Ottawa

Family, friends of murdered women doubtful about inquest

Friends and family of three women murdered by the same man in 2015 warn an inquest into their deaths will only be worthwhile if its recommendations are heeded.

Inquest into deaths of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam announced Wednesday

An inquest will be held into the deaths of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam and Carol Culleton, left to right. The three women were murdered by Basil Borutski in September 2015. (CBC News)

Friends and family of three women murdered by the same man in 2015 warn an inquest into their deaths will only be worthwhile if its recommendations are heeded.

On Wednesday, Ontario's Ministry of the Solicitor General announced an inquest into the deaths of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam.

The three women were murdered by Basil Borutski in and around Wilno, Ont., in September 2015. All three had previously been in relationships with Borutski, who was convicted and sentenced to 70 years in prison in December 2017.

It looks to me that this process is largely an attempt to shore up the public's trust and faith in the legal system.- Genevieve Way

Nathalie Warmerdam's daughter, Valerie Warmerdam, said she doesn't plan to take part in the inquest, but hopes it can do some good.

She worries, however, that its recommendations will be ignored, and that history will repeat itself. 

"Even if it does come up with good, useful recommendations, that requires politicians to follow through and use them," Warmerdam cautioned.

Genevieve Way was a friend of Nathalie Warmerdam, and also cared for Anastasia Kuzyk's dog after the murders. (Steve Fischer/CBC)

Key questions

Genevieve Way, who was a close friend of Warmerdam's, worries the inquest will fail to answer some key questions.

"How can we not only prevent murders like these, but also prevent the years of abuse and terror that lead up to them?" Way asked in an email to CBC.

"It looks to me that this process is largely an attempt to shore up the public's trust and faith in the legal system; to make people think the legal system is doing something about the murders; to make us feel safe."

Way suggested the province fund community meetings where those affected by the murders can discuss the issues among themselves.

Leighann Burns, executive director of Harmony House, says there have been numerous inquests into similar deaths, and their recommendations have been largely ignored. (CBC News)

Recommendations ignored

Leighann Burns, executive director of Harmony House, an Ottawa women's shelter, also expressed doubt in the inquest's usefulness, and suggested politicians instead focus on recommendations that have been shelved for years.

"I'm not sure what's going to be learned from another inquest. We've had many inquests over the years," Burns said.

She pointed to the 1998 May-Iles "super-inquest," which examined the 1996 murder of Arlene May by Randy Iles, who then killed himself. Several similar inquests followed in the intervening years, and Burns said domestic violence death review committees have come out with hundreds of recommendations.

Burns said what they often discover is that the system fails to hold abusers to account.

"I'm not sure what another inquest into a very well-studied and understood problem is going to help us with," Burns said.

"The public has a right to know, what are you doing with those recommendations? What have you done? Are you holding anybody to account? Are you making sure they're doing them? And are they working?"

With files from Sandra Abma

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