TORONTO – The Canadian Press has learned that a former Ontario nurse accused of killing eight seniors in her care is expected to plead guilty to first-degree murder charges in their deaths at a court appearance on Thursday.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer currently faces a total of 14 charges, including eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
Police have alleged those crimes involved the use of certain drugs and took place over the last decade in three Ontario long-term care facilities where Wettlaufer worked as a registered nurse, and at a private home.
A source close to the case tells The Canadian Press that Wettlaufer is scheduled to plead guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in a Woodstock, Ont., court on Thursday.
The source says an agreed statement of facts and a video of Wettlaufer confessing is expected to be filed in court.
Wettlaufer’s defence lawyer did not respond to requests for comment on the expected development.
A meeting organized by the crown attorney’s office was held at the Woodstock courthouse Tuesday evening for family and friends of the victims.
Laura Jackson, a friend of Maurice ‘Moe’ Granat who died in 2007, told reporters after the meeting that they were given information on Thursday’s court appearance. She said she has a feeling of anticipation.
“Hopefully this will come to an end that makes some kind of sense out of justice,” Jackson said.
“We are here to stand for the victims. I’m here to stand for my friend Moe, and that’s the name that is most important – the victims’ names, not her’s.”
A spokeswoman with Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General said “significant developments” are expected in the case on Thursday, but did not provide further details.
Sgt. Dave Rektor of the Ontario Provincial Police, one of the forces involved in the multi-jurisdictional investigation, declined comment.
The police investigation into Wettlaufer, 49, began last September after Toronto police became aware of information she had given to a psychiatric hospital in Toronto that caused them concern, a police source has told The Canadian Press.
In October, Wettlaufer was charged in the deaths of eight residents at nursing homes in Woodstock and London, Ont. In those cases, police alleged Wettlaufer used drugs to kill the seniors while she worked at the facilities between 2007 and 2014.
The alleged murder victims have been identified as James Silcox, 84, Maurice Granat, 84, Gladys Millard, 87, Helen Matheson, 95, Mary Zurawinski, 96, Helen Young, 90, Maureen Pickering, 79, and Arpad Horvath, 75.
In January, Wettlaufer faced six additional charges related to seniors in her care. Court documents allege Wettlaufer injected those six alleged victims with insulin.
The alleged attempted murder victims have been identified as Wayne Hedges, 57, Michael Priddle, 63, Sandra Towler, 77, and Beverly Bertram, 68. Wettlaufer is also charged with aggravated assault against 87-year-old Clotilde Adriano and 90-year-old Albina Demedeiros.
Redacted court documents released in March – which were filed by police in an application to obtain records – have indicated Wettlaufer was fired in 2014 from a nursing home in Woodstock, where some of her alleged victims lived, after an alleged incident in which she incorrectly and overly medicated a resident who “experienced distress” as a result.
In a letter of termination cited in the documents, the Caressant Care nursing home said the alleged incident was part of a “pattern of behaviours that are placing residents at risk.”
The home’s director of nursing also told police Wettlaufer was dismissed for how she handled insulin, the documents show.
Records from the College of Nurses of Ontario show Wettlaufer was first registered as a nurse in August 1995 but resigned Sept. 30, 2016, and is no longer a registered nurse.
With files from Nick Westoll