TORONTO — A nurse has been charged with the murders of eight elderly people at nursing homes in southwestern Ontario over a seven-year period, police said Tuesday.

Woodstock Police Chief William Renton said Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, 49, was charged with first-degree murder in the killings that took place 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 Provincial Police detective Dave Truax said.

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

Police said they were first alerted to the deaths on Sept. 29 and arrested Wettlaufer on Monday. They said she appeared in court Tuesday morning and remained in custody. The investigation is ongoing and officials said more charges could be brought in the future. Police would not speak to a possible motive.

Police said they did not know whether Wettlaufer had a lawyer.

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, and one died at nearby facility where Wettlaufer also worked.

The victims were 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.

Horvath’s daughter, Susan Horvath, said she felt something was amiss before her father died.

“I’d seen my dad and the condition he was in and he had a lot of fear … and just things about him and everything I noticed on his body and stuff, I just had a feeling and I told Mom,” Horvath told a London, Ontario, radio station Tuesday. “And then when he passed on – and how he passed on – that’s when I knew: This is not right.”

Daniel Silcox, of Pontypool Ontario, said he found out about his father being among the alleged victims while listening to the radio Tuesday morning.

“We’re living my father’s death right now,” Silcox said. “It’s horrific.”

His father didn’t like living at the home, but the family otherwise had no suspicions that his death might have been a murder, Silcox said.

Caressant, a private nursing home chain, said Tuesday that its priority is to continue to provide for the needs of its residents as the investigation unfolds.


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