5 Of Canada’s Worst Serial Killers

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As behavioural science and investigation tactics have evolved, the era of the prolific serial killer who manages to evade the law for decades seems to be coming to an end. At least as far as we know. Bruce McArthur—the 60-year-old man recently arrested and charged for the murders of two men in Toronto’s gay village and suspected of more—proves that there are still plenty of killers out there lurking in the shadows, and some of them are definitely in Canada.

When you think serial killer, names like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Richard Ramirez probably come to mind. When compared with the U.S., Canada is known for being friendlier, slower paced, and safer—but there have been a few serial killers north of the border that are just as terrifying as their American counterparts. Here are just a few of Canada’s worst offenders:

Robert Pickton
Robert Pickton owned a pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C. where he would throw huge parties frequented by locals, prostitutes from Vancouver, and members of the Hell’s Angels. In 1997, he was charged with the attempted murder of a sex worker but the charges were dismissed. It wasn’t until 2002 when police searched the Pickton farm on an illegal firearms warrant that they found personal items that belonged to a number of missing women from the area. Over the next couple months, Pickton was charged with 27 counts of first-degree murder.

Several extensive excavations of the farm and a $70 million investigation revealed the remains of several missing women and evidence that Pickton had both fed the bodies directly to his pigs and ground up human flesh and mixed it with pork that he then sold to the public. He was eventually found guilty of 6 counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. An episode of Criminal Minds is based on the Pickton case, Last Podcast on the Left did a detailed series on the case Steve Cameron’s book On the Farm provides a closer look at Pickton’s notoriety in the Vancouver and Port Coquitlam area.

Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka
Paul Bernardo is arguably the most well-known Canadian serial killers because of the highly publicized Scarborough rapist investigation followed by the rapes and murders he committed with his wife, Karla Homolka. In 1991, Bernardo conspired with Homolka to drug and rape Homolka’s younger sister Tammy because Homolka reportedly wanted to “give Tammy’s virginity to Bernardo for Christmas”. Tammy ended up choking on her own vomit while unconscious and dying. Her death was ruled accidental.

Bernardo later kidnapped, raped and murdered two teenage girls, Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, with Homolka’s help. Although Bernardo had submitted a DNA sample as a person of interest in the Scarborough rapist case, it took 26 months for it to be tested and matched to him. During that time he was able to murder two innocent girls. Before he was arrested, Homolka turned on him asking for full immunity in return for her testimony. She was instead offered a plea bargain of 12 years—a move that the media dubbed “a deal with the devil”—which she took. Homolka was released from prison in 2005 and Bernardo is eligible to apply for parole in February 2018 although he is designated a dangerous offender and unlikely to ever be released.

Elizabeth Wefflaufer
In September 2016, Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a registered nurser entered an inpatient drug rehab program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. While there, she confessed to staff that she had killed and attempted to kill multiple patients while working as a nurse in various long-care homes for the elderly in Woodstock, London, Paris and Ingersoll, Ontario. She later confessed to police that she had purposely injected eight elderly patients with enough insulin to kill them. She plead guilty to all charges and was sentenced to eight concurrent life terms in prison.

Wettlaufer revealed that she had confessed to the murders several times before, once to a lawyer, and she was never reported to the police. An inquiry into the safety and security of residents in long-term care homes has been launched to determine the circumstances that allowed Wettlaufer to kill and attempt to kill so many people without being detected

Cody Legebokoff
One of Canada’s youngest convicted serial killers, Cody Legebokoff was 20 when he was arrested for murdering 15-year-old Loren Leslie. He was pulled over by an RCMP officer for driving erratically and found covered in blood. He claimed he had clubbed a deer to death because” “I’m a redneck, that’s what we do for fun.” Police traced Legebokoff’s tire tracks and footprints back to Leslie’s remains. His DNA was then linked to the murders of three more women.

Legebokoff was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder in 2014 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. The murder of Leslie was covered in the 2015 documentary Highway of Tears, a film about a stretch of Highway 16 in B.C. notorious for being the site of numerous unsolved murders and disappearances of women, many of the them Aboriginal.

Clifford Olson
With a score of 38/40 on the Psychopath Checklist, Clifford Olson is one of Canada’s worst serial killers to date. After he was arrested in 1981 on suspicion of the attempted abductions of two girls, Olson was charged with the murder of 14-year-old Judy Kozma. He later confessed to 11 more murders and made a deal with the authorities to lead them to the bodies of the victims if $10,000 was placed in a trust for his wife and infant son for each body.

Olson was a career criminal with more than 90 convictions under his belt before he was charged with murder. He was a sadistic con artist with no sense of remorse. He plead guilty to the murders and was sentenced to 11 concurrent life sentences. He applied for parole three times but was denied due to being classified a dangerous offender. Olson died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 71.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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