With two Canadian serial killers in the news this week, it might seem like the country is overrun by mass murderers. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer plead guilty this week to first-degree murder in the deaths of eight nursing home residents under her care in Ontario. She admitted to injecting a total of 14 people with potentially lethal doses of insulin between 2007 and 2014.
She is currently awaiting sentencing for those crimes. However, a conviction for first-degree murder comes with a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Those eight murders and six attempted murders make Wettlaufer one of the worst serial killers in Canadian history.
The other Canadian serial killer making headlines this week was Karla Homolka. She was back in the news when the story came out that, although convicted in the murders of three young girls, Homolka was volunteering at her children’s elementary school. After the public outcry, the school issued a statement that no one with a criminal record would be allowed to volunteer in any capacity on school grounds.
It is highly unusual to have two different serial killers in the news in one week in Canada. While they make for popular plotlines in crime TV shows and movies, in reality multiple murderers are few and far between. Here’s a look back at some of the worst that this country has produced.
Canada’s worst serial killers
Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka – Ken and Barbie
Before graduating to murder, Paul Bernardo raped over a dozen women in Scarborough from 1987 -1990. It was only after he was eventually arrested for murder that Bernardo was identified as the Scarborough Rapist.
In the early 1990s, Bernardo along with his wife Karla Homolka raped and murdered at least three young women – including Homolka’s sister.
Bernardo was sentenced to life imprisonment, and declared a dangerous offender, meaning there is very little chance that he will ever be paroled.
Homolka testified against her husband in exchange for a deal. She served 12 years for manslaughter, and now lives in Montreal.
Allan Legere – The Monster of the Miramichi
Alan Legere is a serial killer and arsonist, also known as the Monster of the Miramichi, because he terrorized the residents of the Miramichi River valley of New Brunswick for several months in 1989.
At the time, Legere was already serving a life sentence for a brutal rape and murder, but he escaped from a hospital in Moncton. While on the run, he murdered four more people and burned their houses down. In the Miramachi region, gun and home security sales spiked. Halloween trick or treating was canceled that year. After one of the most massive manhunts in Canadian history, police recaptured Legere on November 19, 1989.
He was sent to The Ste-Anne-des-Plaines Institution, the country’s highest-security prison until 2015 – when he was transferred to the Edmonton Institution in Alberta.
Wayne Clifford Boden – The Vampire Killer
Wayne Clifford Boden was a serial killer and rapist who killed four women between 1969 and 1971. He earned the nickname “The Vampire Rapist” or “Vampire Killer” because he had the habit of biting the breasts of his victims. This eventually led to his conviction due to forensic odontological evidence that matched his teeth marks to the crime scene evidence. This was the first such conviction in North America, several years before Ted Bundy, another serial killer was also identified by teeth marks.
Boden was sentenced to four life sentences and remanded to the Kingston Penitentiary. He died in prison in 2006.
William Patrick Fyfe – The Handyman Killer
William Patrick Fyfe is a serial killer convicted of murdering five women in the Montreal area, and he claims to have killed four others.
Fyfe worked as a handyman to gain entrance to the homes of single women. He claims to have killed his first victim in 1979, when he was twenty-four years old. In 1999, he went on a killing spree, murdering four women. Fingerprints and DNA evidence from the crime scene of his final victim allowed the police to track him down.
He is currently serving a life sentence. Montreal police also suspect Fyfe of being the serial rapist commonly known as “The Plumber,” responsible for a string of violent rapes downtown Montreal in the 1980s.
Russell Maurice Johnson – The Bedroom Strangler
Russell Maurice Johnson is a rapist and serial killer who sexually assaulted and murdered at least seven women in the late 1970s in London and Guelph, Ontario. Known as the Bedroom Strangler, Russel would scale balconies up to fifteen stories to enter the bedrooms of sleeping women. He would often watch his victims sleep for hours before attacking them.
The first four victims were concluded to have died of natural causes. Their apartment doors were locked, and there were no obvious signs of a struggle. Eventually, as the attacks grew more violent, police tracked down Johnson.
He was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the murders of three women in 1978. Johnson is incarcerated at the Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene, Ontario. He has confessed to four more killings and 17 attacks, but has not been charged.
Michael Wayne McGray
Michael Wayne McGray was convicted of killing seven people, although he claims to have murdered 11 others, between 1984 and 1998. McGray murdered people across Canada including in Halifax, Saint John, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver as well as in Seattle.
While in prison in 2010, McGray committed another murder, strangling his cellmate. He is currently incarcerated in The Ste-Anne-des-Plaines Institution.
Gilbert Paul Jordan – The Boozing Barber
Gilbert Paul Jordan was a serial killer who is believed to have committed from eight to ten murders in Vancouver between 1965 and 1988. He was known as The Boozing Barber because he was a retired barber and was the first serial killer known to use alcohol as a murder weapon.
Jordan’s victims were women in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside. He would find women in bars, and buy them drinks, or pay them for sex and encourage them to drink with him. When they passed out, he would pour liquor down their throats. The resulting deaths went uninvestigated because they were reported as alcohol poisoning.
He is considered a serial killer because he was linked to the deaths of between eight and ten women, but he was only convicted in the manslaughter death of one woman in 1988. Jordan died in 2006.
Clifford Robert Olson, Jr.
Clifford Olson was a serial killer who confessed to murdering 11 children and young adults ranging from nine to 18 years old in the early 1980s. Because of the young age of his victims, and that there were so many of them over such a short span of time, Olson remains one of Canada’s most monstrous killers.
His killing spree ended when he was arrested trying to abduct two female hitchhikers. Olson was charged with eleven counts of first degree murder, to which he pled guilty. Because recovering the victims’ bodies from remote and isolated areas around B.C. would have been virtually impossible without cooperation, the RCMP struck the notorious ‘cash for corpse’ deal with Olson. Authorities agreed to pay $10,000 per body that Olson led them to in a trust fund for his wife and son. This caused public outrage, but a payment totalling $100,000 was made, and Olson led police to the bodies.
Olson was designated a ‘Dangerous Offender’ and died in prison in 2011.
Robert William “Willy” Pickton – The Pig Farm Killer
Port Coquitlam, B.C. pig farmer Robert Pickton is Canada’s most prolific serial killer. He has confessed to killing and butchering 49 women between 1983 and 2002. The Crown reported that Pickton told an undercover police officer that he wanted to kill another woman to make it an even 50, but that he was caught before he could, because he was “sloppy”.
He has been convicted in the killings of six women, and has been charged with the first-degree murder of 27. His victims were sex trade workers and drug addicts from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
In a search for DNA evidence and human remains, investigators excavated the pig farm at a cost of nearly $70 million. Pickton is currently serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.