C.E. Miller alerts us to the case of Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, a long-term care facility nurse from Woodstock, Ontario, accused of murdering 8 elder facility residents starting in 2007. She is accused of killing them by overdosing them on “a drug” that has not yet been named in the news.
Reminder of Charles Cullen
I can’t help be reminded of American nurse and serial killer Charles Cullen, the subject of the non-fiction book, “The Good Nurse”. The book documents how Cullen admitted to killing hundreds of ICU patients over many years at 9 different US health care facilities by giving them overdoses of the drug digoxin.
In both cases, investigators are left asking: What is the motive for all these murders? Especially by a caregiver – a nurse?
What is the Typical MSbP Murder Motive?
Let’s examine the “motive” for any murder of an MSbP victim by her perpetrator. I put “motive” in quotes, because the MSbP perpetrator’s typical goal is NOT to murder the victim, but to victimize them by controlling the public perception of the victim’s health or illness. The strategies used by the perpetrator to create these public perceptions include:
- creating new illnesses in the victim while simultaneously announcing that these illnesses as having a mysterious etiology,
- falsifying that the victim has illnesses that she doesn’t, and
- preventing the victim from getting treatment for real illnesses she has.
Because MSbP perpetrators need their victims to be alive in order to create such perceptions of their victim’s health or illness, typical MSbP perpetrators do not want to actually kill their victims. Death of MSbP victims is usually a
result of miscalculation on the perpetrator’s part that results in “overdoing it”. This is well-illustrated in the Lacey Spears case, where she repeatedly poisoned her baby son with salt presumably to instigate medical intervention. She apparently used too much salt at one point and killed him, and was subsequently convicted of murder.
MSbP and the Nurse Murderer Motive
Both nurse murderers targeted people in a population already at a heightened risk of death: patients in the ICU, and nursing home residents. By causing death using medicine, both murderers seemed to be creating a new illness or symptom of mysterious etiology (strategy 1). Further, when questioned, they likely appealed to the fact that the purported murder victims were already at high risk of death, which speaks to strategy 2. In fact, choosing patients from a high mortality risk pool as murder victims was a strategy that probably delayed their identification.
I think it is possible that there is an MSbP motive, in that these nurses wanted to control the perception of health of these patients, only “death” was just an illness or symptom to them, not a final destination. After all, they worked with a population whose members died from time to time, so it may have been seen these occasional deaths as a “symptom” seen in their populations.
How Can we Know if MSbP was Part of the Motive?
One problem is that to figure out if someone is doing MSbP behavior, it is most helpful to figure out if they’ve been exposed to this behavior by being in an MSbP family. Unfortunately, this information usually is not gathered and reported because of the lack of awareness about MSbP families.
Some scientific papers look into whether the perpetrator was “abused” or not, but they do not look to see if the perpetrator was a victim of specifically MSbP behavior. I strongly believe that MSbP behavior is learned much more often than it arises spontaneously. But without this line of inquiry by reporters and scientists, readers cannot tell if these nurse murderers may have “learned” this behavior from their families.
In “The Good Nurse”, the author does report that apparently, Charles had a difficult family or childhood, but no details are given. So far, nothing is in the news about the background of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, but admittedly, the story is just breaking, so we may hear more.
Want to learn about a nurse who was a victim (not a perpetrator) of MSbP?
Read this touching, articulate, and scientific report from an adult nurse about her experiences surviving an MSbP family.