Elizabeth Wettlaufer: What we learned from her confession
Published Friday, June 2, 2017 1:13PM EDT
What: A two-and-a-half hour video of Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s confession to Ontario Provincial Police was released publicly in court for the first time this week. The former nurse pleaded guilty Thursday to all 14 charges against her, including the first-degree murder of eight seniors in her care in nursing homes in which she delivered lethal doses of insulin.
Seven of the murders happened at Caressant Care in Woodstock, Ont. and one at Meadow Park in London, Ont. She also pleaded guilty to attempting to kill two other patients at Caressant Care, one at Telfer Place in Paris, Ont. and another in a private home in Ingersoll, Ont., along with two charges of aggravated assault relating to injections delivered at Caressant Care.
Her plea makes her one of the worst serial killers in Canada’s history.
She will be sentenced later this month. She faces life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
When: The video was recorded in a small interview room in Woodstock on Oct. 5, 2016. Twenty days later, she was charged with eight counts of murder related to deaths between 2007 and 2014 originally considered to be from natural causes.
What she said: Wettlaufer said she understood that she was delivering what would amount to a lethal dose of insulin.
"I knew the difference between right and wrong, but I thought this was something God, or whoever, wanted me to do it," she said about the murder of Helen Young, her sixth victim, in 2013. "But I was starting at that point to doubt that it was God." She added she struggled between whether it was God or the devil instructing her to carry out the crimes.
She admitted that she chose some of her victims because she felt they were “mean” or challenging patients. But in other instances, she seemed to have chosen victims at random, having no motive except that the victims should be with God. She added in the case of one victim, Helen Matheson, she even fed her pie and ice cream before she gave her the insulin.
She talked about her heavy workload and her overall frustrations with her life as contributing factors for her actions. She also cites her divorce in 2007 as a large stress on her.
In some cases, Wettlaufer would comfort the families of the victims after the murders.
‘Cackling from the pit of hell’
Wettlaufer, 49, describes feeling a “red surge” she couldn’t control and that she would laugh after some of the injections – she describes it as a “cackling from the pit of hell.”
She does, at several times in the video, apologize to the victims’ families and says she feels guilt and shame. Wettlaufer said she initially did not want to tell police the victims’ names because she knew many families would have thought their loved one died relatively peacefully and she did not want to take that away from them.
Wettlaufer also reveals that she had told friends, a lawyer and her pastor about the fact she had killed patients but that “maybe they didn’t believe me. I don’t know. Maybe they just thought I was doing something that the patients wanted.” Many of the confessions were not reported.
She was arrested after she disclosed the killings to staff at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto while seeking treatment of substance abuse. She told police her breaking point came when she was told she would work with diabetic children. She was worried she would not be able to control herself, so she quit her job and went to CAMH.
When asked by the interviewing officer about her hope for the future, Wettlaufer said she hoped she can help others somehow, perhaps by teaching someone to read behind bars or permitting doctors to study her behaviour.
Video provides no answers, says victim’s friend
Police videos aren’t always entered into a court submission when an accused pleads guilty. Without a trial, that often leaves victims with unanswered questions. But Laura Jackson, a friend of Wettlaufer’s second victim Maurice Granat, says the video did not give her answers.
“We are all looking for the why and there is no why to this crime. This is a cold, calculating woman who chose her victims randomly depending on how she was feeling that day,” Jackson told CTV News Channel Friday.
“I don’t think we’ll ever get a why. We got all the reasons that she says but the randomness of it is just breathtaking.”