Ontario Provincial Police have laid six new charges against a former nurse accused of killing eight seniors in two southwestern Ontario long-term care homes.
The new charges were released by police half an hour before a scheduled in-court appearance by Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer at a Woodstock, Ont. court Friday morning.
Four of the new charges – for attempted murder – are linked to new alleged victims at the Caressant Care Home in Woodstock. The other two charges – for aggravated assault – involve patients from Telfer Place in Brant County and a private residence in Oxford County.
“It’s a very intense investigation. There’s a lot more questions than answers,” OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor told reporters outside the Woodstock courthouse on Friday. “We continue to receive tips from the public.”
Police say four of the six alleged victims have since died although their confirmed causes of death are not attributed to the accused.
The names of the alleged victims, their ages, and the dates of the alleged offences committed are as follows:
- Coltilde Adriano, 87, Caressant Care – Aggravated Assault – Woodstock, June-Dec., 2007 (deceased)
- Albina Demedeiros, 90, Caressant Care – Aggravated Assault – Woodstock, June-Dec., 2007 (deceased)
- Wayne Hedges, 57, Caressant Care – Attempted Murder – Woodstock, Sept.-Dec., 2008 (deceased)
- Michael Priddle, 63, Caressant Care – Attempted Murder – Woodstock, Jan., 2008-Dec., 2009 (deceased)
- Sandra Towler, 77, Telfer Place – Attempted Murder – Brant County, Sept., 2015
- Beverly Bertram, 68, Private Residence – Attempted Murder – Oxford County, Aug., 2016
The 49-year-old had initially been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of residents at nursing homes in Woodstock, Ont., and London, Ont. between 2007 and 2014.
Arpad Horvath Jr., whose father died while he was under the care of Wettlaufer in 2014, said the new charges are shocking.
“”I feel numb now. That’s just nuts,” he told reporters on Friday. “It’s going to get bigger, a lot bigger. There’s going to be years gone by but the end result hopefully is going to be a good one.”
Family and friends of the alleged victims present inside the courthouse for Wettlaufer’s brief appearance said the accused showed no remorse.
“This woman had no right to do what she did, to take their time and take time from us,” said Laura Jackson, a close friend of Maurice Granat who died at the Caressant Care home in Woodstock in 2007.
“She looks like a normal person, but unfortunately behind that normal person is a monster.”
Police have said their investigation into the alleged murders was launched in September last year. Wettlaufer was arrested in late October.
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.
Jackson said nursing homes need to be placed under greater scrutiny and not enough is being done to screen people working with the elderly.
“This is something that has systemically happened over a 10 year period in at least two nursing homes. Something needs to be done along the lines of screening, hiring practices, psychological interviews, something. Because working at a nursing home is not an easy job,” she said.
Wettlaufer is accused in seven deaths at the Caressant Care Long Term Care Home in Woodstock from 2007 to 2014 and an eighth death at Meadow Park in London in 2014.
The names of the alleged victims, their ages, and the dates of their deaths are as follows:
- James Silcox, 84, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Aug. 17, 2007
- Maurice Granat, 84, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Dec. 23, 2007
- Gladys Millard 87, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Oct. 14, 2011
- Helen Matheson, 95, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Oct. 27, 2011
- Mary Zurawinski, 96, Caressant Care – Woodstock, Nov. 7, 2011
- Helen Young,90, Caressant Care – Woodstock, July 14, 2013
- Maureen Pickering,79, Caressant Care – Woodstock, March 28, 2014
- Arpad Horvath, 75, Meadow Park – London, Aug. 31, 2014
Anyone with further information about this case is encouraged to contact the Woodstock Police Service at 1-519-537-2323 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
-With a file from Adam Miller and The Canadian Press