Victim's friends feared accused triple-killer was stalking her
Basil Borutski Court sketch by Greg Banning/Postmedia Network
OTTAWA - In the weeks leading up to what Crown prosecutors allege was a planned triple murder, several friends told Carol Culleton that Basil Borutski was stalking her.
Lorraine Wallace told the court Monday that several incidents involving Borutski — whom Culleton referred to first as "the handyman" and later as Basil — had put her co-worker Culleton and those in whom she confided on edge.
Wallace was testifying at Borutski's trial on three counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 22, 2015 slayings of Culleton, 66, Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48.
All three women were dead within the span of hours in what the Crown alleges was a revenge-fuelled murderous rampage that took Borutski from his home in Palmer Rapids to Culleton's cottage on Kamaniskeg Lake to Kuzyk's home in Wilno, then to Warmerdam's house near Cormac. Borutski was arrested by police that afternoon in a field near Kinburn.
Culleton was in the process of listing her cottage for sale, hoping to use the money from that sale to spruce up her home in North Gower, which she also intended to put on the market before moving into a seniors' apartment building in Osgoode, two of her former co-workers in payments at Agriculture Canada testified. She had retired just days before she was killed.
Basil Borutski is being tried on three counts of first-degree murder. The 59-year-old stands accused in the September 2015 killings of Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, and Carol Culleton, 66.
Culleton's former manager Carolyn Rowlee testified that Borutski approached Culleton and offered to do work at the cottage's shoreline out of boredom. There was no financial or romantic relationship between them, but as the weeks progressed, it appeared to Culleton and her friends that Borutski wanted more.
In the first week of September, Culleton told Wallace that Borutski had shown up on her driveway at her home in North Gower. She was stunned and asked how he knew where she lived. Wallace told the court that Culleton told her that Borutski said that she had told him her address. She hadn't and told him to leave. Wallace also testified that around the same time, Culleton told her that Borutski had frightened her so much that she packed up and left her cottage in the middle of the night. Culleton didn't give Wallace any specific details.
Culleton was growing frustrated, her co-workers said. She was routinely finding that Borutski was starting new projects at the cottage before finishing what was already underway, delaying Culleton's plans to list the cottage for sale and move on with her retirement plans.
Rowlee told the court that Culleton was kind and compassionate. "She would give anybody a second, third, fourth chance," Rowlee said.
Wallace and Rowlee both testified that they last saw Culleton on Sept. 18, the day of her retirement and their last day working together at Agriculture Canada before their office, downsizing for years, was permanently closed and payments for the department were centralized in New Brunswick. Both asked Culleton if she was OK to go back to the cottage alone to finish her plans for sale. She assured them that Borutski knew there was nothing between them and that she would be fine.
Wallace had planned to phone Culleton on Sept. 22 to discuss her final pay from work. There was no answer at Culleton's North Gower home, and no answer on her cellphone. Wallace started to text her. At 9:50 a.m. she texted asking Culleton to call her when Culleton got her messages. At 12:29 p.m., Wallace warned her friend that there was a shooter on the loose in her area. Around 7 p.m., she pleaded again for Culleton to call her. The next morning, Wallace just wanted to know where Culleton was.
"Did you ever hear back from her?" prosecutor Jeffery Richardson asked.
"No I did not," Wallace told the court.
Borutski, who is representing himself with a court-appointed amicus curiae, has not said a single word since the trial began.
The trial resumes Wednesday.