Mountie Who Investigated N.S. Mass Shooter Linked to Murder Case Under Federal Review

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
August 30, 2022 Updated: August 31, 2022

An RCMP officer who investigated the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooter has been linked to the alleged mishandling of a 2017 murder case that is under federal review.

Const. Greg Wiley is among three officers named in a 2018 police review of the gaps in the RCMP’s response to the murder case of Susie Butlin. The report was released with officer names unredacted this week by the public inquiry investigating the 2020 mass shooting.

Butlin, from Bayhead, N.S., had complained to the RCMP about being sexually assaulted and harassed by Ernest Ross Duggan before he killed her in September 2017. In August of that year, Wiley received Butlin’s complaints of harassment and was assigned as lead investigator.

According to the internal police report, Wiley “determined there was no basis for charges” and advised her to block Duggan on Facebook. Butlin’s murder investigation is now under a federal civilian review examining the RCMP’s response to her complaints and the adequacy of its handling of sexual assault investigations.

Wiley is also the officer who was asked in 2010 to look into whether Gabriel Wortman—the man who murdered 22 people in April 2020—had firearms at his home in Portapique, N.S. Wortman had threatened to kill his parents in New Brunswick in 2010.

On July 15, Wortman’s spouse, Lisa Banfield, testified during the inquiry that Wiley had come to the residence in Portapique in June 2010 to see “if he (Wortman) had guns at the cottage.” Wiley’s visit came after Wortman’s threats.

Banfield said Wiley was shown antique guns in the house during a visit that lasted 10 minutes.

During his interview last year with lawyers for the public inquiry, Wiley was unable to recall details of the June 2010 investigation. In a follow up letter to the inquiry, a lawyer for the RCMP said Wiley no longer had his notes from that time.

The June 2010 investigation into the alleged death threat that Wortman made against his parents did not lead to any charges.

The internal RCMP report on the Butlin case was originally submitted to the inquiry in a redacted form that blacked out the names of officers. Jennifer Cox, a lawyer for the public inquiry—known as the Mass Casualty Commission—said Monday at the hearings that the decision to withhold the officers’ names “impacted our ability to do the work.”

Cox added that the inquiry will work to rectify the situation and “overcome the fact that we might have missed opportunities to question witnesses when they appeared before the commission.”

Wiley hasn’t yet testified under oath, though the inquiry has heard he’s expected to appear at a future date.

In his interview last year, Wiley told the commission’s investigators he had a good rapport with Wortman and that they often had brief “chinwags” at the killer’s residence. Wiley estimated he visited Wortman in the “ballpark” of 15 occasions over the years, but he said he hadn’t noticed anything unusual.

According to a police report shared by the inquiry in May, the Halifax police led the 2010 investigation into Wortman’s threats against his parents. The investigating officer, now-retired sergeant Cordell Poirier, had referred to Wiley as a “friend” of Wortman, the report said. Poirier had said he asked Wiley on several occasions to visit Wortman’s Portapique residence to check for firearms and to determine if a search warrant was needed.

Also named in the Butlin report are Const. Stuart Beselt—the first officer to arrive at Portapique on the night the rampage began—and Const. Rodney MacDonald.

During the first night of the mass shooting, Beselt requested that an emergency broadcast be sent to warn neighbours about the killer. He was told that residents in the area were being called directly and that no broadcast was made. Beselt received praise for his bravery from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki for his response to the rampage.

MacDonald was one of the early responders to the mass shooting, coming to the scene voluntarily before his scheduled shift after a friend alerted him that an active shooter was killing citizens. He set up his police car at a bridge near Portapique in an attempt to prevent the killer—who unbeknownst to him had already fled the area—rom escaping. He also participated the next day in the hunt for the killer, as the rampage continued in the Wentworth area.

Beselt and MacDonald responded to a call from Duggan’s wife—April Duggan—to police on Aug. 21, 2017, during which she said she thought “her husband was going to kill Butlin,” according to the 2018 internal RCMP report. The report said the two officers located Duggan, who was drinking and appeared intoxicated. Duggan told the two officers he would “never hurt anyone.”

It was five days later that Butlin spoke with Wiley about the ongoing harassment from Duggan and when Wiley told her there was no basis for charges.

On Sept. 14, 2017, Butlin told Cpl. Neil Wentzell that she was not satisfied with the police response to her allegations.

Butlin was found dead in her home on Sept. 17, 2017.

A spokesperson with the National Police Federation said in an emailed statement that once the federal civilian review into Butlin’s case is released, the federation “will be reviewing it carefully and critically.”

A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia RCMP said in an email it is “committed to investigating complaints promptly and thoroughly, with sensitivity and without bias while prioritizing the needs of the victim.”