NS Killer’s Spouse Abuse Had Roots Going Back Generations, Investigation Finds

HALIFAX – Domestic violence spanned generations in the family of the man who carried out the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia, reveals a document released Monday by a public inquiry.

The summary produced by the commission that investigated the shooting describes disturbing episodes in the killer’s life ranging from his mistreatment as a child to his adult diagnosis as a “narcissistic personality” whose anger could flare in a moment.

On April 18 and 19, 2020, Gabriel Wortman went on a 13-hour rampage that began after he assaulted his spouse and then drove a replica police vehicle, killing 22 people with his illegally acquired weapons.

The public inquiry says he was “unsuccessful” in speaking with some members of the killer’s family, but investigators pieced together an account of the family’s violent past from police statements from four uncles, written documents and some interviews with acquaintances of the killer. the murderer’s family and wife. .

Alan Wortman, the killer’s uncle, told the RCMP that the killer’s paternal grandfather “was violent” towards his children, including the killer’s father, and that this pattern continued throughout the perpetrator’s upbringing.

In 2010, Neil Wortman, another of the killer’s uncles, wrote a letter to Jeff Samuelson, the killer’s biological brother, warning him of a profound “family dysfunction” in the couple who had given him up for adoption in the United States.

The letter said that the “violence extended at least two generations back, to the great-grandfather of the perpetrator,” the commission document says. The great-grandfather was described as a “tyrant who mistreated his family” and passed these traits on to his own son.

Multiple witnesses told the RCMP that the killer’s father, Paul Wortman, abused his wife and also abused his son during his childhood in Moncton, NB.

One of the killer’s uncles, Alan Wortman, told the RCMP that as a teenager he saw Gabriel Wortman’s father assault his wife at a Christmas dinner. “She said something about her and he hit her, knocked her down and kicked her and kicked her and kicked her,” he told police. “I told him, ‘You have to stop doing that. For.'”

Another uncle, Glynn Wortman, who cared for the killer when he was a young child, told police he once saw Evelyn Wortman being suffocated by her husband.

“The (perpetrator) had a horrible upbringing and that…made him a greedy, overbearing little bastard,” Glynn is reported to have told police after the shooting. “He (the killer’s father) never treated him like a little boy.”

Lisa Banfield, the killer’s wife, and several other witnesses have recalled that Gabriel Wortman told them that as a child his father handed him a loaded gun and asked him to shoot him. Banfield told police the perpetrator told him, “I came so close to shooting him.”

Other stories included accounts of young Gabriel Wortman witnessing gun threats to his mother, while Banfield also told police that the killer felt he couldn’t trust his own mother as she “snitched on him all the time.” knowing that I was going to get it.” beaten up or whatever.

The legacy of a dysfunctional relationship with his parents surfaced in Gabriel Wortman’s adult life, according to relatives and his spouse.

The summary includes Paul Wortman’s account to police of how during a vacation in Cuba his adult son attacked him during an argument about the killer’s childhood, and the son beat the father to the point where he “lost a little bit of his vision.” in one of his eyes.

Police investigated a threat to kill her parents in 2010 after Glynn Wortman called the RCMP to report the killer’s intentions. The summary says that Paul Wortman told investigating officers that his son had guns. He repeated the allegation during another investigation in 2011, when a police intelligence memo was circulating that suggested Gabriel Wortman posed a threat to police.

In the decade that followed, the killer decreased contact with his parents and rarely spoke to them, according to the summary.

According to medical records released in the document, a doctor referred Gabriel Wortman to psychiatrist Dr. Douglas Maynes in 2000, who saw him four times and diagnosed him as a “narcissistic personality.”

In June 2009, Dr. Cynthia Forbes, a Halifax-area family physician, wrote in her notes that the killer reported “drinking 12 beers a day, five days a week” but believed he could stop drinking. during the summer. months. She suggested that she see a psychologist, “but he wasn’t interested at the moment.”

According to medical records obtained by the investigation, the only medical treatment the killer received from June 2018 to January 2020 was seven visits with Dr. Forbes and a colleague for high blood pressure.

Wortman was shot and killed by police at a gas station in Enfield, NS on April 19, 2020, ending one of the worst mass murders in modern Canadian history.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 11, 2022.


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