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Basil Borutski, charged with 3 Wilno, Ont., murders, blames police harassment

The man charged with killing three women near Wilno, Ont., in September was known to all of the women and to police for a long history of violence. In fact, he had just been let out of jail. So how was this allowed to happen? the fifth estate asks.

Friends of the 3 victims say police should have done more to protect these women

In a matter of hours last September, three women were killed near the small town of Wilno, Ontario. The man arrested and accused of their murders, Basil Borutski had a long criminal history, including charges involving two of the three women. How did the system that’s supposed to protect women go so disastrously wrong? Gillian Findlay investigates, with revealing interviews with family members, friends of victims and witnesses. 1:20

The man charged with killing three women near Wilno, Ont., in September blames "20 years" of what he calls police harassment for "why all of this happened," he told the fifth estate in an interview from jail.

In one of the worst cases of multiple-partner violence in Canadian history, 58-year-old Basil Borutski is charged with slaying Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, and Carol Culleton, 66, in separate incidents on the morning of Sept. 22 in Renfrew County.

He was known to all of the women and to police for a long history of violence. He had been released from prison just shortly before the murders.

In an interview from jail, Borutski was asked repeatedly by the fifth estate's Gillian Findlay whether he killed the three women and why. He would only say that in order to understand what happened that day, you would have to understand what he called 20 years of police harassment. 

"I think there should be an investigation into why the police didn't protect my rights as a human being," Borutski said. "Maybe then we can get to the point of why I'm frustrated and why all of this happened."

"I've been accused and accused and accused, and nobody has done anything on my behalf."

System failed women

Family, friends and neighbours see the situation differently. They question why the police, probation officers and courts failed to protect these women.

"Something is wrong with our justice system," said Eva Kuzyk, sister of Anastasia Kuzyk. "Something is wrong with people who didn't realize he was a serious offender when for years he's been beating women. Why didn't we know?"

“Something is wrong with our justice system,” said Eva Kuzyk, the sister of Anastasia Kuzyk. (CBC)

One of the victims, Nathalie Warmerdam, had been given a panic button to wear in case she was in danger from Borutski.

"I find it kind of ironic that the women were wearing bracelets, yet he wasn't," said Tracy McBain, Warmerdam's closest friend and confidante. "So the police would know where the victims were, but they wouldn't know where he was.

"Why aren't there more checks and balances on the person who has done this, as opposed to the person who has survived it?"

In the aftermath of such a horrendous crime, many questions are being asked by the family and friends of the three slain women, including where the authorities were.

Borutski had been identified by at least four women as being violent towards them, according to court records.

After an assault against Kuzyk, he was sentenced to 17 months in jail, and yet, after credit for time served, he was out in just five months.

The bodies of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam and Carol Culleton were found at three separate locations near Wilno, Ont., in September. The man accused of killing them has a criminal history involving Kuzyk and Warmerdam. (CBC News)

When he was released, his probation order included a specific clause that he have no communication with, nor go anywhere near, Anastasia Kuzyk. Borutski refused to sign it, according to court documents.

In the course of our investigation, the fifth estate learned that Borutski was openly breaking court orders that were part of his probation.

For example, he was forced to forfeit his driver's licence, but he often drove.

After he was released from jail for the earlier incidents involving Warmerdam, he was mandated to attend anger management therapy.

He was allowed to attend a centre called Living Without Violence, which is located in the township where Warmerdam lived and worked. Yet there is no record he ever attended the program, according to the counsellor.

The Renfrew County murders occurred in the middle of a federal election campaign, one day after what was supposed to have been a leaders' debate on women's issues.

The event was cancelled, but none of the campaigning federal leaders commented on the Wilno murders, while Ontario's Premier Kathleen Wynne tweeted condolences.

Basil Borutski, 57, has a lengthy criminal record for incidents with multiple women, including two of the three women he is accused of killing. (Supplied photo)

McBain said that's not good enough: "We saw this man coming, and the system did nothing."

"So thank you for the thoughts and prayers, but how about you roll up your sleeves, and see what can be done so that this doesn't happen again? Make some inquiries. Do something.

"Because there are three families that have been absolutely devastated by this. And I don't want there to be any more."

Borutski is scheduled to appear in court in early March, but it could be years before his trial begins.

About the Author

Lisa Mayor

Investigative journalist

Lisa Mayor is an investigative journalist at The Fifth Estate, hailing from Thunder Bay, Ontario. She has recently reported on the disappearance of four elderly people from the Muskoka region of Ontario and how governments in Canada rely on gambling addicts for revenue. Lisa can be reached at lisa.mayor@cbc.ca.

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