Basil Borutski guilty of murdering 3 women in shocking killing rampage

Basil Borutski has been found guilty of murdering three of his former partners in a shocking one-day killing rampage in Renfrew County, Ont., that has been called one of the worst cases of domestic violence in Canadian history.

A jury of six men and five women returned guilty verdicts on two counts of first-degree and one count of second-degree murder just after 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Borutski, 60, refused to stand as the madam foreperson of the jury read the verdicts: guilty of first-degree murder in the shootings of Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam at their homes in Wilno and Foymount, and guilty of second-degree murder in the strangling of Carol Culleton at her cottage near Combermere.

His sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 5-6 at the courthouse in Pembroke, Ont.

- TONIGHT | Watch The Fifth Estate: Circle of Fear: Basil Borutski and the Renfrew County Murders at 9 p.m.

Borutski remained silent over the seven weeks of proceedings against him, but broke that silence about halfway through Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger's instructions to the jury Wednesday, to accuse the judge of lying.

And Borutski spoke again after the jury retired to deliberate.

"I'm not guilty," he said, pulling on his green coat in the prisoner's box.

The jury determined otherwise after about 14 hours of deliberations over three days.

This is what happened.

Leaves apartment 7:36 a.m.

At 7:36 a.m. on Sept. 22, 2015, Borutski walked out of his apartment at 5967 Palmer Rd. in Palmer Rapids, Ont., in a camouflage hat and pants, as if he were going hunting. He had with him a decades-old, sawed-off 12-gauge pump-action shotgun he later told police he'd found under the floorboards of an old motor home in a scrapyard.

He borrowed a neighbour's car and drove to a gas station just up the road. The gas light was on and he needed to fuel up, but the station was closed.

After sitting there in the parking lot for a time he drove next to a cottage owned by Culleton at 670 Kamaniskeg Lake Rd. near Combermere, Ont. — a short trip, about 15 minutes northwest.

He called her Jiggy; "jig for fisher," he would later tell police, hours after her murder. "Here's the bait, take the bait away, here's the bait, take the bait away. I told her, 'That's the way you treat me, Carol.'"

They'd been in a relationship a couple years back and in early 2015 he popped up in her life again, offering to help get her cottage ready to sell. She was close to retiring from her work as a pay analyst for the federal public service, her longtime partner had died of cancer, and she was looking to downsize.

Borutski told her he was bored and needed something to do. It would be cheap. She'd save some money.

Strange behaviour

But it didn't take long for the renewed friendship to sour, for his behaviour to become strange and worrisome.

Culleton told friends and colleagues she was annoyed with how he'd start new projects she didn't ask for without finishing others, and that she was starting to feel like the cottage wasn't hers anymore.

He made a habit of showing up unannounced, tore up flowers he planted after she sat on another man's knee a couple weeks before her murder, and gave her a shock by showing up at her house in rural south Ottawa — she was sure she hadn't given him the address, but he told her it was on a card she'd given him once.

"I said, 'Carol, you've got a stalker. He's stalking you,'" her friend Ron Ethier testified.

The text messages between them bore out Borutski's desperation, his need to control Culleton, his wish for her to see him in a certain light. In the two weeks leading up to her murder he sent her more than a hundred messages — she sent only 15 in reply.

Asks Borutski to stop bothering her

It came to a head the weekend of her retirement, the weekend before her killing. She had reunited with her boyfriend and asked Borutski to stop bothering her.

It stung him to the quick, and he sent more than a dozen unanswered texts begging for an explanation, to talk, to be friends.

He showed up at the cottage on Monday, the day before he murdered her, and she told her friend Ron Ethier that Borutski "was very upset" and collecting his things. Borutski's last texts to Culleton were sent around 6 p.m. that day.

- "You are a cruel vindictive self centred human have no heart and no hooked me real good I believed you and in you [...] you got me for about $10.000 in labour and another 2 or 3 thousand in cash I spent on you and your cottage...congratulations..I will never text or talk to you happy...karma will pay you for your heartless ways...bye....wish I never met you.'

- "I will endure the betrayal of yet another false friend....I all fill [...] everyone else in on the true you....karma will take over.."

When he arrived at the cottage the next morning, Culleton was alone.

The following is Borutski's own account of what happened, taken from the five-hour interview he gave to OPP Det. Sgt. Caley O'Neill the day after his arrest.

'This is not you, Basil'

"And I remember thinking that God is really helping me, because when I went to Carol's, Carol walked right outside. And then I asked her, I said, 'Why do you hate me,' or 'Why are you doing this to me,' or both," Borutski said.

"And then she closed the door, I was right there, and then I broke the window with my elbow and I reached in and I unlocked the door. And she said, 'This is not you, Basil, this not you.'

"Then she told me that [a man] was coming over because the hydro was out, and I said, 'You're lying to me again,' and there was a, a cable TV coil, I picked it up and I hit her with it, then I wrapped it around her head. And she just kept saying, 'This is not you, Basil, this is not you.'"

After it was done he smoked a cigarette, left the butt in Culleton's kitchen sink, dumped out the contents of her purse and took her cellphone and keys.

Then he abandoned his neighbour's car, left $100 inside for gas, stole Culleton's car and drove northeast.

There had been no witnesses, no calls to police. There was no manhunt, no one looking for him.

That would soon change.

Drives to second victim

From Culleton's cottage it was about a half-hour drive northeast to the home of Kuzyk, the second victim.

Borutski's relationship with her happened not long after his initial romantic relationship with Culleton. A friend of Kuzyk and Warmerdam, Genevieve Way, told CBC News Warmerdam — who had dated him years earlier — warned Kuzyk about Borutski and supported her when their relationship ended.

And it ended violently. On Dec. 30, 2013, Borutski assaulted Kuzyk, tried to choke her and caused mischief to her property. He was convicted in September 2014 and was released from jail in December that same year, bound by a two-year probation order and lifetime weapons ban he would ultimately break when he murdered Kuzyk and the others.

Borutski arrived at Kuzyk's house at 37 Szczipior Rd. in Wilno, Ont., some time around 8:45 a.m., and when he came to the door, her sister Eva Kuzyk was upstairs.

She testified she heard Anastasia scream at the top of her lungs and ran down in time to see a man hide behind the door and Anastasia on the kitchen floor.

'Stay away from my sister'

"It's Basil," Eva remembered Anastasia whispering.

Eva rushed to confront him, but by that time he was outside.

"My thought was, in order to survive this, you better fight back," she testified. "At this time, my clear memory is rushing to the door and saying, 'Stay away from my sister.'"

Eva ran back inside, peered out a window and saw Borutski return, this time with the shotgun.

'I thought, we are both going to die'

"I thought, we are both going to die. That's what I thought. Then the gun went off, [it] sounded to me literally behind me. ... I opened the door quickly and I ran for my life. And I thought, 'I need to get an ambulance, he probably shot Anastasia, I have to get some help.' And I opened the door and I ran for my life," Eva testified.

In Borutski's account to police, he accused Kuzyk of lying during the court proceedings against him.

"She just walked out and I asked Anastasia, I just said, 'Why did you lie in court?' And she said, 'I didn't,' and the gun went off, because it just — lies," Borutski said. "There was a little island and she was standing, and she just went down and the gun went off after she went down. It was as if it was supposed to be."

When Eva called 911 from a nearby road maintenance crew's truck at 8:52 a.m., a dispatcher told her a sergeant thought he knew who the attacker was, and that every officer in the area was on the way.

Culleton's body still hadn't been found, and wouldn't be for another two hours.

Drives to third victim

And Borutski, meanwhile, drove southeast toward Warmerdam, the third victim.

It was about a 30-minute trip to her farmhouse at 3594 Foymount Rd. near Eganville, Ont., where he had lived with her for several years.

She volunteered for an organization called Co-operative Policing: Killaloe Area, which aims to improve policing at the Killaloe OPP detachment, and had been Borutski's biggest ally in his disputes with his former wife.

But Warmerdam's relationship with him eventually soured, too. On July 27, 2012, he caused mischief to her property and threatened to kill her dog and hurt her son.

Borutski was convicted in December and was released from jail less than a month later, bound by a two-year probation order he'd eventually break when he assaulted Kuzyk. Part of that probation involved an order to participate in a domestic violence response program, but he never attended a single session, not even after trying to choke Kuzyk.

Protected herself with shotgun, surveillance, panic button

In the intervening years, Warmerdam took precautions.

She slept with a shotgun under her bed. She had a panic alarm issued to survivors of domestic violence. And she had several surveillance cameras installed at her home.

One of them captured Borutski's arrival at the farmhouse at 9:31 a.m. Sept. 22, 2015, and shows him calmly walking inside. She and her then 20-year-old son Adrian were home at the time. It would be over in about a minute.

Adrian, now 22, testified he saw Borutski chase his mother toward him.

"That's when I saw her running through the kitchen towards me … I saw somebody was behind her. They rounded the corner, coming through the living room I was in, and then I saw the person following her seemed to be Basil holding a gun, so I immediately ran out of the house," he said.

"On the way out of the house I heard what seemed [to be] a gunshot. I ran out into the bush and I called 911 and waited for police."

He hid in the woods, lay there on his stomach for more than an hour, and stayed on the phone with a 911 dispatcher until police arrived.

'The gun was just going off. It was like, boop'

Borutski's own account of the shooting sounded almost nonchalant. By then, after he'd described strangling Culleton and shooting Kuzyk, it was as if confessing to murder was no big deal.

"What happened? I just drove in, walked in the door, she was sitting there, she went around the corner, I followed her, boom, walked out, that's it. ... And it was funny, it was like I wasn't even pulling the trigger on the gun, the gun was just going off. It was like, boop," he told police.

After shooting Warmerdam he walked calmly back to Culleton's car and drove east to a "little sawmill" in White Lake, Ont., tossing Culleton's cellphone out the window along Foymount Road.

He was in search of "the fat man," who had been selling backhoes to Warmerdam and others. Borutski told police he wanted to kill the fat man, but that he wasn't at the sawmill when he arrived. Borutski spoke to two people who didn't know where the man was, then drove away.

By this time, schools in the area were in secure mode and courthouses were in lockdown. Residents were being asked to stay inside their homes. Other people police thought might be targets were singled out for protection.

Police cruisers roamed the streets. Ottawa police were fanning out, too, alerted that Borutski might be heading for the city. And Culleton's body was discovered by a real estate agent just after 11 a.m.

In all, police searched the area for about five hours.

Arrested in rural west Ottawa field

Borutski ended up at a relative's property off Becks and Kinburn Side roads in the rural west Ottawa community of Kinburn, Ont. He parked Culleton's car and walked out into the bush, texting his neighbour and his brother Arthur.

Helicopters circled overhead. Tactical officers in protective gear were staging nearby, alerted to his presence in the area.

Borutski admitted to his sickening crimes but accepted no real responsibility for them, texting his brother that it was the system's fault, that the women were the guilty ones, that no one had listened to him.

- "Helicopter is circling...I'm in [...] bush....yes I did it....they took my life away on me....I was innocent of every charge ever laid against .e"

- "The guilty have paid...justice finally...I.m tired"

- "If they would of listened to me none of this would of happened"

- "I was not guilty.the system destroyed me..I ha e nothing left"

- "Murder is killing something innocent..I didn.t."

Officers surrounded him, gradually moved in to make the arrest, and by 2:32 p.m. Borutski was in custody. He told officers where to find the shotgun nearby and was escorted to a cruiser.

Silent in court until Wednesday

Ahead of his trial Maranger ordered a psychiatric assessment for Borutski, but he was silent when the psychiatrist showed up to ask questions. They sat in a room for about 30 minutes, and afterward the psychiatrist could only report that an assessment wasn't possible.

During the vast majority of his trial Borutski didn't speak a word. He refused to hire a lawyer and therefore represented himself, but made no real attempts to do so, refusing to speak to anyone or accept documents.

Day after day, hour after hour, he sat in the prisoner's box either squeezing his eyes shut, staring blankly ahead, looking around, or resting with his back and head against the glass, his eyes closed. He took notes very rarely, and interrupted proceedings twice by knocking on the glass to ask for a pencil and to pass lawyers some questions to ask a witness.

But that changed Wednesday in the middle of Maranger's instructions to the jury. Borutski asked the judge whether he missed an explanation, in front of the jury, that it was his time to call evidence and make a closing statement.

"Has that happened, have I missed that?" Borutski asked.

"At every instance I asked you if you had any questions of a witness in front of the jury. In front of the jury I asked you if you were going to call any evidence. You didn't. I asked you in front of the jury if you wanted to make closing arguments. So yes, I did do that. I said I was going to do it, and I did it. I did it with exact precision, Mr. Borutski," Maranger replied.

Borutski said he didn't believe him, then questioned why he hadn't been given a pencil and paper throughout the proceedings.

Crown prosecutor Jeffery Richardson and court-appointed amicus James Foord agreed with Maranger, saying he consistently gave Borutski the chance to speak and raise issues.

Sentencing hearing

Borutski is automatically sentenced to life in prison for the three murders, but what's now at issue is when he'll be able to apply for parole.

He will be ineligible to apply for parole for 25 years for the first-degree murder of Kuzyk, and for the first-degree murder of Warmerdam the judge will decide whether Borutski will face another 25 years of parole ineligibility either concurrently or consecutively.

As for the second-degree murder of Culleton, Borutski could face another 10 to 25 years of parole ineligibility — again, either concurrently or consecutively.

Depending on what Maranger decides, Borutski might have to wait anywhere from 25 to 75 years to apply for parole. That means he will remain in prison until he's at least 85 years old.

The sentencing hearing will also give the families of the victims a chance to be heard through victim impact statements, and the Crown is hoping to present a community impact statement as well.

As Maranger noted in court Friday, the three murders left an "indelible mark" on Renfrew County.

Borutski will likely also have a chance to address court for the final time, but whether he will or not is anyone's guess.

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