TORONTO – A former nurse pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in the deaths of eight nursing home residents in one of the worst serial-killer cases in Canadian history.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer also pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
The 49-year-old, who appeared in a Woodstock, Ontario, courtroom, admitted to killing eight seniors and hurting six others in part because she said she felt angry with her career and her life’s responsibilities.
Wettlaufer acknowledged under questioning from the judge that she injected all 14 with insulin for no medical reason.
All the incidents allegedly occurred between 2007 and 2014 in three Ontario long-term care facilities where Wettlaufer worked as a registered nurse, and at a private home.
The prosecution read from an agreed statement of facts, saying that Wettlaufer told police she knew that “if your blood sugar goes low enough, you can die.” She also told police she had refrained from logging her use of insulin in order to avoid detection, court heard.
In at least one case, Wettlaufer was spurred to act by growing rage over her job and her life, which built up inside her until she felt an “urge to kill,” the prosecution told the court.
Wettlaufer deliberately injected James Silcox, an 84-year-old man with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, with insulin the night of Aug. 11. 2007, “hoping he would die,” the prosecution said.
“It was his time to go because of the way he acted,” the former nurse told police, according to the agreed statement of facts.
She also told investigators that afterwards, she felt, “like a pressure had been relieved from me, like pressure had been relieved from my emotions.”
Wettlaufer told police that dissatisfaction with her life led her to inject Clotilde Adriano, 87, with insulin, though Adriano survived.
The other victims were Maurice Granat, 84; Gladys Millard, 87; Helen Matheson, 95; Mary Zurawinski, 96; Helen Young, 90; Maureen Pickering, 79, and Arpad Horvath, 75.
The attempted murder victims have been identified as Wayne Hedges, 57, Michael Priddle, 63, Sandra Towler, 77, and Beverly Bertram, 68. Wettlaufer was also charged with aggravated assault against Adriano and 90-year-old Albina Demedeiros.
The police investigation into Wettlaufer began last September after Toronto police became aware of information she had given to a psychiatric hospital in Toronto that caused them concern.
Some family members of Wettlaufer’s victims broke down in the courtroom as Wettlaufer entered her pleas.
Friends and relatives of the seniors who died said earlier on Thursday that they were warned the hearing would reveal information that might be difficult for them to handle. Some, however, expressed relief that the case would come to a swift conclusion.
Andrea Silcox said before the court hearing that she was worried about what she would discover about her father’s last moments, but said she’d be grateful to avoid a lengthy trial.
“I will forgive her, I have to forgive her…my father would want that,” she said. “Forget? I’ll never forget what happened.”
Arpad Horvath Jr., whose father was also among Wettlaufer’s victims, said everyone who lost a loved one will have to live with the pain forever.
“She took away my best friend and my hero and I can’t forgive that,” he said.
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 was no longer a registered nurse.