As It Happens

Nathalie Warmerdam remembered as 'strong, energetic woman'

The small community around Wilno, Ont., is in mourning. Three women were found dead at separate locations in the area in eastern Ontario, and police say the accused, a 57-year-old man with a criminal record, knew the three victims.
The body of 48-year-old Nathalie Warmerdam was found on Foymount Road, about 20 kilometres southeast of Wilno, Ont., on Tuesday morning. (COPKA.ca/Michel Aspirot/CBC)

Wilno, Ont., is the kind of place where everybody knows everybody. And when news broke yesterday that three women who lived in the area were found dead -- it sent the community in eastern Ontario into a state of shock.

The names of the three victims are Nathalie Warmerdam, Anastasia Kuzyk and Carol Culleton. They were all known to the man accused of their murders.

Today, 57-year-old Basil Borutski appeared in court. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Community members held a vigil outside the courthouse to pay tribute to the victims. 

48-year-old Nathalie Warmerdam was found on Foymount Road, about 20 kilometres southeast of Wilno, Ont., on Tuesday morning. (COPKA.ca)

"It comes in waves and there are moments that I forget that she's gone because my mind still hasn't wrapped itself around the idea that she's gone," Genevieve Way tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

Way was a friend and colleague of Nathalie Warmerdam. They volunteered together at an organization called Citizens for Respectful Policing and developed a close working relationship.

"What I want people to know...my Nathalie, our Nathalie, was not just some woman who was shot by her ex, that's like one second in an amazing life," Way explains.
Genevieve Way, friend of Nathalie Warmerdam. (LinkedIn)

"If you were to meet Nathalie today, you would see a strong, energetic woman, really bright, really sharp as a tack, really positive."

Way last heard from Warmerdam in a voicemail message on the weekend. Way recalls that Warmerdam sounded great and was looking forward to a board meeting. Warmerdam never mentioned anything about Borutski's recent release from prison, raising the question about whether Warmerdam knew he was out. 

"She would have mentioned that worry, that he's out and either concern for herself and her family or concern for the other women," Way reasons.

She adds that Warmerdam was open about her past relationship with Borutski and did "all the right things" to ensure her own safety.

"She contacted police, she kept a record, she informed herself about domestic abuse and what she could do for herself," Way explains. "She's a smart woman. I think she took all the steps she could to protect herself...I don't know what she could have done differently."
A vigil is held outside the courthouse in Pembroke, Ont., on Sept. 23. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Way also knew one of the other victims, Anastasia Kuzyk, and confirms that both women had both been in past relationships with the accused, Basil Borutski. Way also says that her friend Warmerdam warned Kuzyk about Borutski, when Kuzyk started dating him. 

"Natalie was aware of the relationship between Anastasia and Basil, and she did warn her, and she did try to support her," Way recalls.

Anastasia Kuzyk was well-known in Wilno. Before becoming a real estate agent, Kuzyk was a server at the Wilno Tavern, which Way calls "a touchstone" for the community.
Anastasia Kuzyk was found dead on Szczipior Road in Wilno, Ont., on Tuesday. (Submitted)
"She was lovely, really gracious, really very sensitive to people. She would flow through the crowd, like I can picture her now just flowing through the crowd at the tavern and making sure everybody had what they needed, and a quiet word here and a laugh. She touched an awful lot of lives."
Police found 66-year-old Carol Culleton's body on Kamaniskeg Lake Road, about 200 kilometres west of where she lives in North Gower, south of Ottawa. (Facebook)

Way wants a better monitoring system in place to alert anyone who might be at risk when a prisoner is released. She thinks there are many questions that will need to be answered, but at the moment she is only processing the loss.

"Today, for me, is all about honouring Nathalie as a really precious person that we lost, and Anastasia and Carol as well. This community lost three good women."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.