What we know about the Woodstock nurse charged with killing 8 nursing home residents
Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer‘s online persona is in stark contrast to the picture police have painted of the 49-year-old Woodstock, Ont., nurse, who faces eight charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of former patients under her care.
Wettlaufer studied nursing at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., from 1992 to 1995, after receiving a bachelor’s degree in counselling from the London Baptist Bible College, according to her LinkedIn profile.
She was licensed as a nurse with the Ontario College of Nurses on Aug. 11, 1995, according to documents on the organization’s website, and resigned on Sept. 30 — the day after police launched their investigation.
The College said in a statement Wettlaufer is currently under investigation by their organization as well, adding they are cooperating with police.
Wettlaufer also appeared to be deeply religious and worked as a support worker with Christian Horizons, a religious organization in Woodstock that helps people with “exceptional needs” in countries around the world, from June 1996 to June 2007.
“We are shocked and saddened by these tragic deaths, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the Woodstock community,” Christian Horizons CEO Janet Noel-Annable said in a statement.
“I did not ask to be born but I did ask to be born again,” a Facebook post she shared on Jan. 14, 2015 read, which appeared to reference her deep-rooted Christian faith.
Wettlaufer joined the Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Homes in 2007, where seven of the eight patients were killed, and worked there for just under seven years until leaving in March 2014. She also worked briefly for the Meadow Park Nursing Home in London, Ont., in 2014, where one of the deaths occurred.
The privately run Caressant Care is comprised of 15 nursing homes across Ontario with just over 1,200 residents under its care.
The organization said in a statement they are “cooperating fully” with police, adding they “deeply regret the additional grief and stress this is imposing on the families involved.”
Ontario Provincial Police did not provide specific details on the deaths, but said a drug was administered to patients at two nursing homes in Woodstock and London, Ont. between 2007 and 2014.
“All I’m able to say at this time was that a drug was administered,” said OPP Det. Supt. Dave Truax during a press conference Tuesday morning.
“We’re confident at this time that all of the victims have been identified and families have been notified,” Woodstock police Chief William Renton added.
Families of the victims declined to comment after an Ontario Provincial Police news conference Tuesday, but one relative simply told Global News “it’s tough” in response to the allegations.
Daniel Silcox, the son of James Silcox, later emailed a brief statement to Global News that said his family is processing the news.
“We are still numb at the news of our father’s treatment while in the care of Caressant Care Nursing Home,” he said, adding that James, a father of six children, was 84 years old when he died in August 2007.
“He spent the entire [Second World War] in Europe. He could fix or build absolutely anything and had a killer sense of humour.”
Wettlaufer’s Facebook profile paints the picture of a colourful woman who enjoyed travelling, animals and spending time with family and friends.
“Skipped the work Chjristmas [sic] party. Played Scrabble with my best friend then came home instead,” she posted on Dec. 11, 2009.
“Just wasn’t in the mood to socialize with a bunch of people. No I am not the Grinch!”
When a friend posted that her dog had enjoyed spending time with Wettlaufer in April 2010, but had trouble settling down afterward, the nurse jokingly suggested giving him some Ativan to help.
“Nurses — we can’t fix stupid but we can sedate it!,” a photo she shared with friends emblazoned on a “Sedate It” T-shirt on Feb. 11.
But she appeared to take her work seriously, as evidenced in numerous Facebook posts about her job, and had a dry sense of humour that came through online.
“Another 12 hour shift tonight,” she wrote on May 1, 2010. “This trying to show that I am a team player is rough! Looking forward to a day off tomorrow.”
In July 2010, she spoke candidly about her desire to achieve more in her career.
“Just spent half an hour looking into becoming a nurse practitioner,” she wrote.
“Would entail some major lifestyle changes on my part to afford it. Now I need to do some meditating on how much I want this.”
By all accounts, Wettlaufer appeared to be a dedicated nurse who maintained a steady income in what is widely considered a challenging and often thankless profession.
“Me, a pediatric shift nurse. Who’d have predicted that?” she said on Nov. 13 of last year.
“23 patients with a gastric bug combined with a full moon made for a crazy night last night,” Wettlaufer wrote on Feb. 22.”And that is an understatemnt!!!!!! [sic]”
On Sept, 28, 2015, Wettlaufer said in a post that she had been battling substance abuse and had been “clean and sober” for a year.
A woman with the name Bethe Wettlaufer wrote poetry under the username “bettyweston” on AllPoetry.com, some of which dealt specifically with patient care.
“I love the finality, the resignation / the knowing this is their last home. / Yes, sometimes I feel angry / but mostly at the staff / the people exected (sic) to meet the aging needs,” she wrote in the October 2010 poem entitled Working happy.
“I want to see everyone happy, / everyone content / and when others who are paid to do so don’t, / well I boil over.”
In 2011, Wettlaufer also published a piece about murder, in which she described writing about a female serial killer as making her feel “powerful.”
“Blade traces a line / from navel to spine / grating on rib bones / slicing intestine. / Her knife sings a love song / to the splattering gore / slicing through breast bone / romancing some more,” it read.
One poem, entitled Serenity Now, was published just five days after one of the patients died.
“My body is still, my mind does not roam / for a change I am tranquil, peaceful, at rest / my heart is not beating out of its chest / and even though I could not truly believe / serenity now I have shortly achieved,” a section of it read.
She showed a softer side with friends and family online, made clear in a photo from 1976 she shared on Facebook in August that showed her goofing around with a relative during happier times, with a bow tied around her head like a present.
Wettlaufer also shared her favourite mustard pickle recipe of her grandmother’s that month, and photos from her teenage years picking potatoes in a field.
She often shared photos of cats and dogs, trips she took, recipes and spending time with her parents.
She joined a group focused on youth suicide prevention in Woodstock after several suicides in the community this year made headlines across the country.
And while her online persona may appear unremarkable, the allegations against her are anything but.
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AM980’s Andrew Lawton and Matthew Trevithick contributed to this report
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