Toronto

Former nurse ordered to stay away from nursing homes before being charged with Woodstock killings

Before charging a former nurse with first-degree murder in the deaths of eight nursing-home patients, police in Woodstock, Ont., subjected Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer to a peace bond that barred her from long-term care facilities and retirement homes.

Peace bond conditions barred her from long-term care facilities and possessing drugs, including insulin

Elizabeth Wettlaufer is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in nursing-home deaths in southwestern Ontario. (Facebook)

More than two weeks before she was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of eight nursing-home patients, police in Woodstock, Ont., were concerned that Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer would commit a "serious personal injury" and took out a peace bond that barred her from long-term care facilities or retirement homes.

On Tuesday, Wettlaufer was charged in connection with the deaths that occurred between August 2007 and August 2014. The patients were between 75 and 96 years old.

Wettlaufer, 49, entered into the peace bond almost three weeks earlier, on Oct. 6.

She signed it after staff at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) alerted Toronto police in September about information provided by the former nurse about the deaths of the patients, as CBC News learned from a source with knowledge of the investigation on Wednesday. 

CAMH won't comment on revelations

Under the provincial Coroners Act, there are a number of scenarios in which every citizen must notify a coroner or police of the facts they know surrounding a death. These scenarios include when a death has occurred as a result of violence, misadventure, negligence, misconduct or malpractice, according to the legislation.

It's unclear who at CAMH first contacted police. A spokesman for CAMH declined to comment early Wednesday afternoon.

"To protect the personal health information of our patients, CAMH does not disclose the names of its clients. Nor does CAMH comment on any ongoing police investigations," spokesman Sean O'Malley told CBC News.

Because the allegations did not involve any Toronto residents, the force alerted other police agencies.

Police have not said exactly how the patients died, except that seven of them received a fatal dose of a drug.

No insulin unless prescribed for own use

Court documents obtained by CBC News show that Woodstock police said they had "reasonable grounds" to fear that Wettlaufer would commit an offence. 

The peace bond, signed by Wettlaufer and Judge Stephen Paull, included 10 terms, including that she reside either at her own apartment or her parent's home in Woodstock and obey a curfew that she be at home between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. except to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, of Woodstock, Ont., is shown in this still image taken from video provided by Citynews Toronto in Woodstock on Oct. 25, 2016. (Citynews Toronto/Canadian Press)

Wettlaufer was not to provide services as a caregiver, and was barred from being at a nursing home, long-term care facility, nursing home or hospital except when necessary for her own personal health.

She was required to "continue any treatment for mental health" from her family doctor or CAMH, and was not allowed to possess or consume alcohol.

She was also not allowed to possess any weapons, or any drugs, including insulin, except prescribed to her or for her own personal care.

Care homes co-operating with police

Wettlaufer worked for Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Homes, which operates six facilities in southwestern Ontario. Seven residents died at the company's nursing home in Woodstock, Ont., a small community of about 37,000 residents 140 kilometres southwest of Toronto.

Wettlaufer also worked at the Meadow Park home in London, Ont., which is where the eighth resident died.

Caressant Care said Tuesday that Wettlaufer left the company two and a half years ago and that the company is "co-operating fully with police."

Meadow Park said Wettlaufer left its employment two years ago and also confirmed that it is co-operating with the police probe.

Police identified the victims from the Woodstock home as:

  • James Silcox, 84, who died Aug. 12, 2007.
  • Maurice Granat, 84, who died Dec. 23, 2007.
  • Gladys Millard, 87, who died Oct. 14, 2011.
  • Helen Matheson, 95, who died Oct. 27, 2011.
  • Mary Zurawinski, 96, who died Nov. 7, 2011.
  • Helen Young, 90, who died July 14, 2013.
  • Maureen Pickering, 79, who died March 28, 2014.

The victim from Meadow Park was identified as: 

  • Arpad Horvath, 75, who died Aug. 31, 2014.

According to her professional profile at the College of Nurses of Ontario website, Wettlaufer first registered as a nurse on June 8, 1995. She resigned on Sept. 30, 2016, one day after the OPP said their investigation began.

Wettlaufer is under investigation by the college and no longer entitled to practise, the governing body for nurses, practical nurses and nurse practitioners confirmed Tuesday.

Accused active online

On Tuesday, neighbours called news of the charges "shocking" and described Wettlaufer as friendly and unassuming.

"We would chat and have laughs," said Derek Gilbert, who lives in the same apartment building as Wettlaufer. "She seemed like an everyday, normal kind of person."

Wettlaufer was active on social media, posting pictures of her travels and her family on Facebook.

Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer is facing eight first-degree murder charges in the deaths of elderly patients in southwestern Ontario. (Bethe Wettlaufer/Facebook)

She also wrote several posts about her work as a nurse.

This post appeared on a Facebook page Woodstock police confirmed to belong to Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer, the woman facing eight first-degree murder charges.

She also appears to have contributed several poems to a site called allpoetry.com.

The profile name is bettyweston, but her own name is also attached to the poems, and the accompanying photo is one that appears on Wettlaufer's Facebook page. 

Links to the poems are not currently working.

One poem titled Inevitable, written about five years ago, talks about taking a life:

She watches some life drain from the notch in his neck vein.

As it soothingly pools it smothers her pain.

Sweet stiletto so sharp craves another cut.

Obeying a call she moves to his gut.

Blade traces a line from navel to spine

grating on rib bones slicing intestine.

Another poem titled Working Happy, from about six years ago, focuses on her care for the elderly:

Maybe it's the rye or the time of night but my day was not so bad.

Filled with work and satisfaction and old people.

See I work with old people and I love their candidacy,

their points, their wrinkles, their frailties their refusing to eat anything but ice cream, even their smell.

With files from Alex Brockman

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