An Ontario nurse admitted in court that she used insulin to murder eight older Canadians in her care, according to media reports. Elizabeth Wetlaufer also pled guilty in Ontario Superior Court for injecting six others with insulin who did not die. Some of her victims had diabetes, while others did not.
Wetlaufer carried out these crimes undetected at two nursing facilities over a period of seven years, and only quit nursing when she was slated to begin working with children with Type 1 diabetes at a third health care facility. She told investigators she quit nursing because she was worried about what she might do to the children at the new job.
The murders occurred at facilities in the Ontario towns of Woodstock and London, where Wetlaufer often worked night shifts and had control of medications. She said that she sometimes chose victims with ailments which diminished their quality of life, but other times injected insulin into people she deemed to be problem patients. Wetlaufer told investigators she felt she sometimes was doing God’s work, but also suspected she might be doing the bidding of the devil. While Wetlaufer was twice treated for addiction during that time, she claims her drug use did not contribute to her impulse to murder. She has been diagnosed with several mental disorders, but said she was not hallucinating or psychotic when she killed.
According to a Toronto Star report, a 2006 study documenting 90 prosecutions of mass murders by healthcare professionals since 1970 found that injectable drugs, including insulin, were the weapon of choice by many of these killers. That’s partly because of the ease of access to the murder weapon and partly because a victim’s death may not come until after the killer has clocked out of a shift. Several of Wetlaufer’s victims died after she was off duty, according to a London Free Press report.
As Wetlaufer’s trial is coming to a close, many are demanding to know how it was that she was able to repeatedly get away with murder. In her confession, she said she told several people about her actions, including her pastor, but no one told the police. Seven of the eight killings took place at Caressant Care Nursing Home in Woodstock, where she had been terminated for failing to follow insulin protocol, according to a Woodstock Sentinel Review report. There is also some question as to whether the regulatory body which oversees nurses in Ontario followed proper protocol in reporting issues connected with Wetlaufer’s termination or her addiction treatment. According to a Toronto Sun report, several organizations which advocate for older Ontario residents are using the trial to highlight a pattern of inadequate oversight of long-term care facilities by the provincial government.
Wetlaufer is scheduled to be sentenced for her crimes in late June 2017.
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