Investigators with a number of area police agencies say a Woodstock woman is facing eight counts of first degree murder in connection with the deaths of long term care patients.
The OPP announced Tuesday morning they’d charged a registered nurse, 49-year-old Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer (pictured at right), in connection with the case. She was taken into custody on Monday evening and has already made her first court appearance in Woodstock and has been remanded into custody.
Of the eight victims, one was a resident of the Meadow Park Long Term Care Home in London. The other seven individuals were residents at Caressant Care in Woodstock.
Investigators say Wettlaufer was an employee of the facilities in question.
During a media conference in Woodstock Tuesday morning, officers said their investigation began on September 29th, 2016, when the Woodstock Police Service received information that eight people had been murdered over a period of several years. Officers said they weren’t prepared to elaborate on how the information was brought to their attention.
The OPP was contacted and an investigation team began the work of probing the allegations. The London Police Service was also involved in the investigation.
VIDEO: OPP detective outlines timeline of multi-jurisdictional investigation into nursing home murders
Officers released the names of the victims on Tuesday morning, saying “they were administered drugs” but they couldn’t elaborate further. During the news conference, officials said they were unable to disclose the phase of care the victims were receiving, but they were all residents of the long term care facilities.
Officers say they believe they’ve identified all of the victims involved in the case and their families have been contacted.
The OPP has identified the victims as follows:
Name (Age) Facility Date of Death
James SILCOX (84) Caressant Care – Woodstock August 17, 2007
Maurice GRANAT (84) Caressant Care – Woodstock December 23, 2007
Gladys MILLARD (87) Caressant Care – Woodstock October 14, 2011
Helen MATHESON (95) Caressant Care – Woodstock October 27, 2011
Mary ZURAWINSKI (96) Caressant Care – Woodstock November 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 August 31, 2014
As for the motive for the alleged murders, officers say that evidence is now before the courts and they’re currently unable to comment further.
Susan, the daughter of Aprad Horwath, appeared on AM980’s Craig Needles Show on Tuesday, moments after the news conference came to an end.
“You don’t want to believe any of this until you get to this stage when you’re actually hearing it on the radio, and then you know that it’s real, and even then it’s hard to believe,” she said. “I wanted to talk and just for my dad so that people know what happened to him instead of putting it down as ‘oh he had a stroke’ or ‘oh the old age.”
Susan Horvath also noted she has suspicions her father was being abused before his death.
“I have one (piece of) advice to give to everybody, including you when your mom gets older or your dad and everybody resorts to these (long term care) homes, I have one advice for the whole world if they’re listening. Go by your gut intuition. I know at times you double check yourself and go ‘that’s ridiculous, why would I think something so stupid,’ and everybody’s ‘smiley smiley’ when you go in. But you know these people can’t tell you what happens after the families go, and at night time.”
Horwath immigrated to Canada from Hungary.
“He had a big heart, my father,” Susan said when asked to describe him as a person. “He enjoyed every day being in Canada. Opportunities he was given.”
“He was just a very good man.”
Asked when officers would have last seen a murder case of this magnitude, investigators said it likely would have been the infamous Bandidos Massacre in 2006.
More information to come.