Ontario nurse charged with murder in eight nursing-home deaths

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer of Woodstock, Ont., faces eight counts of first-degree murder in killings that took place between 2007 and 2014

WOODSTOCK, Ont. — A nurse in southwestern Ontario killed eight nursing home residents in her care, police alleged Tuesday as they charged the woman with murder.

Investigators say 49-year-old Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer of Woodstock, Ont., faces eight counts of first-degree murder in the killings, which they say took place between 2007 and 2014.

“The victims were administered a drug. We’re not in a position at this time to comment further on the specifics of the drug as it forms part of the evidence that is now before the courts,” said Det. Supt. Dave Truax of the Ontario Provincial Police.

He would only say that a number of drugs were stored and accessible in nursing homes.

The victims have been identified as 84-year-old James Silcox, 84-year-old Maurice Granat, 87-year-old Gladys Millard, 95-year-old Helen Matheson, 96-year-old Mary Zurawinski, 90-year-old Helen Young, 79-year-old Maureen Pickering and 75-year-old Arpad Horvath.

Police said seven of the victims lived at a Caressant Care facility in Woodstock, Ont., while Horvath resided at a Meadow Park facility in London, Ont.

Police said they believe Wettlaufer also worked at other long-term care facilities in the province but could not specify which ones, nor would they speak to a motive.

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 entitled to practise as a registered nurse.

A LinkedIn profile for someone of the same name showed an employment history that included working as a charge nurse at Caressant Care in Woodstock from 2007 to 2014, a job the page said involved assessing patients, administering medications and performing prescribed treatments.

It also listed less than a year of employment at Meadow Park in 2014.

The profile also showed a bachelor’s degree in counselling from the London Baptist Bible College.

Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Homes, which operates 15 facilities primarily based in small towns, said a former employee who left the company 2 1/2 years ago was the focus of a police probe.

The company says it is co-operating with police and remains in contact with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care regarding the matter.

Caressant Care says its highest priority is to continue providing for the “physical, social and spiritual needs” of its residents as the investigation unfolds.

Police said Wettlaufer appeared in court Tuesday morning and remained in custody. The investigation is ongoing and they said more charges could be laid in the future.

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