Wettlaufer murders difficult to detect, expert tells public inquiry


TORONTO — A professor who studies serial killers in the health-care profession has told a public inquiry that murders carried out by an Ontario nurse over several years were nearly impossible to detect.

Beatrice Crofts Yorker, with California State University Los Angeles, is testifying at the inquiry examining the conduct of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who confessed to killing eight patients with insulin overdoses and attempting to kill four others over nearly a decade.

Yorker says one way to catch serial killers in the health-care field is through examining death data, such as increases and clusters.

But she says there was no discernable pattern in Wettlaufer’s murders.

Yorker also says Wettlaufer’s case has broken new ground in understanding serial killers in the health-care profession.

She says no other serial killer in the health-care field has provided as much insight into such crimes as Wettlaufer has through her confession to police and an interview with inquiry lawyers.

“Nobody has given as much detail as she has,” Yorker said. “We have some information from family members, health-care workers about personalities and about issues, but when it comes to premeditation, she’s given more insight than any other health-care serial killer.”

Wettlaufer told police she killed her patients for various reasons, sometimes citing an internal “red surge” that would only abate after a murder.

The 51-year-old is currently serving a life sentence.

The public inquiry into her actions is exploring what failings allowed Wettlaufer’s crimes to take place, and what can be done to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

The Canadian Press