'She's a monster': Families of those killed by ex-nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer struggling to forgive

The former registered nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer pleaded guilty Thursday to 14 charges including first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault.

'She took away my best friend and my hero, and I can't forgive that'

Susan Horvath, daughter of Arpad Horvath Sr., one of former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer's alleged victims, enters the provincial courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., Thursday. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Family members of seniors killed by Elizabeth Wettlaufer have spent the day hearing how people they loved were murdered. Now they're wondering if they can ever forgive the "monster" who did it.

The former registered nurse pleaded guilty Thursday morning to 14 charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault.

Laura Jackson, a close friend of  Wettlaufer's second victim, Maurice Granat, said she thought she would be able to handle hearing the difficult details, but found herself crying and in shock.

"Half the people in that courtroom have somebody who was affected by this," she said. "It's overwhelming, it's sad, it's heartbreaking."

Laura Jackson speaks with reporters outside the courthouse in Woodstock. (CBC)

Jackson described Wettlaufer as the kind of person "you couldn't pick out of a crowd." She suspects the murders were a way for the former nurse to become famous.

"She blends in, and the frightening thing is when you look at her you don't think 'monster,' and that's what she is. She's a monster," she said. "She's just a regular normal person who did these horrible, horrific things."

She took away my best friend and my hero, and I can't forgive that.- Arpad Horvath

The loved ones of victims were bracing themselves for a long and difficult afternoon in court that will include watching an almost three-hour taped confession.

"You feel great that this is all going down so quickly, but now it's thrown the fear of God into me about what we're going to hear," said Andrea Silcox before stepping into the courtroom earlier in the day.

Families won't forget trauma

Before the day began, several family members said they were struggling with whether they can forgive the woman who was meant to care for their loved ones, but murdered them instead.

Wettlaufer testified that a "red surge" would come over her before she killed a patient and described some of her patients as spunky and stubborn, annoying and "a handful."

Arpad Horvath used other words to describe his father, Arpad Horvath Sr., 75, whom Wettlaufer killed in a London, Ont., nursing home in 2014.

"She [Wettlaufer] took away my best friend and my hero, and I can't forgive that," he said.

Elizabeth Wettlaufer enters the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., Thursday. The former nurse pleaded guilty to killing eight elderly people in her care. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Silcox said her father James would want her to forgive Wettlaufer, but added the past few months will never leave her.

"I'll never forget my dad," she said. "I'll never forget what happened. I'll never forget these horrible days."

Susan Horvath said the families do have one thing to thank Wettlaufer for — pleading guilty and ending the painful court appearances.

"I think that everybody thanks her for doing that," she said. "We're all in a lot of pain, and I don't think we can handle much more."

With files from Kate Dubinski, Kerry McKee