A registered nurse is charged with murdering eight elderly people in southwestern Ontario.
Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer of Woodstock, 49, appeared in court on Tuesday to face eight charges of first-degree murder. She will next appear in court by video on Nov. 2.
The killings took place between 2007 and 2014, Woodstock police chief William Renton said at a news conference on Tuesday. It’s a shockingly high number, for a town that is already coping with the high-profile death of Victoria ‘Tori’ Stafford.
“We’re a resilient town,” Renton said.
“It’s very difficult for a community to have to endure these types of tragic incidents but the community is strong and the community will rally and work together to get through it again, just as we have in other major incidents.”
The multi-jurisdictional investigation began on Sept. 29 of this year. The next day, Wettlaufer gave up her nursing license. The College of Nurses of Ontario confirmed Tuesday that Wettlaufer is currently under investigation by the College and is not entitled to practise.
“The College is also cooperating with the police investigation. To maintain the integrity of the police investigation the College will make no further comment on this case at this time,” the college said.
— Cristina Howorun (@CityCristinaH) October 25, 2016
The investigation eventually grew to include the London police and the Ontario provincial police. Police held a news conference about the case on Tuesday. It has ended but can be viewed below:
The victims are 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. Seven of the victims lived at Caressant Care home in Woodstock, while Horvath lived at Meadow Park in London.
Caressant Care did not identify the nurse, but said in a statement that a nurse who left their organization more than two years ago was under investigation.
Caressant Care is “cooperating fully” with the investigation and will not be releasing more information, communications manager Lee Griffi said in a statement.
“We are determined to avoid compromising the police investigation in any way and are therefore unable to provide any additional comment at this time.”
Meadow Park confirmed in a statement that they “cooperating fully” with the investigationg. Meadow Park said Wettlaufer “left our home’s employ some two years ago.”
Like Caressant Care, Meadow Park said it would not be releasing more information “to avoid compromising the police investigation.”
Who is Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer?
Video: Registered nurse leaves the courthouse after being charged with eight counts of first-degree murder
Who were the victims in alleged nursing home murders?
Christian Horizons confirmed that Wettlaufer was an employee of theirs and that she left her job in June 2007.
“We are shocked and saddened by these tragic deaths, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the Woodstock community,” Janet Noel-Annable, Chief Executive Officer of Christian Horizons said.
A moment of silence was held at Queen’s Park to remember the victims. Watch the video below or click here to view it on mobile.
Police announced on Oct. 14 that they had identified a suspect and said they had taken all “reasonable measures” to ensure public safety, but did not say what those measures were, adding that the case is now before the courts.
The victims were given a drug, police said at the news conference, but didn’t say which one, again citing the ongoing court case. Police also wouldn’t say if Wettlaufer was known to police, what the suspected motive was, or if they were “mercy killings.”
Statement from Caressant Care: