Elizabeth Wettlaufer: Pain of grieving families clear as killer nurse pleads guilty to 14 crimes, including the murders of eight nursing-home patients in her care in London and Woodstock
Before he took his last breath, James Silcox apologized to the nurse who killed him.
That was the moment when Thursday’s court proceedings caught up to Andrea Silcox.
“I had a complete meltdown when I heard that my father had last words,” she said. Silcox had recalled her father’s unhappiness at being in long-term care. She knew he might have given his nurses a hard time.
But to hear that the 84-year-old military veteran apologized to the nurses at Caressant Care on his deathbed, after Elizabeth Wettlaufer administered enough insulin to kill him, was too much to bear.
“I was devastated to hear that my father had those last words,” she said.
“It’s been really, really rough this morning. I pray to God I never have to go through anything like this again in my life. This will age a person.”
Nothing could prepare the families to hear Canada’s worst health care serial killer admit to taking the lives of their loved ones.
“I’m pretty shocked right now,” said Susan Horvath, daughter of Arpad Horvath, the Londoner who was Wettlaufer’s only victim outside Woodstock.
“She killed my dad. Can you believe this? And she’s sitting there, no expression on her face.”
It was hardest to hear the facts about Wettlaufer’s premeditation, she said, noting the ex-nurse was online searching for information about jail before she confessed. Horvath said she wouldn’t wish such an experience on her worst enemy.
“It’s overwhelming, it’s sad, it’s heartbreaking. I think heartbreaking is the best word to use to describe it. I thought I was able to handle hearing it, and I couldn’t,” said Laura Jackson, a close family friend of Maurice “Moe” Granat.
Keeping the victims at the forefront of the case is important for Jackson and Horvath.
“Every time we say her name, it gives her power,” said Jackson. “That’s why we’re here standing to say Moe’s name, and Arpad Horvath’s name and the other victims. Keep their names in the news. They’re the ones that matter.”
Horvath said she made a special T-shirt she wore — it features a photo of her father, smiling and happy, alongside his wife and daughter — to keep him with her during the difficult moments.
“My father is over my heart, right here. That’s where he’s going to stay,” she said through tears.
WETTLAUFER'S MURDER VICTIMS
James Silcox, 84
Died Aug. 17, 2007, Woodstock
Married for more than 63 years to Agnes
Father of six, grandfather of 13, great-grandfather of eight
Served in Royal Canadian Army Service Corp for 4½ years in Italy, Holland and Belgium during Second World War
Worked for Standard Tube in Woodstock for more than 30 years
Longtime member of Old St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 55, Moose Lodge
Maurice Granat, 84
Died Dec. 23, 2007, Woodstock
Father of two, grandfather of five, great-grandfather of 11
Formerly of Tillsonburg
Gladys Millard, 87
Died Oct. 14, 2011, Woodstock
Born in New Glasgow, N.S.
Wife of late Henry Millard, who died in 1997
Mother of two, grandmother of five, great-grandmother of five
Longtime member of Knox Presbyterian Church, Woodstock and the Ladies’ Auxiliary, the Rose Rebekah Lodge
Helen Matheson, 95
Died Oct. 27, 2011, Woodstock
Formerly of Innerkip, Ontario
Wife of late Carl LeRoy Matheson, who died in 1998
Mother of two, grandmother of four, great-grandmother of four
Longtime active member of the Innerkip United Church United Church Women
Helen Young, 90
Died July 14, 2013, Woodstock
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland
Served in Royal Air Force in Second World War
War bride, came to Canada in 1949 after marrying Peter (Sandy) Young
Lived in Calgary, before moving to Woodstock in 1971
Active in Lions Club and Humane Society
Loved pets, had a pair of dachshunds the couple spoiled
Loved camping in Golden Lake, Ont., and travelling with husband, who died in 1988
Described as “a unique personality, a true sturdy Scottish lass, who did not hesitate to speak her mind.”
“She was a talkative woman. You could talk over and under her and not upset her or stop what she was saying,” her sister-in-law Anne Ledden remembered with a chuckle.
Maureen Pickering, 79
Died March 28, 2014, Woodstock
Lived for a long time in Tillsonburg
Married to late Hubert Pickering, who died in 2009
“After Hugh got Parkinson’s disease, Maureen was amazing at looking after him. She was so solid with whatever he was going through with his disease,” said a longtime family friend. “She was a very lovely person, always happy and outgoing.”
“She was a very outgoing person, a very pleasant lady who enjoyed living life,” said former neighbour Owen Cochrane.
Arpad Horvath, 75
Died Aug. 31, 2014, London
Emigrated to Canada in 1956
Husband of Lana Horvath
Father of two, grandfather of three
Adventurous man and international big-game hunter
Past-president of Hungarian Club of London
For 50 years owner and chief engineer of Central Tool and Die of London
“He was a good man. He was good to his family, good to his friends. People loved him. He was smart. He was an intelligent man,” said his son, Arpad Horvath.
Mary Zurawinski, 96
Died Nov. 7, 2011, Woodstock
Sandra Towler, 77, between November 2015 and March 2016 at Telfer Place nursing home in Paris.
Beverly Bertram, 68, in August 2016 at a private Oxford County residence.
Wayne Hedges, 57, in October 2008 at Caressant Care in Woodstock. He died Oct. 28, 2008.
Michael Priddle, 63, sometime in 2009 at Caressant Care. He died in December 2012.
Clotilde Adriano, 87, and her sister Albina Demedeiros, 90, both in September 2007, at Caressant Care. Adriano died on July 30, 2008 and Demedeiros died on Feb. 25, 2010.
Postmedia tweets from Thursday:
Sept. 16, 2016:
Registered nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, 49, of Woodstock, gives up her nursing licence and checks herself into the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Later that month, Toronto police contact Woodstock police about a possible homicide investigation.
Wettlaufer agrees to an unusual peace bond to remain in Woodstock under curfew, because there are police concerns she will “commit a personal injury offence.” One of her conditions is not to possess any drugs, including insulin.
Wettlaufer is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in deaths at two longterm care homes, from 2007 to 2014, in Woodstock and London. Police say the residents died “after they were administered a drug,” but aren’t specific.
News reports point to an expanded police probe that includes Paris, Brantford and Port Dover, after police say they don’t believe there are more homicide victims.
Wettlaufer’s first court appearance in Woodstock, made by video from a detention centre in Milton.
Jan. 13, 2017:
— Wettlaufer is brought to Woodstock where six more charges — four of attempted murder and two of aggravated assaults – are laid against her.
— Search warrants obtained by The London Free Press show police had been investigating the additional charges from the start and point to insulin as the drug believed used in the case.
Jan. 24, 2017:
Police exhume two bodies — one in London, another in Innerkip — of two alleged victims for forensic examination.
— The province orders Caressant Care in Woodstock, one of the homes where Wettlaufer worked, and where seven of the eight alleged murder victims lived, to halt all new admissions until it meets provincial standards.
— The move comes after the home was cited for infractions under Ontario’s longterm care law, including more than 40 “medication incidents.”
New information released in a redcacted search warrant obtained by The Free Press reveals that Wettlaufer was fired from Caressant Care “for failing to follow insulin protocols” and had a history of giving the wrong medications to patients. Her firing comes just days after the last suspicious death at Caressant.
Wettlaufer, in a route video court appearance, waives her right to a preliminary hearing, sending the case straight to trial.
First appearance, in person, before the higher court.
Enters guilty pleas to all 14 charges against her — eight of first-degree murder, four of attempted murder and two of aggravated assault.
Serial killer Elizabeth Wettlaufer stands in the prisoner's box Thursday in a court in Woodstock, Ont., pleading guilty before Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas to 16 charges involving senior citizens who were in her care, including eight counts of first-degree murder and four of attempted murder. Eight seniors at two nursing homes in Woodstock and London died between 2007 and 2014. (Charles Vincent/Special to The London Free Press/Postmedia News)