OTTAWA, CANADA — On February 8, 2010, the shocking double life of Colonel Russell Williams came to an end when the respected Air Force officer and 23-year-veteran in the Canadian military was arrested and exposed as a fetishistic killer.
By day, Williams, who was the Commander of Canada’s largest Air Force base, was entrusted with the honor of flying important people such as Prime Ministers and Queen Elizabeth II in his plane. But by night, he broke into his victims’ homes and attacked them, and then forced them to undress and pose for sexually graphic photos.
Interviewed for MacLeans, Elliott Leyton, author of Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer, said, “Not many homicide offenders have met the Queen. That’s everything that every other serial killer is not.”Williams began his crime spree by stalking girls and women in their teens and twenties, although he did target a few as young as 11 and 12 years old. He would then break into their homes and steal their underwear — to wear himself. He would then model the underthings and take photos of himself wearing them. But Williams’ dark desires were spiraling out of control, and it was only a matter of time before his attacks escalated. Related: The Convoluted Inner World & Secret Codes Of Dennis “BTK” Rader
While on duty, Williams met Canadian air force colleague Corporal Marie-France Comeau. During their brief meeting, the Corporal happened to mention that she lived alone.
In November 2009, Williams accessed Comeau’s file and was able to find her home address. The first time he broke into her home, she was out, luckily, so he played with her underwear and left.
But he later broke in a second time — and this time, Comeau returned while Williams was still there. After being confronted by her, Williams hit Corporal Corneau with his flashlight, tied her up, and raped her in her bedroom. He then killed her, suffocating her to death by putting duct tape over her nose and mouth.
In a devastatingly callous move, Williams later wrote a 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. 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,” part of the letter said.
In January 2010, he spotted Jessica Lloyd through her window at home. Once again he used the same MO: He broke into her home, tied her up, and raped her. But this time he abducted Lloyd, driving her to his own cottage, and forced her to dress up in undergarments. Williams then hit her over the head and strangled her.
Not long after Lloyd’s disappearance, police identified Williams as their suspect after recognizing his vehicle’s distinctive tire tracks during a police roadblock. Once he was the target of an investigation, it was hard for Williams to deny culpability, as he had obsessively collected a detailed catalog of his crimes.
One of Williams’ victims, Laurie Massicotte, who Williams forced to strip naked and pose for a camera, alleged in a lawsuit that Mary Elizabeth Harriman “was aware” of her husband’s “illicit conduct” but “did not report that conduct to the police.”
Maclean’s reported that Massicotte’s suit charged that Massicotte profited financially from William’s crimes, as she acqured Williams’s assets after he was captured. However, in court documents, Harriman says it was “devastating” to learn the truth about her husband — and claimed that she was another victim of his double life.
On October 21, 2010, then 47 years old, Williams was sentenced to two life sentences for first-degree murder, two 10-year sentences for other sexual assaults, two 10-year sentences for forcible confinement, and 82 one-year sentences for breaking and entering, all to be served concurrently.
The life sentences mean Williams will serve a minimum of 25 years before he is eligible for parole.
For more on Russell Williams, watch the “Commander and Thief” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Deadly Sins on ID GO now!
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Main photos: Russell Williams [ABC News / YouTube (screenshot)]; police evidence/supplied