Between 2007 and 2014, nursing homes within the Woodstock, Ontario-area began to see a sharp increase in unexpected patient deaths. It wasn’t until 2016 that police would launch an investigation and discover that the suspect behind at least eight of these mysterious deaths may have been one of the very people who were in charge of caring for them.
James Silcox would be named as the first victim. On August 17, 2007, Silcox was unexpectedly pronounced dead of a heart attack. Silcox’s family was suspicious about the circumstances surrounding his death, but were ultimately denied any form of autopsy. It wasn’t until they heard on the radio that a nurse formerly employed at the Caressant Care long-term care facility had been arrested that they learned that Silcox may have been her first victim.
According to Silcox’s daughter, her father was a wonderful man, but was known to be a troublesome patient. He despised the fact that he was sent to the nursing home, preferring to be at his home with his wife of more than 60-years instead. His daughter says she has little doubt that her father gave the nurse a hard time and may have been the motivation behind slipping the man an unidentified drug.
The former nurse at Caressant Care has been identified as Elizabeth Wettlaufer. Silcox may have been her first alleged victim, but he certainly wouldn’t be her last.
Also in 2007, another patient under her care named Maurice “Moe” Granat was unexpectedly pronounced dead. Little is known about the circumstances surrounding Granat’s death but, like Silcox, it is believed that he was also slipped an unidentified drug.
Like many serial killers, Wettlaufer went through a “cooling off period.” No other unexplained deaths occurred on her watch until 2011. In October, it’s alleged that Wettlaufer killed two more patients – Gladys Millard and Helen Matheson. Like the victims who had come before them, it is believed that both patients were slipped an unidentified drug, possibly insulin according to CTV News.
Mary Zurawinski would make the third victim in November of 2011. All three deaths occurred approximately two weeks apart.
Helen Young would make Wettlaufer’s only alleged victim in 2013. According to her obituary, Young and her husband enjoyed traveling. After her husband passed away in 1988 “Helen continued to travel on her own. Unfortunately health issues in recent years curtailed both her travelling and shopping adventures.” She was described as “a unique personality, a true sturdy Scottish lass, who did not hesitate to speak her mind on any and all subjects.”
Wettlaufer would strike again the following year, making Maureen Pickering her last known victim from Caressant Care.
After March of 2014, Wettlaufer left Caressant Care in order to start working at another retirement home called Meadow Park. Arpad Horvath would be Wettlaufer’s only known victim from the facility, but police are not ruling out that there could be more.
Horvath’s daughter Susan said she suspected that something strange was going on in the nursing home prior to her father’s death. She told Canada’s CTV News that whenever she went to visit her father she would find him covered in bruises, feces would be under his nails, and he smelled of his own excrement. When he suddenly died on August 31st, 2014, his family was told that his cause of death was a stroke. No one suspected that he could have been murdered.
Police were able to trace the deaths to Wettlaufer after they received an anonymous tip. Police placed the former nurse under arrest and she later confessed to the murders of the eight patients under her care. If found guilty Wettlaufer will rank among one of the most notorious serial killers in Canadian history.