Why Elizabeth Wettlaufer killed, and why she was able to kill for so long.

Canada’s Serial Killer Nurse Inquiry

By —— Bio and Archives--June 23, 2018

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Canada’s Serial Killer Nurse Inquiry
This month Ontario launched an inquiry of mass murderer Elizabeth Wettlaufer. As the CBC reported, “the inquiry won’t answer why Wettlaufer killed, but will instead investigate how she was able to keep killing for so long, and what needs to change to prevent future killings.” Early in her career, the clues were already emerging.

In 1995, at the Geraldton District Hospital, Wettlaufer stole the drug Ativan and was so stoned she toppled into a trash can. “Elizabeth Wettlaufer was fired from her first nursing job just months into her tenure,” Jonathan Sher noted in the London Free Press, “but the firing was kept hidden from future employers after the union that represents nurses struck a deal with the hospital that axed her for stealing and using medication.”


Total failure of oversight by unions, nursing home management and professional associations alike

Five days after the firing, the Ontario Nurses Association filed a grievance. As the inquiry revealed, “The hospital agreed to change the entry in her personnel file from a firing to a resignation due to medical reasons. The hospital also agreed to only state the latter if asked by prospective employers.” 

At the Caressant Care nursing home in Woodstock, Wettlaufer used insulin overdoses to kill World War II veteran James Silcox, Maurice Granat, Gladys Millard, Helen Matheson, Helen Young, Mary Zurawinski, and Maureen Pickering. The elderly victims all died a horrible, agonizing death.

While at Caressant Care, nurse Wettlaufer neglected patients breathing problems, forced patients to wait for pain medication, and made numerous “medication errors.” After numerous warnings, Caressant Care fired her,  and as she had in Geraldton, Wettlaufer filed a grievance over the termination.

Caressant Care cut her loose with a letter calling her a “good problem solver with strong communication skills,” and explained that her departure was to “pursue other opportunities.” Nurse Wettlaufer was quickly hired at Meadow Park in London, where she killed Arpad Horvath with an overdose of insulin, which the great Canadian Frederick Banting invented to save lives, not destroy them.

Wettlaufer also attempted to kill six other patients, one by slipping the insulin into a PICC line. None of this came to light, and would have remained secret if the nurse had not confessed at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. This represents a total failure of oversight by unions, nursing home management and professional associations alike.

She took eight lives but gets possibility of parole after 25 years

Relatives of Maureen Pickering were suspicious and requested an autopsy, but the coroner refused. That too allowed Wettlaufer to “keep killing for so long.” The nurse will not testify at the inquiry but in her October 2016 interview with police she clarified why she killed.

She blamed a “red surge” and wondered if the urge to kill came from God. So she must have mental problems and was therefore not responsible. But the nurse was aware of right and wrong, planned the killings carefully, and took steps to avoid detection. Those realities voided any claim to an insanity defense.

Nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer ascribed no value to any of the innocent victims in her care. She taunted them, took pleasure in their suffering, and feigned sympathy with their grieving relatives. This woman is depraved, not ill.  That’s why she killed.

She took eight lives but gets possibility of parole after 25 years. So any relative of the victims could believe she got off light. Maybe tougher penalties for mass murderers would help prevent “future killings.”

Meanwhile, some charged that Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne delayed the inquiry until after the 2018 election, which she lost. Even so, any victim’s relative could believe that politicians are partly to blame for the conditions that allowed Elizabeth Wettlaufer to “keep killing for so long.”


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Lloyd Billingsley -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Lethal Injections: Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer, Canada’s Serial Killer Nurse, and Our Time After a While: Reflections of a Borderline Baby Boomer, a memoir about growing up in Windsor, Ontario.

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