Basil Borutski, who killed three women in the Ottawa Valley, dies in prison

Borutski killed Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam in a bloody attack in Renfrew County on the morning of September 22, 2015.

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When Basil Borutski was sentenced to prison for the murder of three women in Renfrew County, the judge said his actions were so deplorable that Borutski would spend the rest of his life in prison.

On September 22, 2015, Borutski strangled Carol Culleton, 66, who was in her cabin near Combermere. She stole his car and drove to Wilno, where she shot 36-year-old Anastasia Kuzyk. He then drove to the home of 48-year-old Nathalie Warmerdam on Foymount Road and shot her. Borutski was arrested in a field in Kinburn by an Ottawa police tactical team.

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At the December 2017 sentencing, Judge Robert Maranger sentenced Borustki to consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole for 70 years. Borutski died at Millhaven Institution in Bath on March 28 “of apparent natural causes,” according to a news release from the Correctional Service of Canada.

“I think this is a difficult day for the people of Renfrew County and for those who knew this person and knew of his violence. There is no right or wrong way to feel about it,” said Kirsten Mercer, a feminist attorney who represented End Violence Against Women Renfrew County, a coalition of community groups, during the coroner’s inquest into the deaths in June 2022.

“There is support for those who find this difficult. “They should come closer.”

The June 2022 inquiry jury issued 86 recommendations, including asking the province to formally declare intimate partner violence (IPV) an epidemic.

The five jurors, three men and two women, also recommended that the federal government establish a Royal Commission to review the criminal justice system to make it more victim-centred and responsive to the root causes of crime, and also urged the federal government to explore adding the term “feminicide” to the Penal Code.

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Borutski had a long history of defying the justice system, according to testimony at his trial and in the investigation. He had been convicted of assaulting Kuzyk and Warmerdam and was stalking Culleton on the day of the murders. He did not attend a single partner abuse counseling session despite a court order in 2013. He was banned from driving, but frequently borrowed a neighbor’s car. Despite having a lifetime weapons ban, he had a firearms possession and acquisition license until the day he killed the three women.

The investigation examined many of the ways in which the system had failed to stop Borutski and protect his victims.

When the recommendations were published, those involved in the research considered the extensive list of recommendations a triumph. But when the parties met again in June 2023 to discuss progress, they were disappointed by the province’s responses.

HEAR: An unthinkable tragedy in the Ottawa Valley

The province rejected the idea of ​​formally declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic, arguing that the term “epidemic” is used for the spread of a disease, specifically an outbreak of infection that spreads quickly and affects many people in a given area. or population at the same time.

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Mercer notes that despite the province’s refusal to declare an epidemic, there has been progress at the local level. Nearly 100 municipalities, including Ottawa, have declared gender-based violence an epidemic. Ottawa city council passed its motion on International Women’s Day 2023. Renfrew and Lanark counties have also declared gender-based violence an epidemic.

“It has continued to gain strength. She has been the true source of hope,” she said. “Ultimately, the most significant changes are local. “That’s where the survivors live.”

The federal government has also published a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, and the federal and provincial governments have signed bilateral agreements. “We think that will unlock some resources,” Mercer said.

At the same time, advocates have noted that there are still an alarming number of femicides. During the height of the pandemic, researchers noted that a “shadow pandemic” of violence against women and girls had occurred around the world.

According to a November 2023 report from the Interval and Transitional Home Association of Ontario, which tracks violent deaths of women and their families through media reports, 62 women and children had been murdered in the previous 52 weeks. In that period, 93 charges had been filed against 57 men accused in connection with these femicides, while another 14 cases were considered feminicide-suicide.

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“I don’t think all those people who were horrified by the femicides of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam will wake up tomorrow feeling that true justice has been done and that they can rest. “We are a long way from that,” Mercer said.

The criminal justice system did what it was designed to do. But that’s not how survivors see justice, he said. Justice will not be served until we do everything in our power to end gender-based violence, he said.

“That is the way we will honor the women he killed, and only that kind of change will bring true justice for them, for their families and for all those who live with violence.”

With files from Aedan Helmer and Marlo Glass

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