Meadow Park facility in London while the other seven alleged victims lived at the Caressant Care Woodstock Long-Term Care Home in Woodstock.

Last week, police said the investigation into the alleged murders was launched on Sept. 29. Wettlaufer was arrested last Monday and appeared in court for the first time last Tuesday.

A source familiar with the case told The Canadian Press police began investigating after Wettlaufer provided information to careworkers at a psychiatric hospital in Toronto.

Officials from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health alerted Toronto police that Wettlaufer shared information with hospital staff that caused them "concern," a police source familiar with the investigation said.

The source said once Toronto police received the information from the hospital, officers interviewed Wettlaufer and found out that the alleged crimes had occurred outside Toronto police's jurisdiction.

Story continues below advertisement

That's when Toronto police passed the information to the Ontario Provincial Police and police forces in Woodstock and London, said the source.

Wettlaufer entered into a peace bond in early October as police feared she would "commit a serious personal injury" and had restrictions placed on her by a court.

She was required to "continue any treatment for mental health" with any physician to whom she was referred by her family doctor or "representatives of CAMH."

Wettlaufer was also not allowed to possess or consume alcohol and had to obey a curfew and reside in either her apartment or with her parents in Woodstock between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., except to attend alcoholics anonymous meetings, according to terms laid out in the peace bond.

She was also ordered not to possess insulin and was not allowed to work as a caregiver.

Records from the College of Nurses of Ontario show Wettlaufer was first registered as a nurse in August 1995 but resigned Sept. 30 of this year. She is no longer a registered nurse.

Report an error
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.