Timeline: From 1982 to 2015, a history of Basil Borutski
Borutski’s 12-gauge shotgun, found following his arrest in a Kinburn field.
Basil Joseph Borutski, born October, 17, 1957
On Friday, the gruesome triple-murder trial of Basil Borutski came to a close, with the 60-year-old found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. The five women and six men of the jury believed the Crown’s contention Borutski had his mind set on murder as he carried out the Sept. 22, 2015 rampage through Renfrew County that left Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam dead.
Here’s how the saga unfolded.
1982 – 2008 – Basil Borutski meets and marries Mary Ann Mask. They live in Round Lake Centre, Ont., and he works as a millwright with Atomic Energy until a back injury in a car crash puts him on disability. They raised three daughters during a tumultuous 26-year relationship, with Borutski acquitted of domestic criminal charges in 1985 and 1994. Domestic assault charges in 2008 against Borutski are eventually withdrawn in court on a peace bond as the marriage dissolves. Mask told a judge during 2011 divorce proceedings that Borutski “destroyed her spirit by relentless threats and abuse.” One daughter told a judge the violence included hair-pulling, slapping and an attempt to push Mask out of a moving vehicle. Another daughter said Borutski repeatedly threatened to burn down the family home, which did burn to the ground, though no charges were laid.
Borutski claimed he was the innocent victim of false allegations by a vindictive wife, and produced a contract (which Mask testified she was coerced into signing) giving Borutski full custody of the children and control of Mask’s finances. The letter she signed, which was later discarded by the judge, stated: “I have made false statements about him … I have destroyed the children’s lives unknowingly.” Mask told court she believed Borutski was stalking her during their separation. On the day of the Sept. 22, 2015 killings, Mask was called by the Ontario Provincial Police and told to get to a safe place.
Dec. 31, 2010 – Borutski is charged after a roadside stop on New Year’s Eve. He later accused police of “rigging” the breathalyzer, and years later in his police confession the morning after the murders, he cited the incident as another in a long line of unfair treatment by police. He claimed police targeted him over a criminal record “that shouldn’t have existed,” and believed himself to be the victim of a longstanding harassment campaign by the OPP.
2011-2012 – Borutski meets Nathalie Warmerdam, a hospice nurse for his ailing father, and he moves into the farmhouse on Foymount Road with Warmerdam, herself divorced, and her two children. Warmerdam initially believes Borutski and advocates for him during his divorce proceedings. Courts eventually side with his ex-wife, ordering Borutski to pay Mask a $92,000 settlement.
July 27, 2012 – The relationship with Warmerdam ends with Borutski arrested and charged with threatening to strangle Warmerdam’s son Adrian, threatening to kill a family animal and mischief to property while living at the farmhouse.
Jan. 8, 2013 – Borutski is released with a two-year probation order and a 10-year weapons ban, after serving fewer than 30 days in jail.
2013 – Living alone in a farmhouse next to a scrapyard, Borutski finds a shotgun under the floorboards of an old motor home, and collects some half-rusted shells from old cars and pickups. He keeps the gun and salvaged ammunition in a garbage bag stashed in a bush along the roadside.
Borutski meets Carol Culleton, recently-widowed, at the Wilno Tavern and they begin a casual relationship that summer. Culleton lives in North Gower but maintains a summer cottage outside Combermere on Lake Kamaniskeg.
By winter, Borutski is spending time at the Wilno home of Anastasia Kuzyk, a server at the Wilno Tavern and real estate agent. He later claims in a police interrogation he and Kuzyk had no romantic relationship, although she told court they were together. He says he thought of her “like a daughter.” He claims in the same interview all three women knew each other. “They’re all connected.”
Dec. 30, 2013 – Borutski is arrested and charged after burning Kuzyk’s childhood heirlooms, including an old rocking horse, while beating and choking her in a rage. Kuzyk would later tell the investigating officer, “I honestly thought he was going to kill me. I could see the switch go off in his eyes.” He was later convicted of overcoming resistance by attempting to choke, suffocate or strangle, assault and mischief under $5,000.
Dec. 27, 2014 – Borutski is released after serving 575 days in jail, again bound by a two-year probation order with a 10-year weapons ban extended to a lifetime ban. He refuses to sign a court order barring him from contacting his victim, Kuzyk, and fails to attend a single session of court-ordered counselling for partner abuse and domestic violence.
Spring 2015 – Borutski moves into the Renfrew County social housing complex at 5967 Palmer Rd. in Palmer Rapids.
Summer 2015 – Borutski meets Culleton at the Wilno Tavern and attempts to rekindle their relationship, offering to do odd jobs around her cottage. Culleton’s friends warn her of “red flags.” He begins doing unwanted work on the cottage, building a deck without asking, and showing up unexpectedly by car or boat. He once drives two hours to Culleton’s North Gower home after lifting the address from a Christmas card, where he greets Culleton in her driveway, uninvited and unwanted. One friend warns her, “Carol, you’ve got a stalker.”
Over the Labour Day weekend, Borutski rips up a flower bed in anger after Culleton sits on another man’s knee during a late night get-together at the cottage. Borutski visits the man’s house later and speaks about his feelings for Culleton, and speaks at length about both Kuzyk and Warmerdam.
Sept. 8, 2015 – Culleton breaks off the relationship in a late-night phone call, sparking an hours-long text message tirade. “You have ended our friendship,” Borutski begins, ignoring Culleton’s pleas to “please stop” as the ranting texts and phone calls continue for several days. She shows the message exchange to her increasingly worried friends, who urge her to contact police.
Sept. 14, 2015 – Borutski attends his final session with probation officer Caroline Royer, who recalled it like any other appointment, with Borutski complaining of his financial, housing and transportation woes. He was barred from driving, though court heard he often borrowed a car from a neighbour, as often as 10 times a week.
Borutski, who had yet to attend a single session of partner abuse counselling despite a 2013 court order, had recently been referred to a mental health crisis management worker. “It was like my head was going to explode,” he later recalled. The Friday following the killings, a handwritten letter from Borutski is delivered to Royer’s Pembroke office: “Judge not lest ye be judged. Now ye will be judged by me,” the letter reads. “I’m getting out and I’m taking as many that have abused me as possible with me. JUSTICE.”
Sept. 20, 2015 – Culleton, having just celebrated her retirement that weekend, tells Borutski by text message on a Sunday morning: “My friend and I are back together. Please don’t bother me.” Borutski is “devastated” as he texts her through the night, calling her “a cruel, vindictive, self-centred human being” before signing off, “Karma will take over.”
Sept. 21, 2015 – Borutski angrily confronts Culleton at her cottage, who tells him she and her new boyfriend call Borutski “the BF – the best friend who will do anything … they had this big joke about it… she was laughing.” He had placed about 20 handwritten messages, mostly wishes for a happy retirement, scrawled in black marker on scraps of wood left around the property. As police later discovered on Culleton’s digital camera recovered from the scene, she had taken photos to document each one. At some point, Borutski drops a handwritten letter in the mail addressed to Culleton’s North Gower home.
Borutski returns to Palmer Rapids agitated that evening, telling neighbours he just caught his girlfriend in bed with another man. He shares a couple of drinks with a neighbour and discusses Bible passages, particularly “the difference between killing and murder.” He tells his neighbour, “This is the Bible I believe in and I am going to show it to the judge.”
He then retrieves the shotgun and stashes it in a bush outside the apartment complex, and falls asleep on the couch with the Bible in his hand.
Sept. 22, 2015 – Borutski leaves his apartment at 5967 Palmer Rd. at 7:30 a.m., grabs the shotgun and drives away in his neighbour’s borrowed car. He drives 20 km to 670 Kamaniskeg Rd. and confronts Culleton at her cottage. She retreats back inside as Borutski smashes the glass door pane with his elbow and forces his way in. He strangles her to death on her bed with a television cable while she pleads, “This is not you Basil, this is not you.” He smokes a cigarette and deposits the butt in the sink, empties her purse and grabs her car keys and cellphone, then drives away in her Mazda 3.
Borutski drives 33 km to Wilno, where he arrives at the home of Kuzyk and confronts her as she screams. Kuzyk’s sister Eva runs downstairs screaming at the man in the doorway, who returns from his car with a shotgun. He shoots Kuzyk in the neck as she cowers behind a kitchen countertop. Eva runs for help and flags down a nearby road crew. Speaking frantically on a 911 call at 8:52 a.m., she tells the dispatcher she heard a gunshot.
Borutski drives 32 km through winding back roads, and arrives at the Foymount Road farmhouse where he once lived with Warmerdam and her two children. Undetected, Borutski calmly walks in the door, chases Warmerdam as she screams through the house with his shotgun levelled chest-high, and shoots her in the neck. He doesn’t see Adrian Warmerdam jump from the couch and run outside, where he hides in a bush and dials 911.
He later tells police he believed “God was making it easy for me” as he killed his first two victims. “They came right outside …” He recalled seeing himself from outside his body “like a zombie,” walking into Warmerdam’s farmhouse and killing her with a shotgun, then walking to the car and calmly driving away, asking “God, where do I go next?”
Borutski drives east down Foymount Road when Culleton’s cellphone rings, and he tosses it out the window, where it is later recovered in a ditch nine km from the farmhouse. Borustki drives through small, rural towns – “I remember thinking, what am I doing in Dacre?” he later recalled. He pulls into a roadside rest stop and wonders aloud, “God, I don’t know why you wanted me to do that but there must be a reason.”
In a portion of the confession video redacted from the jury, Borutski outlined a vague plan to kill another man in White Lake. He said he would have tried to shoot and kill any police officer who tried to stop him.
With his shotgun loaded with a live shell in the chamber and two more in the magazine, he drives 80 km to White Lake — “I was going to find the fat man.” Borutski arrives at a lumber company on Burnstown Road midmorning. He didn’t know his target’s name, though he had met the man years earlier, and said he learned his address “through the grapevine.”
He pulls into the driveway and approaches two workers at the sawmill, asking “Is the big guy around?” He drives around the property looking for the man as his target observes Borutski from a distance while Borutski drives away heading east.
By noon, the OPP manhunt has expanded to include Ottawa police, as both forces believe Borutski is venturing into city limits, and there are legitimate fears for further potential victims. Several buildings are locked down, including the Pembroke courthouse and an Ottawa law office.
Borutski pulls into a hydro right-of-way and stashes Culleton’s car near a family hunt camp at 3735 Becks Rd. in Kinburn and begins writing in a notebook. “I hate money,” one entry begins. Police have made contact with Arthur Borutski and escorted the suspect’s brother to a mobile command unit at the corner of Becks Road and Kinburn Side Road. With a police negotiator at his side, “Bunker” continues a text exchange with Borutski, who texts his brother: “Yes I did it … The guilty have paid … justice finally … I’m tired …”
Borutski texts his neighbour and tells her the car he borrowed is at Culleton’s cottage with $100 in the console. Then he texts his daughter goodbye: “Sorry Sahra, your mom took your dad on you … Amanda too … I’m all alone. Nobody ever believes me.”
By 2 p.m., with an OPP helicopter and Ottawa police Cessna circling overhead, a tactical unit is scouting sniper locations, concerned they could be walking into an ambush, when they get word of a group of schoolchildren out on a field trip about 800 metres from the site of Borutski’s eventual takedown, and escort the children to the safety of the school, now guarded by heavily armed police officers.
Borutski walks out into an adjoining field unarmed as his brother relays police instructions by text: “Hands up. No gun.” The tactical unit breaks into an “L-ambush” formation, as one team approaches the suspect head-on with a K-9 unit and officers in support, while a second team emerges from the bushline on Borutski’s flank. “Do you wanna know where the gun is?” he says as he’s arrested.
Police follow his directions and find the rusted old shotgun lying in the long grass next to a sandwich bag of shells, and a note impaled on a branch: “I have no gun. Don’t murder me. I give up.”
— With files from Andrew Duffy