Basil Borutski victim Nathalie Warmerdam never reached panic alarm
Sketch by Greg Banning: The triple murder trial of Basil Borutski began in Ottawa Oct. 2. The trial was expected to continue into the New Year, but wrapped up much quicker than initially anticipated. The judge will instruct the jury Wednesday.
OTTAWA – Forensic investigators searching the scene of Nathalie Warmerdam's slaying identified two items of interest in her bedroom, though there was evidence she never made it that far.
OPP Const. Andrew Doherty testified Monday police found a “domestic violence panic alarm” on her bed, right next to her pillow.
Under her bed, still in its carrying case, was a shotgun.
Warmerdam's body was found at the base of the stairs, still wearing her housecoat, her half-eaten breakfast on the dining room table next to her open laptop.
A pair of broken reading glasses was found nearby. A spent Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shell lay near a doorway. The buckshot had struck her in the neck.
On Monday, Warmderdam's daughter, Valerie Warmerdam, seated only metres from the man accused of killing her mother, was briefly ushered from the courtroom gallery while the jury was shown graphic crime scene photos from inside the Warmerdam farmhouse.
In earlier testimony, her son Adrian Warmerdam told court he saw “Basil” storm into the house on the morning of Sept. 22, 2015 with a shotgun levelled at his mother as she ran screaming through the house. He heard a single shot as he ran and lay in the woods waiting for police.
Court had already heard of jail time Basil Borutski served for prior domestic criminal charges in his relationship with Warmerdam, where he was charged in 2012 with threatening her son Adrian; he assaulted Anastasia Kuzyk in 2014 and was released from jail nine months before the killings.
Borutski, 60, has remained silent in the prisoner’s box, defending himself on three counts of first-degree murder. He confessed in a police interview the morning after the rampage to beating and strangling Carol Culleton, 66, to death before killing Kuzyk, 36, then Warmerdam, 48, with a shotgun.
Crown prosecutors Jeffery Richardson and Julie Scott have so far entered evidence from each of the three homicide scenes, with numerous police, forensic and community witnesses — and with only periodic cross-examination from court-appointed amicus curiae James Foord, and no participation from Borutski — through 13 days of testimony.
The Crown then presented the final scene in its case against Borutski with dramatic footage of his arrest in a Kinburn field by an Ottawa police tactical team, a bird’s-eye view of the takedown recorded as a police helicopter and Cessna airplane circled overhead.
But before Borutski was arrested that afternoon, Const. Dan Thompson testified Monday, tactical officers first had to clear the bush of a group of schoolchildren, out on a field trip from nearby Stonecrest Elementary School.
Thompson told the jury the tactical unit was first alerted to the Renfrew County homicides just after noon, and was originally tasked with guarding an address on Metcalfe Street.
There were fears the suspect was headed to Ottawa and Thompson said there was concern “the individual was going to access someone on Metcalfe Street and cause some harm.”
Word came minutes later that police had tracked Borutski to his family hunt camp in rural west Ottawa, and the tactical team was soon speeding in an unmarked police pickup truck to the intersection of Becks Road and Kinburn Side Road, where the suspect had been spotted in a field.
“I knew we were going up against a potentially dangerous person,” said Thompson as tactical team members donned extra body armour and prepared their C8 carbines.
Thompson was first deployed as a sniper until attention turned to the elementary school several hundred metres away.
“The concern was there could be more potential victims,” said Thompson, who was then deployed as a “blocking force, so no one could bring any violence to the school.”
Once on the grounds of Stonecrest, police learned of a group of young schoolchildren and teachers “checking out plants” in the bush behind the school — near the scene of the eventual police takedown.
Two officers found the school group and escorted them back inside the school, which was already under lockdown.
Shortly after 2 p.m., the police helicopter spotted Borutski standing in an adjoining field and the tactical squad moved in, trekking through the brush until it spotted the suspect about 250 metres away.
Two other officers flanked Borutski in a formation Thompson called an “L-ambush” and began shouting instructions over the noise of the helicopter, waving the aircraft off to a higher altitude.
As he got closer, Thompson described the white male with a nearly shaved head and goatee fiddling with a plastic bag and taking swigs from a bottle, “regardless of the commands we were giving him.”
Officers are heard on the overhead video exchanging information with an OPP negotiator, who is texting police instructions to the suspect’s phone. Court had earlier heard portions of that text exchange from Borutski’s phone, which was seized during the arrest.
“Don’t move they will shoot you,” a contact named “Bunker” texts to Borutski.
Borutski replies: “The guilty have paid ... justice finally ... I’m tired.”
Now in “close contact” distance, Thompson said, or about the same distance he was from Borutski in court Monday, the officer slung his rifle and cuffed the suspect.
“Do you wanna know where the gun is?” Thompson recalled Borutski asking.
He followed Borutski’s directions to a bush where a note was impaled on a tree branch, reading: “I have no gun. Don’t hurt me. I give up.”
A shotgun and a bag of ammunition lay in the grass.