This article includes detailed descriptions of violence.

Yesterday, we recounted the multi-generational violence in the Wortman family. The man the Halifax Examiner refers to as GW was of the fourth generation of that family, and as an adult murdered 22 people across Nova Scotia on April 18/19, 2020.

GW’s upbringing “turned him into a greedy, overbearing, little bastard,” said his uncle Glynn Wortman.

Today, we detail GW’s violence towards and manipulation of others throughout his life before the murders.

Leaving home

Bridges House. Photo: University of New Brunswick archives

After a tumultuous childhood in the Moncton area, in 1986 GW moved to Fredericton to attend the University of New Brunswick.

A man referred to as BM was a roommate of GW at Bridges House, a dorm, for about four months. In an police interview a few days after the murders, BM referred to GW as a “bizarre individual” who would stay out all night, brag about his sexual exploits, and get into protracted arguments with other students.

GW went out of his way to antagonize people by, for example, pissing on the common bathroom floor.

Two of BM’s toes are webbed together, and GW threatened to cut them apart when BM was asleep. “I’ll never forget he said that,” said BM.

Once, a group of students went to Zellers, and GW was shoplifting, “he’s like stuffing stuff in his jacket, he was just a bizarre guy.”

For his behaviour, his dormmates gave GW the “Chuck Cosby award,” a secret award for being the asshole of the year.

BM said GW hung out with a “jerk bag lawyer” — BM couldn’t remember the lawyer’s name, but it was likely Tom Evans, with whom GW had a long friendship.

“And I think he used to pay him for services rendered, if you want to put it that way,” said BM. “It was weird. He always claimed he had some sort of relationship with this guy, right? And you know it was bizarre to say the least; he was dating a woman at the same time. It was like kind of a weird, twisted thing.”

GW made lots of fake IDs, which BM assumed were used to buy alcohol. Multiple witnesses have said that GW paid his way through university by smuggling alcohol and cigarettes across the U.S. border to resell in Fredericton. But GW’s father Paul, who may not be a reliable source, told investigators that he spent about $100,000 in support of GW’s university education.

Move to Nova Scotia

GW got a “Psych degree” and a “business diploma” from UNB, said GW’s ex-wife, who is referred to as FF.

FF and GW met while at university. “He was very bright,” said FF. “He’s a very, very intelligent man and he could do just about anything. Like, he could fix a car, he could do carpentry work, he could do electrical, he could do a whole bunch of things. He was really handy… he was the very opposite to me as far as being able to do stuff and the way we thought about things.”

While still students, FF saw GW’s violent side. Once they were at the student union pub, and another man said something rude to FF. “All of a sudden, the guy was on the ground, and he was saying ‘apologize to her!’” The bouncers took GW off the man.

After university, GW worked in “child and youth” for the province of New Brunswick, but he didn’t like the profession “because there wasn’t enough  money in it.” GW found work at McAdam’s Funeral Home in Fredericton, and then the couple moved to Kentville, Nova Scotia so GW could get certified as an embalmer. He then found work at Walkers Funeral Home in Dartmouth.

The couple moved to an apartment above the funeral home on Prince Albert Road.

“I didn’t like it when he drank,” said FF. “He made me nervous.”

Halifax police records through this period show a number of police interactions with GW, including a missing persons report (filed by FF; GW was found), an angry interaction with a pawn shop operator (GW alleged the pawnshop was selling a boat that had been stolen from him five years previously), and an assault, on Nov. 24, 1996.

A man named Vincent McNeil said that he had been at a party where there was “free liquor” and went home, but then decided to go back to the party. En route, he walked through the funeral home parking lot and, he said, saw a man breaking the sideview mirror of a black jeep that turned out to belong to GW. McNeil yelled at the man and chased him, but GW heard the commotion and saw McNeil running, so assumed McNeil had broken the mirror.

“Vincent stated that [GW] kicked him in the left leg and punched him in the face twice, knocking him to the ground,” wrote Cst. James Henry MacVicar in the police report. GW demanded that McNeil pay for the damage, and McNeil handed over a ring and a bracelet that he said were valued at over $500.

McNeil called police the next day. MacVicar interviewed him, and then asked GW to come to the police station to give his side of the story. MacVicar sided with GW in the dispute, as he had no prior convictions. And McNeil had been drunk, after all, and “the writer feels that Vincent had fallen down on his face.”

GW made a career change.

“There wasn’t enough money in [embalming] for him,” explained FF. “He had bigger aspirations, so he decided to go into denturist.” He took classes at Nova Scotia Community College’s Akerley campus. FF supported GW financially for his three years of schooling. The couple rented an apartment at Pine and Myrtle Streets in Dartmouth.

One time, GW was drinking and FF somehow offended him — she didn’t remember the perceived offence, but he “pinned me down on the floor.” FF ran outside, yelling, and GW pulled her back inside. “I don’t remember what happened after that,” she said.

To make ends meet, the couple took in a roommate, a young woman, 19 or 20, whom GW met at denturist school. But the whole time, GW was having an affair with the younger woman. “I had zero idea, and really, I was flabbergasted. They were in my home and they lied to me so well every day that I had no clue.”

FF learned about the affair one day when she unexpectedly brought lunch to a denturist office GW was building on Almon Street, near the bus station. “I caught them kissing in the dentist chair. That didn’t go over so well.”

FF kicked the woman out of the apartment. GW apologized, but started drinking heavily, and the couple soon ended the marriage. GW bought the building on Portland Street and moved into the empty apartment above the space he made into a denturist office below.

Soon after, QQ met GW at The Thirsty Duck, and one night he brought her back to the apartment. GW may have met Lisa Banfield the very night QQ stopped dating GW. Read “She had a bad date with the future mass murderer, went back to his apartment, and an RCMP officer walked in.”

Denturist complaints

The killer’s property in Dartmouth in 2019. The teeth were removed from the building days after the mass shootings. — Google Maps

Multiple witnesses reported that GW was alternately kind and abusive towards his denturist patients. He’d extend credit to those who didn’t have insurance, but if they were late on their payments, he’d violently attack them.

Paul Wortman, GW’s father, recounted two such incidents.

“There was a guy that was not paying him, and he was in the neighbourhood,” walking by the denturist shop on Portland Street. “My son ran out early in the morning, he was in his underwear, and grabbed onto the guy, and said ‘give me your teeth.’” The man refused to take his teeth out, so GW reached into his mouth and pulled them out himself. According to Paul, GW said, “these will be in my office; when you get the money, they’re yours.”

Another time, while GW was shopping, he happened upon a man who owed him money. GW “said ‘give me your teeth,’ and the guy gave him his teeth and my son squashed them.”

At least eight of GW’s patients made complaints to the Denturist Board of Nova Scotia.

Three of the complaints came before the board at roughly the same time. The three complained of an ill-tempered denturist who refused to adjust or fix ill-fitting dentures, and one, named BO in the documents, complained that GW used “sex talk” while treating her, and asked her what colour her underwear was.

In response, GW wrote a letter to the board saying the complaints were nonsense.

“Three complaints in a few months is a real eye-opener,” wrote GW. “Some members of the public feel they should have an unfettered right to complain and to have that complaint investigated.”

“I have never acted in a dishonorable, disgraceful or unprofessional way,” he continued. “One has to see clearly that these letters of complaint have been written with one purpose in mind, vengeance. Having said that, they are also fueled by bitterness. I am in the opinion that these women all in the same age group cannot bear the fact that they are aging, coupled with the lost [sic] of teeth send them into a whirlwind.”

With regards to BO’s complaint, GW wrote that “This is clearly a person who is not well. I personally cannot imagine ever having sex talk with a 52 year old endentulous woman just the bare thought makes me ill.”

After a series of complaints, the board assigned a consulting denturist to review GW’s work. According to a March 20, 2006 letter from Maureen Hope, the registrar of the board, GW inappropriately tried to interfere with the investigator by asking the consulting denturist to change his opinion.

In the end, the board reprimanded GW, suspended him for one month, charged him $8,000, and required him to attend a seminar entitled “Dealing With Difficult People: How to Communicate with Tact and Skill.”

Portapique

The Portapique sign on Highway 2 was adorned with a NS tartan sash following the mass shooting that began there on April 18, 2020. Photo: Joan Baxter

The documents released this week by the Mass Casualty Commission show that GW continued to get in physical altercations and was involved in abusive and controlling relationships.

This continued as GW bought a cottage and then built a warehouse in Portapique.

Brenda Forbes, who is testifying today at the commission’s proceedings, detailed much of that behaviour; see “Brenda Forbes tried to warn neighbours and the RCMP about the ‘psychopath’ in Portapique years before he went on his murderous rampage. No one listened.”

As the Examiner reported in April, GW had a sexual relationship with a Portapique woman referred to as EE, who encouraged GW to have sex with “street girls.” We reported:

EE described her sexual experiences with GW.

“He’d be the little boy and I’d be the mummy and I’d be the cop,” explained EE, who would wear an RCMP uniform GW provided to her for the event. “He was one of those diaper kind of guys, so you would have to take off his diaper and you would have to clean his bum with your tongue and stuff like that instead of toilet paper, I mean it wasn’t dirty or pooping or anything like that but it was just imaginary, just kind of weird stuff.”

GW had an RCMP uniform and what EE described as “ankle shackles.” As well, he had two pairs of handcuffs — not police handcuffs, but rather the kind bought at sex shops (EE worked at a sex shop and was familiar with them).

At one point, a woman referred to as DD came to live with EE in Portapique, and EE arranged a sexual encounter between GW and DD.

“You hear the guys taking out their nephews for their 19th birthday and the strippers and all this,” said EE. “I thought it would be nice if DD — because she always said, ‘[EE] what’s a big one like?’ and I said, ‘Well’… so anyway, I arranged it for her to have somebody who was well-endowed, right, so I put them together, she went over and spent the night with him, and I picked her up in the morning.”

“She [DD] hates him, it was awful,” admitted EE.

“He was making me drinks,” recalled DD in a separate interview with Emily Hill, an investigator with the Mass Casualty Commission. “I was sitting there drinking. I remember being nervous because, like, I don’t know this guy, and clearly we’re going to have sex in a minute… I was trying to get more drunk because I didn’t like the situation.”

DD was then in her early 20s. She had recently been divorced. She was trying to attend university, but she had no place to live, so moved in temporarily with EE.

“I was just coming out of a breakup… I was a little, for lack of a better term, fucked up in the head about it,” DD told Hill. “I was trying to do whatever to cover up the pain I was feeling.”

“There’s two times I remember being at his house and having sex with him,” DD continued. “I think the way it works is he always gives you a bath first because he had a bathtub in the bedroom… I distinctly remember him giving me a bath… from what EE had told me, that’s what he did with these girls that he brings back.”

They had sex. “That was not a pleasant experience,” said DD.

Newly released documents explain that DD is EE’s daughter.

Housing disputes

A series of property disputes appears to have added to GW’s unravelling. These will no doubt be further detailed in a document to be released by the commission next week, “The Perpetrator’s Financial Misdealings.”

One of those property disputes was with Kip MacKenzie, and apparently involved property in Fredericton that once belonged to Tom Evans. See “A month before the mass murders, the perpetrator went to Pictou to kill someone else.”

Additionally, GW got in a dispute with his father Paul because Paul had lent him money to buy property in Portapique. After Tom Evans died and GW received an inheritance, GW paid Paul back in full, but Paul’s name was still on the deed. When Paul refused to take his name off the deed, GW threatened to kill him.

However, GW tried essentially the same scheme with his uncle Glynn. Glynn, then living out west, was in declining health, and GW convinced him to buy a property in Portapique. Glynn agreed, but couldn’t finance the purchase until he sold his former home; GW therefore provided a bridge loan to complete the deal. Glynn moved to Portapique, and when his old property sold, he repaid GW. But GW’s name remained on the deed, and he refused to remove it unless Glynn paid him another $70,000.

Another uncle, Neil, intervened, and the matter ended up in court before GW reluctantly removed his name from the deed.

Glynn ultimately sold the property — to Lisa McCully.

Tomorrow: GW’s violence towards Lisa Banfield.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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