Canadian Army Commander charged with murder of two women & sexual assault of others
BELLEVILLE, Ont. — The base commander of CFB Trenton has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the murders of two area women, including a fellow soldier.
Col. Russ Williams, the wing commander at CFB Trenton, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd and two other home invasions last September in the Tweed area.
Police said Williams has also been charged with two counts of forcible confinement and two counts of break and enter and sexual assault in connection with two sexual assaults of two Tweed women back in September.
Williams was arrested Sunday in Ottawa.
Police told reporters in Belleville today that a roadside canvas on Feb. 4, brought Williams to their attention.
Lloyd, 27, was reported missing Jan. 29. after she failed to show up for her job with Tri-Board Student Transportation Services in Napanee. The last time anyone heard from Lloyd was the night before when she sent a text message to a friend.
Her body was found early Monday morning off Cary Rd. near Tweed.
Last week, friends of Lloyd started distributing vehicle decals with photos of her, as well as her description and contact information for police.
Comeau, 38, was found murdered in Brighton, Ont., on Nov. 25, 2009. She was a member of 437 Squadron at CFB Trenton.
"This is a very sad case and our hearts go out to the two victims families," OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino said Monday.
The OPP got involved last week when Belleville Police called for their assistance, Fantino said.
"We threw all our resources at it just like we did for Tori Stafford and it was a joint investigation with the Belleville service," Fantino said. "It was a massive, co-operative investigation from both sides and we are pleased to have been able to solve it."
With more than 20 years in the Canadian Forces, Williams is a married man who according to a DND senior staff biography, is a keen photographer, fisherman and runner.
In the 1990s, Williams was stationed in Ottawa where he flew VIP Challenger jets for the 412 Transport Squadron.
When asked if they believe Williams may be allegedly tied to other crimes, OPP inspectors said they will be tracking back through his accomplished career and will be speaking with police services in the jurisdictions where he was stationed.
Murder suspect flew for VIP's, including Governor-General & Canadian Prime Minister
The officer charged in the deaths of two Ontario women was pilot to VIPs including the prime minister and Governor General before he was handed command of the country’s largest air force base.
Col. Russell Williams, 46, of Tweed, Ont., was arrested Sunday in Ottawa. He was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of two women and with the sexual assaults of two others.
Posted to 412 (Transport) Squadron in Ottawa in the 1990s, Williams flew one of four Canadian Forces Challenger jets in the “VIP transport role,” says a brief biographical sketch posted on the Defence website.
That would have put him at the stick of the prime minister’s and Governor General’s planes during domestic and overseas trips.
“A keen photographer, fisherman and runner, Col. Williams and his wife Mary Elizabeth are also avid golfers,” says the biography.
A 23-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, he is a former director-general of military careers, who oversaw assignments for transport pilots.
Last July, Williams was given command of Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario. Besides the base itself, Williams also commanded 8 Wing.
Trenton is the sprawling air base from which troops leave for Afghanistan and to which they return home when their tours end, sometimes in coffins.
Located midway between Toronto and Ottawa, the base is Mile 0 of the Highway of Heroes, the section of Highway 401 over which funereal processions carry the bodies of dead Canadian soldiers to Toronto for autopsy.
Trenton is a hub of Air Command activities. A major search-and-rescue base, it is also the site from which the military’s Disaster Assistance Response Team departed for Haiti last month.
It is also home to the military’s growing new fleet of CF-130J Hercules transports and the giant C-17 Globemaster strategic-lift aircraft.
He was project director for the Globemaster and Hercules purchases.
Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, the chief of the air staff, issued a statement Monday, saying an interim commander would soon be appointed at Trenton.
“In the coming days, a review will be initiated by 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg to determine the most appropriate action to take regarding Col. Williams pending the outcome of the trial,” he said.
“The Canadian Forces hold their members to a very high standard of conduct and performance, in Canada or abroad, on or off military duty. I confirm that the air force is fully supporting civilian authorities in the conduct of the current matter.”
Williams received a degree in economics and political science from the University of Toronto, and a master’s in defence studies from Royal Military College. He’s also a former flying instructor.
He spent two years commanding 437 (Transport) Squadron in Trenton, including six months in 2005-06 as commanding officer of the military’s secretive Camp Mirage, a logistics base on the Arabian Gulf.
Williams was promoted colonel early last year while on a six-month French-language training course in Gatineau, Que.
The colonel met Trenton Mayor John Williams and council before taking over command from Col. Mike Hood last July 15.
“I look forward to meeting many more members of the community and strengthening that relationship Col. Hood worked so hard to develop,” Col. Williams said at the time.
“These are exciting times for the air force.”
Canadian military in total shock
KINGSTON, Ont. – Canada’s top soldier said Monday that military members are “in shock” at the unfolding events in Trenton, where the base commander has been charged with murdering two young women.
Visiting CFB Kingston, chief of defence staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk urged soldiers not to let the events at CFB Trenton distract them.
“This is a tough day for anyone in uniform,” Natynczyk said.
Yesterday, police announced Col. Russell Williams, 46, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Williams' brief career highlights
He’s accused of killing Jessica Lloyd, a 27-year-old woman who lived north of Belleville who disappeared 12 days ago.
Lloyd worked for the Tri-Board transportation agency in Napanee.
Williams is also accused of killing Marie Comeau, 37, who was a corporal at the Trenton airbase where Williams was the commanding officer.
He also faces charges of sexual assault in connection with two home invasions in the Tweed area in September.
Williams holds a Master of Defence Studies degree from Royal Military College after attending the Canadian Forces Command and Staff course from August 2003, to June 2004, according to Williams’ official Air Force biography.
His arrest dominated conversation at the Kingston military base yesterday, where Natynczyk said there’s a duty that comes with command for everyone from corporals up to generals.
He said that the events unfolding in Trenton did not reflect on the forces as a whole.
“What is happening does not change our morals or the honour of those of us who wear the uniform,” Natynczyk said.
One of suspect's rape victims describes nightmare
“I was in the company of the devil himself.
“And I was sure he was going to kill me.”
She has titanic courage, this Tweed single mom.
For 21/2 hours in the deepest dark of last Sept. 30, she fought, begged, cajoled and prayed for her life.
And now the horror of that sexual assault returns in a stunning flash.
Her accused attacker is CFB Trenton’s commander, Col. Russ Williams — also charged Monday in another Tweed sexual attack, and for the murders of Jessica Lloyd and Marie-France Comeau.
A top soldier. A neighbour. A leading citizen of Tweed.
“I’m still in shock,” the mom tells me. “Just sick to my stomach. He was so close.”
The detectives gave her the news first thing Monday morning. “It’s over,” they assured her.
Well, not by a long shot. Not for her. Hours of counselling lie behind and ahead.
And she will live that night again and again.
She fell asleep alone in her house, in a back room, and awoke around 2 a.m. She was choking. Her comforter was pressed to her face. “I thought maybe there was a fire,” she says.
But it was a man. A strong man. She struggled. He beat her about the head. She broke free enough to breathe.
“You DON’T want to look at me,” he said. His voice was deep and muffled.
“I won’t,” she whispered. But he blindfolded her and she never laid eyes on him, not once.
Even when he bound her hands behind her back.
Even when he trussed her up in a sort of makeshift harness, fashioned from a pillowcase, twist ties and wire he found in her room.
Even when he cut off her clothes with a knife and said, “I’ll be careful not to cut you.”
Even when he assaulted her.
Even when he took photographs, letting her touch the camera so she’d know.
Even when he told her: “You seem like a nice lady.”
“It was so bizarre,” she says. “He was playing a game with me. I had conversations with him the whole time, almost like I was negotiating with him.”
“You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?” she asked him, early on.
“No need for that,” he replied.
He convinced her he had accomplices burglarizing her home, though she heard nothing.
At 4:30 a.m, in that bleakest time before dawn, he ordered her onto her knees, head down, on a couch. “He has a gun,” she thought. “Now, I die.”
But he left, warning her he’d come back in 10 minutes. She waited, but he did not return. And she called for help.
The next four months are a blur. DNA tests, therapy, bewilderment, fear. She bought a German shepherd. She could not sleep. Always the question: Who could do this? In Tweed!?
She saw no connection to the Lloyd and Comeau cases, until cops announced last week there might be a link.
Then came Monday’s shocking news. The other sexual assault. Two women murdered. One suspect. The police vowing to probe the colonel’s past.
“Why am I alive?” the Tweed mom asks me.
I wish I had an answer. She will seek it for years to come.
“I guess I’m blessed,” she says. “He let me live. I can’t explain it.
“Now I just want to sleep. I’m so exhausted.”
She knew Col. Williams only to say hello. She did not even know he was CFB Trenton’s commander.
Shortly after Christmas, she drove past his front yard on Cosy Cove Lane.
She waved. He waved back.
Wow, a scumbag makes it close to the top and falls. This is not really a big surprise. Ascension to higher ranks doesn't equate with being morally superior - sometimes it is contradictory. It is unfortunate that the Military's system of screening for advancement didn't have the ability to flag the guy sooner.
yup, and if he got into some kind of bar brawl or other stupid, harmless shit, he would be disqualified