Cross-dressing pilot’s fetish led to serial killings
Colonel Russell Williams was a respected air force leader in charge of Canada's largest air force base, in Trenton, Ontario.
He was a respected and decorated pilot who flew war and repatriation missions and also ferried around prime ministers and Queen Elizabeth II.
But at night he transformed into a grubby sex fiend who fuelled his own perverse desires by breaking into the homes of single women to wear and steal their underwear.
He got a thrill out of wearing the garments and photographing himself in them inside his victims' homes, often pleasuring himself as part of the experience.
True to his egocentric sexual nature, Williams kept photos of his trophies and his victims.
But his lust for sexual conquest and power grew.
Williams, aged in his mid 40s, was a long-time married man who lived between homes in Ottawa and Tweed.
In 2007, he began to act on his female underwear fetish.
He sought out homes of attractive young women, aged in their late teens to early 30s, and invaded their private lives.
After breaking into their homes he'd take his time to learn about them before picking through their underwear drawers and taking pictures of himself in their petite garments.
The cross-dressing air commander stole items included panties, bras, lingerie and sex toys.
He stored and catalogued hundreds of pieces of stolen underwear at his Ottawa home, and kept a file of pictures of his sexual conquests on computer hard drives.
Those pictures included self portraits of him modelling victims' under garments, sometimes while still in their bedrooms.
Williams committed more than 80 break-ins.
His eventual court hearing was reportedly told that, on one occasion, he typed the message "merci" on a 12-year-old victim's computer after he broke into her parents' home and pilfered some of her undies.
Other messages he left behind included "seen better".
COLONEL'S CRIMES ESCALATE
According to court documents, Williams' break-ins followed a disturbed yet pedantic pattern.
At least one time he broke into a home while naked; an act suggesting he wanted to take his experiences to a new level.
To sate his creepy cravings, the voyeuristic colonel gravitated to degrading sex assaults.
He committed the first of those in mid-September 2009, when he invaded a young mother's home while she slept in her bed.
Her baby was sleeping in the next room.
"I'd seen her and she was cute," Williams would later tell Ontario Provincial Police investigator Det-Sgt Jim Smyth during a videotaped interview.
"I stood over her for a while and I hit her … just woke her up. We struggled.
"I just lay on her and … pulled her top down and took off her pants and took some pictures."
Williams stole some of the woman's underwear and fled.
Within weeks he carried out a similar sex attack on a nearby resident.
The first time Williams broke into that woman's home he "looked around to see if there were any permanent signs of her boyfriend."
"I took one or two pieces of her underwear," he later admitted to police.
The second time he broke in, only a couple of nights later around midnight, the woman was asleep on a couch in front of her television.
"I knew she lived alone," he admitted to police.
"I didn't know her but I knew she was pretty alone. She had a boyfriend and he hadn't seemed to be around. She told me they were fighting and that's why he hadn't been there."
Williams lied and told the petrified woman he was part of a burglary crew and his job was to control her as the others ransacked the house.
"We talked. I told her I wasn't going to hurt her … She was scared," he recounted.
"She was worried she was going to be seriously hurt … She was worried she was going to be killed."
Williams hit the woman with a torch he often carried during home invasions.
"We struggled. I subdued her," he later recalled.
He took demeaning and degrading pictures of her.
"Clothed initially, and then unclothed," he later told Det-Sgt Smyth.
"Because her hands were tied behind her back I think I cut off her top and then pulled off her bottoms."
Williams remained in the home for over two hours before leaving the terrified woman, alive.
"I just told her to count and wait for a number of minutes before she called police," he said.
As horrifying and vile as Williams' two sex attacks were, the worst was yet to come.
ATTACKS WEREN'T ENOUGH
Colonel Williams' depraved desires were blooming badly, and he decided to take his crime spree to a whole new despicable level.
He was about to rape and kill.
It was while on a mission flight that he met Canadian air force colleague Corporal Marie-France Comeau.
"I only met her once," Williams would tell Ontario Provincial Police investigator Det-Sgt Jim Smyth during a videotaped record of interview.
"She said she lived alone."
In November 2009 he first broke into Corporal Comeau's home when she wasn't there.
"I was playing with her underwear … Wearing it … (I took) a few pieces," he later told Det-Sgt Smyth.
After breaking in a second time, Williams raped and murdered Corproal Comeau after her cat came across him while he hid in her basement.
He was waiting for her to fall asleep, but she confronted him.
Williams said he hit Corporal Comeau with his torch, tied her up with rope and carried her to her bedroom.
"I raped her over a period of time," he would later admit.
"I suffocated her using duct tape … She was quite aggressive."
Corporal Comeau pleaded for her life before she died.
"Have a heart, please," she reportedly begged her killer.
"I've been good all my life. I don't want to die."
"Shut up," Williams replied, before pushing duct tape over her mouth and nose.
Days later, in his official capacity as Trenton base Wing Commander, Williams wrote a faux letter of condolence to Corporal Comeau's father.
"Marie-France was a professional, caring and compassionate woman who earned the respect of all with whom she came into contact," the killer's letter read in part.
"Please let me know whether there is anything I can do to help you during this very difficult time. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers."
WILLIAMS' NEXT VICTIM
By January 2010, Williams was craving another victim.
He chose a local woman after he saw her through a home window running on her treadmill.
Her name was Jessica Lloyd.
On the night he broke into her home, he said, he woke her up before binding her hands behind her back with rope he'd brought with him.
"I took her clothes off … I raped her," he said during his chilling police interview, later played in court.
"I threatened her … I put a zip tie around her neck and said that I would pull it if I didn't like what she was doing.
"I continued to rape her and I had her put on some of her underwear and took some pictures. Lots of pictures."
He later drove Ms Lloyd to his cottage in Tweed, where she had a seizure.
After she recovered, he said, he made her dress in some of her underwear he'd stolen, and he took more photos.
After telling her she was being allowed to leave, Williams hit Ms Lloyd on the head.
"She was immediately unconscious and then I strangled her," Williams told Det-Sgt Smyth.
Williams said he killed her to cover his crime trail.
"(Jessica) was a very nice girl. I think I killed her because I knew her story would be recognised … 'cos she knew I was taking pictures."
According to Williams, he left her body in his garage and travelled to his base at Trenton.
After a designated flight he visited his wife at their Ottawa home - the same home where he hid his stash of stolen women's underwear and pictures and videos of his sex attacks.
Upon his return to the Tweed cottage, he dumped Ms Lloyd's body.
"I just left her behind a fairly large rock," he told Det-Sgt Smyth.
He also said he filmed his time with Ms Lloyd.
"There's video as well," he said.
"Almost four hours, I guess."
Not long after Ms Lloyd's disappearance, police identified Williams as their suspect thanks to his 4WD's distinctive tyre tracks.
Ms Lloyd's killer had left tyre tracks outside her home.
Police at a roadside checkpoint matched those tracks to Williams' 4WD.
WILLIAMS GETS CAUGHT
He was called in for questioning.
Despite the fact he knew he'd raped and killed two women, he strolled into the police interview room chewing gum and making small talk.
His rapes and murders had followed two sex attacks he'd committed on women after breaking into their homes.
Those sex attacks had stemmed from his long-running habit of breaking into homes in and around the Canadian areas of Ottawa, Belleville and Tweed.
A married man, he and his wife owned a cottage in Tweed.
Their actual residence was in Ottawa.
It was only days after he had murdered his second victim, a local woman named Jessica Lloyd, that police linked the kinky air commander to the Lloyd disappearance through his distinctive tyre tracks.
Out of sheer stupidity or absolute arrogance, Williams walked into the February 2010 police interview wearing the very boots he'd worn when he killed Ms Lloyd - whose body was still missing at that stage.
"I have never been in an (interview) room like this … I guess the closest (was being) interviewed by NIS for top-secret clearance," Williams bragged.
"Russell, I appreciate you coming in," the Ontario Provincial Police investigating officer, Det-Sgt Jim Smyth, told him reassuringly.
Williams nodded, chewing nonchalantly.
"No problem," Williams smiled, unaware of the trap that sat ready for him.
The cops had solid evidence linking him to the crimes.
Det-Sgt Smyth read Williams his rights and asked him if he had a regular lawyer.
"I have a realty lawyer," the cocky colonel joked, before declining the offer to call in criminal counsel.
Det-Sgt Smyth told Williams he was connected by proximity to the four cases: the two sexually-driven murders and two sex assaults - during which an intruder had tied up, undressed and photographed women in their homes.
Williams consented to providing his fingerprints and a blood sample.
Investigators had already taken his boots for footwear impression tests.
Williams said he had nothing to hide: no secret connections to any of the victims.
But his cocky demeanour crumbled when Det-Sgt Smyth told him the tyres on his 4WD had left tracks near Ms Lloyd's home, and his boots had left prints at her house.
"These are identical. OK?" Det-Sgt Smyth put to Williams.
"Your vehicle drove up the side of Jessica Lloyd's house. Your boots walked to the back of Jessica Lloyd's house … You want discretion, we need to have some honesty."
Williams sat stunned.
He knew the police had outmaneouvered him.
"Hmm, I don't know what to say," the trapped killer offered, his mind and heart no doubt racing.
Det-Sgt Smyth strafed for a confession.
He told Williams search warrants were being executed at both his homes, and that his wife would now be aware of what was unfolding.
"Russell, you know there's only one option."
Williams: "What's the option?"
Det-Sgt Smyth: "Well, I don't think you want the cold-blooded psychopath option. I might be wrong … I've met guys who actually kind of enjoyed the notoriety. Got off on it. Got off on having that label, (serial killer Paul) Bernardo being one of them. I don't see that in you.
"This is over."
Williams: "It's hard to believe this is happening … I'm concerned they (other investigators) are tearing apart my wife's brand new house."
Williams sat silent for a while longer, before finally acknowledging the game was over.
"Okay," he said.
"So where is she?" Det-Sgt Smyth asked, referring to Ms Lloyd.
"You got a map?" Williams asked, before pointing police to her body.
Williams made full admissions about murdering Ms Lloyd and another woman, an air force colleague of his named Marie-France Comeau.
He also confessed to the two sexual assaults and breaking into many homes to steal underwear.
Det-Sgt Smyth asked Williams if he would have continued to rape and kill women if he hadn't been caught.
"I was hoping not but I can't answer the question," Williams replied.
WILLIAMS: 'I'M SORRY'
Williams wrote apologetic letters to his victims' relatives.
In one to Ms Lloyd's mother he wrote: "Jessica was a beautiful, gentle young woman as you know. I know she loved you very much - she told me so, again and again."
In the Ontario Superior Court in October 2010, Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and more than 80 other charges.
His crimes revealed "obsessive behaviour" and "unusual sexuality", it was said.
Williams reportedly told the court he was "indescribably ashamed" for committing "despicable crimes".
Crown prosecutor Lee Burgess described him as "simply one of the worst offenders in Canadian history".
"He was a leader," Mr Burgess said.
"He exploited that to divert suspicion from himself."
Justice Robert Scott sentenced Williams to two concurrent life sentences.
"Russell Williams will forever be remembered as a sadosexual serial killer," the judge said, as Williams sobbed.
"The depths of depravity demonstrated by Russell Williams have no equal."