Letter to Culleton on eve of killings said, 'Talk to me, it's not too late'
The three women found murdered in Eastern Ontario on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. Nathalie Warmerdam, Carol Culleton and Anastasia Kuzyk
OTTAWA - In the days before Carol Culleton was killed, an admirer left handwritten notes around her Combermere cottage telling her to “be positive” as she enjoyed her retirement.
The day before she was strangled to death inside the cottage, a nine-page handwritten letter was sent to her home address in North Gower, where it lay unopened until the slain woman’s brother discovered it a week later in a stack of mail.
When Kevin Culleton arrived in town for his sister’s funeral, he told court the letter “popped out” when neighbours handed him the mail they’d been collecting.
“I looked at the address, it was Palmer Rapids. I knew the accused was from there,” Culleton testified, saying he opened the envelope and read the entire letter before turning it over to police.
“I knew it would be evidence,” he said.
Basil Borutski, in a police interview the morning after the Sept. 22, 2015 rampage, admitted to killing Culleton, 66, Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, but told police it was “not murder.”
Neighbours from Borutski’s Palmer Rapids social housing complex testified about encountering a “very angry” Borutski on the eve of the killings.
According to the Crown, Borutski had just returned home from Culleton’s cottage on Kamaniskeg Lake. on Sept. 21.
He told one neighbour he “caught his girlfriend cheating on him,” according to testimony Thursday from Kevin Matcheski, who lived across the hall from Borutski at 5967 Palmer Rd.
He complained to another neighbour about his relationship with Culleton, saying “…karma was gonna come back and get her.”
Those conversations took place about 12 hours before Borutski strangled Culleton to death, then killed Kuzyk and Warmerdam with a shotgun, according to the Crown’s timeline of the day of the killings.
“Carol, positive, positive, positive,” begins the letter to Culleton. The letter was entered into evidence, but the letter’s author was not identified in court Thursday.
“I think the world of you and I always have positive thoughts. I tried and I done my best to turn your cottage into a positive place for you.”
Court was shown crime scene photos from Culleton’s cottage at 670 Kamaniskeg Rd. as OPP forensic identification officer Const. Larry Hall guided the jury through photos of a dozen notes, handwritten on pieces of wood and placed deliberately around the property. One was found on a newly built deck. Another lay across a pair of rubber boots. Another was found near a neatly stacked pile of wood left in the fire pit.
“I tried to make everything as nice as possible to enjoy your retirement,” reads one note.
Several of the notes are addressed to “Jiggy.”
In his interview with police on the day after the killings, Borutski told a detective “Jiggy” was the affectionate nickname he had for Culleton.
Another note found at the property refers to Culleton as “a new friend karma brought to me.”
The letter sent to Culleton also makes several references to “karma,” as the author appears to attempt to justify making repairs on the woman’s cottage.
“Do you think (Culleton’s late husband) Bob would want his dream to rot and decay?”
The letter describes Culleton as a “hurt and confused angel,” while the author describes himself as “a loving, caring human being.”
“I am a good person,” the letter continues. “I am living in a world where society teaches us to be greedy, take for yourself, whatever you can, f— the other guy.”
The author urges Culleton to ignore the “bad wrong negative publicity gossip out there about me,” and asks her to “judge me on the real me.”
The author claims he “spent a year in jail for something I didn’t do,” and warns Culleton she had been “betrayed by my false friend.”
The letter ends ominously: “Talk to me, it’s not too late.”
The jury was shown the letter and envelope, bearing a postmark from Palmer Rapids on Sept. 21, 2015.
Court heard from a number of police and civilian witnesses Thursday, as each testified without objection or cross-examination from Borutski, who sat silently in the prisoner’s box defending himself on three counts of first-degree murder.
Local real estate agent Cathy Pitts testified about an appointment she’d had with Culleton, who had contacted her about selling the Kamaniskeg Lake cottage, on the day Culleton was killed. Pitts arrived to find the front door smashed, and found Culleton dead in the bedroom.
OPP identification Sgt. Jane Ramsay then testified about what else was found at the scene.
Police recovered a light-coloured Chrysler Cirrus sedan belonging to Shirl Roesler, another of Borutski’s neighbours from Palmer Rapids.
Court was shown surveillance footage of Borutski pulling out of his Palmer Rapids residence in Roesler’s car on the morning of the killings.
Inside the car’s console they found a $100 bill.
Court was shown a text message from Borutski to Roesler, sent hours after the killings, offering the cash and saying, “sorry… by (sic) friend.”
Police also found a wallet inside the car.
In the wallet, alongside several school photos of young children, were a debit card, two hospital cards, a health card, social insurance card and a firearms licence possession permit. Each piece of identification was in the name of Basil Joseph Borutski.
The trial resumes Friday.