Thursday 8 December 2016

Face of nurse accused of killing eight old people

Charmaine Noronha in Ontario

Published 26/10/2016 | 02:30

Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer is led from court after the hearing
Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer is led from court after the hearing

A nurse has been charged with the murders of eight elderly people at nursing homes in Canada over a seven-year period.

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Woodstock Police chief William Renton said Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer (49) was charged with first-degree murder in the killings that took place in south-western Ontario between 2007 and 2014.

"The victims were administered a drug. We're not in a position at this time to comment further on the specifics of the drug, as it forms part of the evidence that is now before the courts," Ontario detective Dave Truax said.

Mr Truax would only say that a number of drugs were stored and accessible in the nursing homes where the suspect worked.

Ms Wettlaufer appeared in court yesterday and remained in custody. The investigation is ongoing and officials said more charges could be brought in future.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called the alleged murders by a nurse "extremely distressing and tragic".

Ms Wettlaufer, of Woodstock, was employed by Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Homes, which operates 15 facilities in small Ontario towns.

Police said seven victims died at a Caressant nursing home in Woodstock, a community of 37,000 people about halfway between London and Hamilton, Ontario.

She was also employed at the Meadow Park facility in London, where another victim died.

The 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).

Police said they believe Wettlaufer also worked at other long-term care facilities in the province but could not specify which ones, nor would they speak about a possible motive.

Records from the College of Nurses of Ontario show Wettlaufer was first registered as a nurse in August 1995, but resigned on September 30. She is no longer entitled to practice.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins called the charges "horrific allegations" and said the safety and security of those in long-term care homes were his top priority.

"No resident of long-term housing needs to be concerned about their safety as a result of this investigation," Mr Hoskins said.

Caressant, a private nursing home chain, confirmed in a statement yesterday that one of its former employees, a registered nurse who left the company two years ago, was the focus of a police probe.

Irish Independent

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