Elizabeth Wettlaufer: Search warrants show police were building the case for new charges laid Friday against the nurse accused of serial murder when she was first charged last fall
Susan Horvath, of London, talks with reporters outside the Woodstock courthouse after the appearance of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, the Woodstock nurse accused of killing residents in several southwestern Ontario nursing homes on Friday January 13, 2017. Horvath's father was included in the suspicious deaths in the case. MORRIS LAMONT/THE LONDON FREE PRESS /POSTMEDIA NETWORK
Investigators were contemplating murder and attempted murder charges against Elizabeth Wettlaufer from the start of their probe last fall when mental health officials alerted them to the now-accused nurse.
Sealed search warrants submitted by the OPP, and exclusively obtained by The London Free Press on Friday after a successful court challenge, describe the efforts police made last October and what they uncovered before Wettlaufer was charged then with eight counts of first-degree murder.
That included investigations into allegations involving six elderly and nursing home residents in Woodstock, Paris and Oxford County, that led to new charges Friday against Wettlaufer when she was brought to court in Woodstock and The Free Press was given access to the information.
In all cases, the police contended in the documents, “administering an overdose of insulin” was integral to the six potential attempted murder charges they were considering, involving six people ranging in age from 57 to 90 over a seven-year period at nursing homes in Woodstock, Paris, Ont., and a private residence in Oxford County.
By Friday, those same allegations translated into four attempted murder charges and two of aggravated assault against Wettlaufer.
The court documents, sworn Oct. 26, 2016, the day after Wettlaufer was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in deaths involving Southwestern Ontario nursing home residents, lay out the police rationale for demanding Wettlaufer’s educational records from Conestoga College in Kitchener, Fanshawe College in London and the College of Nurses of Ontario, the profession’s governing body.
The latest charges against Wettlaufer involve Clotilde Adriano, 87, her sister, Albina Demedeiros, 90, Wayne Hedges, 57, and Michael Priddle, 63, all of the Caressant Care home in Woodstock, and Sandra Towler, 77, of Telfer Place nursing home in Paris and Beverly Bertram, 68, of a private residence in Oxford County.
Nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer of Woodstock appears before Justice of the Peace Michael McMahon Friday in Woodstock, charged with four new counts of attempted murder and two of aggravated assault against residents of nursing homes in Woodstock and Paris, Ont., and another at a private home in Oxford County. Wettlaufer was charged last fall with eight counts of first-degree murder of residents of two nursing homes in Woodstock and London, Ont. (Chaz Vincent, Special to The London Free Press)
The reason the police wanted the documentation about Wettlaufer’s educational background was because “these records may show comments or concerns from professors regarding Beth Wettlaufer’s behaviour or work performance,” police contend in the warrants.
The court documents also give hints of how the police were gathering their evidence before laying any charges against Wettlaufer.
The overview of the case describes how Wettlaufer became connected to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto on Sept. 16, 2016. Her psychiatrist was Dr. Alan Khan during her stay there.
It was the Toronto police who first contacted Woodstock police because most of the allegations against Wettlaufer involved residents at the Caressant Care nursing home in Woodstock where she was a registered until 2015. The investigation was turned over to the Woodstock police criminal investigation bureau.
Wettlaufer’s psychiatrist was going to release her on Oct. 5, 2016, the day before an unusual peace bond was issued by the courts that kept Wettlaufer in Woodstock with an order to not have any drugs not prescribed, including insulin.
Officers began to search for death notices and obituaries of 10 potential victims. They also obtained production orders and began the painstaking search for health records from her doctor and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, plus employment records from Caressant Care in Woodstock, Meadow Park nursing home in London, Telfer Place in Paris and with Saint Elizabeth Health Care in Woodstock.
Other documents ordered produced from the nursing homes where the people lived included initial admission records, medical records, death certificates and triage notes for the named residents.
Also obtained was Wettlaufer’s letter of dismissal from Caressant Care from March 31, 2014.
Wettlaufer had worked for Saint Elizabeth from July 20, 2016 to Aug. 29, 2016 but quit on Sept. 2, 2016 after just five weeks.
Bertram was her patient during that time.
“There wasn’t any negative feedback from patients or colleagues regarding Wettlaufer at that time,” the documents read.
Wettalufer was also employed by “Life Guard” — a home care provider — until Aug. 7, 2016.
During discussions with officials at Telfer Place, the police were told Towler, one of the surviving patients, “went to hospital in 2015 after becoming confused.”
Khan, the psychiatrist in Toronto, was interviewed by Toronto police.
The police also learned that Wettlaufer, whose birth surname was Parker, had worked at the Geraldton Regional Hospital in Geraldton, Ont. in 1995. That information came from her ex-husband, Daniel Wettlaufer.
Also discovered was that Wettlaufer worked for Superior Greenstone for Community Living, formerly the Geraldton and District Association for Community Living, in the mid-1990s.
The court documents also spelled out Wettlaufer’s education and work background. She graduated from Conestoga’s registered nursing program in Stratford in 1995 and worked as a staff nurse at Victoria Rest Home in Woodstock from March 1996 to October 1996, and at Christian Horizons — an organization that supports with disabilities — starting in June 1996.
She also has a nursing foot care certificate from Fanshawe College and a Bachelor of Religious Education from the London Baptist Bible College in London.
Wettlaufer now faces 14 charges in total — eight of first-degree murder, four of attempted murder and two of aggravated assault. She’s being held at the Vanier Detention Centre for Women in Milton and is to return to court in Woodstock court through a video appearance on Feb. 15.
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The new charges laid Friday
Sandra Towler, 77, at Telfer Place nursing home in Paris
Beverly Bertram, 68, at a private Oxford County residence
Wayne Hedges, 57, at Caressant Care in Woodstock
Michael Priddle, 63, at Caressant Care
Siblings Clotilde Adriano, 87, and Albina Demedeiros, 90, at Caressant Care
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First-degree murder charges
Residents Wettlaufer is accused of killing:
James Silcox, 84, died Aug. 17, 2007, Woodstock
Maurice Granat, 84, died Dec. 23, 2007, Woodstock
Gladys Millard, 87, died Oct. 14, 2011, Woodstock
Helen Matheson, 95, died Oct. 27, 2011, Woodstock
Helen Young, 90, died July 14, 2013, Woodstock
Maureen Pickering, 79, died March 28, 2014, Woodstock
Arpad Horvath, 75, died Aug. 31, 2014, London
Mary Zurawinski, 96, died Nov. 7, 2011, Woodstock