Son fled as mother tried to escape gunman
The home of Nathalie Warmerdam was still under renovations at the time of her murder Tuesday morning. Warmerdam's home was located in Bonnechere Valley.
After an intruder armed with a long gun began chasing his mother through their Wilno-area house Tuesday, the 20-year-old son of Nathalie Warmerdam ran outside, hearing the sound of a single gunshot as he fled.
Adrian Warmerdam, the son of Nathalie, 48, was inside the farmhouse his mother once shared with her former boyfriend Basil Borutski the morning police allege he stormed in and began shooting. She is one of three women, all former girlfriends, allegedly killed by the 57-year-old Borutski.
Nathalie, 48, was in the dining room on her computer, checking emails and Facebook when she started motioning to her son who was in another room.
"I didn't know anything was wrong," Adrian told Postmedia on Thursday. By the time he realized something was awry, the gunman was inside the home and moving quickly.
"At first my mother was making a motion. Presumably she saw him first."
Adrian recognized that man as his mother's ex-boyfriend, who is now charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
"She ran through the house and he was chasing her and they ran past me," he said.
"I can't say if he saw me or if he was ignoring me. As soon as I realized who he was, I fled the home and on the way out I did hear a shot."
The young man phoned police and waited in the nearby bush until they arrived. He didn't see his mother's killer flee or know how the man got to the home.
The entire ordeal happened sometime between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Tuesday, cementing a short but deadly timeline that began just a few hours earlier in Palmer Rapids, where police believe Borutski left his home with a plan to kill his former lovers.
Nathalie Warmerdam's relationship with the man now accused of killing her and two others began in 2009 when she was working at a hospice in Renfrew. Basil Borutski was visiting his father in the hospice when the two met and began a relationship.
Her ex-husband Frank Warmerdam says it was a particularly vulnerable time for Nathalie -- to whom he was married for 16 years -- and their two children, Adrian and 18-year-old Valerie.
Nathalie had grown up in the Ottawa Valley and, in 2005, she and her then-husband moved back to the area to raise their children in the country.
Four years later, their marriage was ending.
"She was in a very fragile and emotional state," Frank said. "She and I were going through a separation at the time."
At the same time, Borutski was fighting his ex-wife in court, said Borutski's former landlord and friend Jim McClement. McClement said Warmerdam went to court to support Borutski during the divorce hearings and they dated for a while with Borutski eventually moving into the farmhome she shared with her children.
Adrian recalls those early days: "At first, we quite liked the guy. I liked the guy. I got along with him OK."
Frank Warmerdam called Borutski "very sympathetic" at the start of his relationship with Nathalie.
But things began to spiral downward.
"Things got worse and worse," Adrian said. "He was a heavy drinker." And eventually, Borutski was "drinking all the time" and incidents of alleged abuse began to increase.
During the last year that Borutski lived at the Foymount Road home, he and Adrian didn't even speak.
Genevieve Way, who worked with Nathalie at Co-operative Policing: Killaloe Area, a group dedicated to securing positive changes in policing, said Nathalie encouraged Borutski to seek counselling, but he refused.
"I have known him for seven years and his behaviour has escalated," Way said. "He has been in jail and he was offered supports, mental health support, free counselling, but he refused."
Borutski, she said, "blamed everyone else for the troubles in his life."
By all accounts, Warmerdam had stood by Borutski and had hoped to get him help.
In 2011, Warmerdam herself posted a $500 bond to secure Borutski's bail on charges that he had assaulted and threatened to kill his ex-wife.
A year later, Warmerdam was on the other end of Borutski's threats, and a justice of the peace banned him from the Township of Bonnechere Valley for two years, according to the Dec. 18, 2012, banishment order.
"It was an abusive relationship where it was hard for her even sometimes to realize the situation until friends kind of helped her to see it," her ex-husband said. "It was more or less a typical abuse pattern where it gets hard and it's difficult to understand what you're in the middle of until people finally bring you to your senses."
Borutski's banishment order was amended in 2013 to allow him to seek treatment for alcohol abuse in the township, according to court records. Charges relating to his ex-wife and Warmerdam were ultimately withdrawn by the Crown.
But for threatening to hurt Adrian and kill one of their pets, he was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail, plus probation.
It was important to Nathalie that her children were safe. The convictions were a turning point for her, her family said.
"They were afraid of him," Frank said. "Her and the kids."
Nathalie began wearing a mobile tracking and alarm device meant for survivors of domestic violence. When triggered by the wearer, the buzzer alerts a police dispatcher and provides the wearer's location. With the touch of a button, police are supposed to respond with lights and sirens.
She wore it specifically because she was afraid of Borutski, said Adrian, but she wasn't in the habit of wearing it when she was home. She mostly wore it when she was out in the community where she ran the risk of seeing him.
In December, the Citizen received estimates that about 150 trackers are in use across Ontario. Warmerdam's was one of them.
Her son doesn't know if she was wearing it on Tuesday.
While friend Genevieve May called her slain friend a "target," Warmerdam's son knew there was a risk to her safety, but he and his family didn't know how much they stood to lose.
"I never thought this would happen."
Nathalie knew that Borutski had been released from prison nine months ago. Court documents reveal a lengthy criminal involvement for domestic violence and a list of women who feared violence at the hands of a man they once loved.
Borutski had breached his probation conditions when he was arrested and later convicted of viciously attacking and choking another ex-girlfriend, Anastasia Kuzyk, on Dec. 30, 2013. An OPP search of his house during that investigation revealed that Borutski had a crossbow -- a violation of his court conditions not to own any weapons.
He was convicted on the firearms offence, along with assaulting and choking Kuzyk on the same night he burned her childhood toys, including an antique wooden rocking horse, in her fireplace as she tried to stop him, only to be choked and beaten. He was sentenced to 19 months in jail.
According to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Borutski was released from jail on Dec. 27, 2014. At the time of the killings he's accused of having committed, Borutski was on probation and subject to community supervision by order of the court that ran until Dec. 26, 2016.
The families of his two other alleged victims question why more wasn't done for the women they've now lost. And Nathalie Warmerdam's former husband is left with unanswered questions about the justice system.
"I feel like the police did a lot, but for such a long pattern of violence and other misbehaviour with many convictions, I'm a little disappointed that he spent relatively little time in jail," Frank Warmerdam said. "That after so many repeats over so many years, why would these not have turned into longer sentences? I'm disappointed with the court system."
With files from Gary Dimmock, Elizabeth Payne and Tyler Dawson