The son of one of Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s eight murder victims learned Wednesday that Wettlaufer has been moved from prison to a secure psychiatric hospital in Montreal, which operates on an observation model using no weapons and with no traditional prison bars.
“Bars would be a nice touch. The sense that she is incarcerated, I think she should have that sense,” said Daniel Silcox, a resident of Pontypool, Ont.
Wettlaufer was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years in June 2017. She pleaded guilty to eight counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
James Silcox, an 84-year-old veteran, was Wettlaufer’s first murder victim back in 2007. His son Daniel says he had previously been updated by the Correctional Service of Canada on Wettlaufer’s movements, including some day trips out of the Kitchener, Ont., prison for medical appointments, and a transfer to a Quebec institution about eight months ago. While he was told the move was to a medical institution, CSC would not tell him specifically where she was living.
About four months ago, he reached out to CSC for an update, and to ask exactly where Wettlaufer was living, and says no one would tell him.
“I don’t understand why the government wraps itself in this shroud of secrecy. We should have a right to know where my father’s killer is. Where the killer of eight helpless, lonely seniors in the middle of the night were injected with insulin, six others were attacked. Fourteen in total. And we don’t know where she is? That’s not right.”
When news broke that eight-year-old Tori Stafford’s killer Terri-Lynne McClintic was transferred to an Indigenous healing lodge last week, Silcox renewed his push for more information. He says he was stonewalled repeatedly.
WATCH: Family and friends of Wettlaufer victims describe trauma caused by killings
Wednesday morning, Global News asked CSC why that happened.
In less than an hour after Global News’ request, Silcox received a phone call from CSC telling him Wettlaufer had been moved to Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montreal.
“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful,” Silcox said.
“We have a government that touts transparency. There’s no transparency here. The fact that I had to go to Global News – thank you so much Global – is absolutely disgraceful. I think they had more sympathy for Wettlaufer than they did for the group of families and I do not agree with that whatsoever.”
Victims have a right to know, advocate
The Correctional Service of Canada did not respond to any of Global News’ questions by deadline, including why the Silcox family wasn’t informed of Wettlaufer’s location.
“He definitely should have been informed,” said Darlene Ryan, spokesperson for victims’ support organization Association de Familles de Personnes Assassinées ou Disparues.
Ryan said a victims’ right to know where an offender is located is enshrined in the Victims’ Bill of Rights.
“It is still new and it isn’t very well enforced yet,” she said, adding the federal Victims of Crime Ombudsman position has been vacant for more than a year.
“Because of that, a lot of victims’ rights are falling through the cracks.”
The Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montreal’s mission is listed as “alleviating suffering; countering violence.”
There is a specific psychiatric unit in the hospital for women with federal sentences. It has 15 beds and women stay between a few weeks and a few months. According to the Institut’s website, “all patients” at the facility have access to a wide range of personal development programs such as music, art, theatre, sports and leisure and horticulture with a community garden. The education centre offers internet access, something that is not in place in traditional prisons.
The Institut did not respond to an interview request by deadline.
Politics of prisoner relocation
Wednesday in the House of Commons, a Conservative motion to reverse the decision to send Terri-Lynne McClintic to a healing lodge failed 200 to 82. Liberals and New Democrats voted against it.
The prime minister was not in the House of Commons for the vote. As it was taking place, he told reporters Conservatives criticized him for having called them “ambulance chasing politicians” about the McClintic issue, but “maybe they’re upset because it stings.”
WATCH: Killer nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer serving time at Quebec psychiatric hospital
There is a link between Tori Stafford and Wettlaufer’s victims. Wettlaufer committed most of her crimes at a nursing home in Stafford’s hometown of Woodstock, Ont.
Surveillance video that was widely circulated during the search for Stafford shows the eight-year-old walking with McClintic through the Caressant Care nursing home parking lot.
“If you looked out my father’s room at Caressant Care — he was only there a short time —you would see the sidewalk where Tori was abducted from, and it really hits home.”
WATCH: Father of Tori Stafford speaks out against relocation of Terri-Lynne McClintic
“It’s a double whammy for the city of Woodstock. It really hurts,” Wilcox said.
Conservative Dave MacKenzie is the MP for Oxford, a riding which includes Woodstock.
“While we don’t have all of the facts, the Liberal track record on standing up for victims of crime and their families is abysmal,” he told Global News.
Silcox said he is “conflicted” on whether Wettlaufer should be permitted to live outside a traditional prison, because he recognizes she needs counselling help. But he’s adamant McClintic should be taken out of the healing lodge. The difference for him is that his father “lived 84 good years,” while Stafford’s life was cut short.
“I think of it every day,” Silcox said of Wettlaufer’s crimes.
“It hurts me. But when I think of Tori Stafford, it rips my heart out.”
WATCH: The former nurse was convicted for killing eight patients. Now a public inquiry is looking into systematic changes at nursing homes to prevent similar crimes.