Bits and Bites on murder

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Is it possible to live untroubled in a troubled world?

Image: Photos of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam and Carol Culleton. Provided by the author.

“Anger or hatred is like a fisherman’s hook. It is important for us to ensure that we are not caught by it.” (Dalai Lama)

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French language novels. Visit her website to learn more

Image: Detail of photo of Alberte Villeuneuve-Sinclair

“How do we cope with senseless tragedy? How do we react to the unexpected slaughter of innocent people? As we scrutinize our beliefs in human nature, the human psyche and society itself, we have been confronted once more with terrorism, the homegrown kind.”

I had written these words at the start of a previous column where I had discussed the shooting rampage of James Eagan Holmes at the Century 16 movie premiere of the Batman film in Aurora, Colorado and the Anders Behring Brievik case in Norway when he went on a shooting rampage on Utoya Island near Oslo, Norway.

In both cases, the tragic events had been planned, weapons had been purchased, and the unthinkable had been played out. On Tuesday, September 22, tragedy hit closer to home as Basil Joseph Borutski went on a shooting rampage killing three women. Anastasia Kuzyk, a well-respected 36 year-old real-estate agent for Century 21 Neville Realty in Pembroke was gunned down at her home. Nathalie Warmerdam, a 48 year-old mother of two who was a healthcare professional and dedicated volunteer was later gunned down at her home near Wilno. Both women had been in relationships with Borutski. Anastasia had feared for her life the last time she had kicked him out after an argument.

A third woman, Carol Culleton, age 66, was later found dead at her home near Combermere. Newly retired, she too had dated Borutski and may have been his first victim. The three slayings had the OPP and Ottawa police on high alert prompting a lockdown of Stonecrest Public School once they received information that Borutski had been spotted in the area. The killer was still armed when he was arrested and police feared he had planned to later target a lawyer in Ottawa.

“We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender. (Rebecca Solnit in “Men Explain Things to Me”)

Image: Mugshots of Baisl Borutski.

Basil Borutski had a long history of violent behaviour dating back as far as his first relationship to Mary Ann Mask, his ex-wife, which began in 1982. This “on and off” relationship spanned 26 years and resulted in three separate charges of assault where he was able to walk away without being charged. His behaviour had gone from bad to worse in the past years, landing him in jail for assault. As Genevieve Way of COPKA, where Nathalie Warmerdam volunteered, told the Citizen, “He was just getting worse and worse and he didn’t get any help.” Furthermore, he had refused to sign the court order to stay away and not communicate with the victim.

Basil Borutski was obviously a man with a long history of violence, obsessive behaviour and serious emotional problems. The fact that he was also unemployed only added to the psychosis and caused an escalation of violence to which the intention of revenge became an ugly reality on 22 September. 

You really have to wonder why this man was never treated. Was he offered any psychological help? Could this tragedy have been prevented? Were all three women warned of impending danger? And why was he released in that same general area?  I agree with Carl Bromwich, chair of the community policing advisory community for five of the area townships when he said that Boruski should have had a mental-health assessment before he was released and that he should not have been released early from jail without proper supervision. And I fully agree with Mr. Bromwich that our justice system is far too lenient with repeat offenders.

There is no easy solution to violence in our society but having once lived through a difficult episode, I can tell you that caring individuals protected me and I am forever grateful for their courage and caring ways. We must be aware that nearly one woman in four will experience violence at the hands of a spouse or a boyfriend and we must involve men in finding solutions.

Men have an important role to play in sending out the message that real men do not hurt or abuse their partner.” (Ian Somerhalder – actor)

To conclude, I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to those who have lost a mother, a sister, a precious friend, neighbour or co-worker in this tragedy. I hope changes will be made so that our present systems can better protect women who live under the threat of violence. There is a lesson to be learned here; let it not be lost.