Savage in the Shadows: Colonel's double life revealed after burglaries, rapes and murders in quiet small Canadian towns
11/06/2017 12:57 pm PST
How well do you really know your neighbor, your best friend -- what about your husband or wife?
Do you think you would know if they were a sex-fueled monster with a thirst for blood?
Southern, Ontario, Canada. Safe, lots of retired folks, some farm folks. And at least one twisted pervert.
There had been a rash of break-ins in the area targeting single, vulnerable women in 2007. The thief had a creep factor that terrified many people in the town of Belleville. Sex toys and women's undergarments had been stolen.
In the tiny town of Tweed, Ontario in Canada, there is a series of violent and disturbing break-ins.
"They had separate investigations going on in the different communities," said journalist and author Cal Millar.
In Tweed, cops are investigating the savage sexual assaults of two women who had their bras and panties stolen. But the attacker didn't stop there, taking something else, truly terrifying.
"Pictures that he took while he's doing this," said Millar.
The first police report is from a 21-year-old woman.
"She lived alone, and she had a boyfriend, and she had a young daughter," said journalist and author Ian Robertson.
But on this night, her boyfriend is out of town and the woman is home with her newborn. After putting her baby to bed, she too falls asleep.
"Basically broke into the home while she was sleeping," said Millar.
Then suddenly out of a deep slumber, the nightmare begins. The woman is awakened up by a man standing in her bedroom. He quickly blindfolds her.
"He fondled her in the extreme. He tied her up and kept talking to her," said Robertson.
He tells her to model for him. Then the attacker begins to humiliate her.
"Was taking pictures of her," said Millar.
According to the woman, with each pose and snap of the camera's shutter, the intruder demands that she obey him or else.
"He constantly threatened her. She went through an absolutely horrendous ordeal and every second that he was there, she thought she was going to die," said Millar.
And don't forget, the entire time this degrading photo shoot is going on, the woman's newborn baby is in the room next door.
"She also was begging him not to hurt her baby, so she had tremendous fear for the baby," said Millar.
Then after hours of unimaginable terror, he finally left her. But not before taking hundreds of photos of his half-naked victim.
"Again, that occurred in Tweed in an area where people think they're so safe. But someone was out there," said Cal Millar.
And was about to do it again. Just 13 days later police received a frantic 911 call. It's from another Tweed resident. The female caller is hysterical. She explains she's calling from her couch where she's still tied up and partially nude. The woman's name is Laurie Massicotte. Like the other victim, Massicotte is also sleeping when the assault begins.
"He punched her in the face," said Robertson.
And her account of what happened sounds eerily familiar.
"He stripped her and fondled her again like the first victim," said Robertson.
And then what appears to be the intruder's signature move.
"He set up his cameras and took a great number of pictures," said Robertson.
Still Tweed investigators aren't sure the two incidents are related. They even speculate the possibility of a copycat situation.
"There was actually some doubt that Laurie was actually a victim, whether she was creating her own situation and calling for attention," said Millar.
But when Laurie Massicotte files a complaint against police, they quickly change their tune and begin to take her story more seriously. In fact, Massicotte gives the Ontario Provincial Police their first big lead in the case.
"Laurie Massicotte thought the voice that she was hearing of the man she could not see sounded very much like Larry Jones," said Ian Robertson.
Larry Jones is a longtime resident of Tweed -- and he just happens to be is Massicotte's neighbor.
"They told me that I may be a suspect for the two assaults down the road, and I said 'You got to be kidding,'" said Jones.
Police are now investigating two violent sexual assaults that appear to be the work of one sadistic suspect.
One 21-year-old victim was tied up, blindfolded and held captive for more than two hours while the suspect forced her into sexual acts and photographed her.
Cops in Southern Ontario, Canada are working overtime to catch a creep. They're frantically looking for a pervert preying on women living alone. Two of his targets were in the town of Tweed. Both of them were sexually assaulted, but their degradation didn't end there. He had a camera and he took photographs. Laurie Massicotte was one of the first victims. She survived a vile and violent attack.
"She was held captive and sexually abused by him, and she has a horrific story to tell," said Cal Millar.
One that includes a detail about the attacker's voice. Massicotte tells police it sounded like her neighbor Larry Jones.
"He was investigated, he was asked to take a lie-detector test, they took fingerprints, DNA and interrogated him at length as a potential suspect," said Millar. "He couldn't account for himself."
Larry Jones is free to go for now -- but without an alibi, cops couldn't clear him. He remained a suspect.
Then, as suddenly as the break-ins began, they stopped. But the town of Tweed is still on pins and needles, wondering if the terror is over or the twisted attacker is just catching his breath. Then the community's fears are realized again, and it's gotten even worse. Could this pervert now be a killer? After two months of silence, a man in the Ontario suburb of Brighton makes a grisly discovery. It's his girlfriend.
"She was found dead in her bedroom. It was blood-stained, it was obviously a violent, violent attack," said Ian Robertson.
The victim is identified as 38-year-old Marie-France Comeau. She was a corporal working at the nearby Trenton Canadian Air Force Base.
"She was a longtime Air Force staffer. She worked as a steward on aircraft," said Ian Robertson.
Despite her military training, she couldn't defend herself.
"He had brutally sexually assaulted her, she fought back very, very strongly according to all the evidence the police were able to determine, forensically and pathologically, she fought back for life," said Robertson.
Police look at her ex-boyfriend as a possible suspect. They had recently broken things off before the attack.
"There were no suspects other than her boyfriend who arrived and found the body, and was interviewed," said Cal Millar. "Still wide open."
Marie-France's ex-boyfriend is eventually cleared by police. Then just a few weeks later, a 27-year-old Belleville woman named Jessica Lloyd vanishes.
"She didn't show up to work on a Friday morning," said Andy Lloyd, Jessica's brother.
Jessica's brother Andy knows right away something is terribly wrong.
"Red flags went up, because it was not like her," Lloyd said.
But just hours after the Belleville woman was reported missing, a tip had come in from a cop who recalls something strange from the day before Jessica Lloyd disappeared.
"A Belleville city police officer driving by on a routine patrol passed Jessica's home prior to her abduction, had spotted the SUV parked in a field next to her home," said Ian Robertson.
The officer knocked on Jessica's door, but no one appeared to be home, so she left. Before leaving the cop carefully takes down a description of the SUV and the odd place it was parked. From there, Jessica's brother Andy decides to do a little investigating of his own.
"The police officer who was there gave us permission to go out for a walk and have a look," said Andy Lloyd.
And sure enough, just outside Jessica Lloyd's back door...
"We saw some footprints as well," said Andy Lloyd.
There are two sets of footprints that appear to be from a male and female. Then Andy Lloyd notices something else.
"Tire marks, and led the police officer over to the field where they were, so they actually had tire impressions," said Cal Millar.
"Within a couple hours they had local forensics van there doing footprint markings, measuring footprints, measuring tire tracks," said Andy Lloyd.
And with it being the end of January in Canada, the frigid temps have perfectly preserved the tire and shoe marks left in snow.
"The tire impressions were tested forensically and they came up to a specific type of SUV, so they set up a roadblock, one looking for that type of SUV," said Millar.
A special unit is called in to work the roadblock.
"It was a life and death race to find her alive," said Millar.
The first car to go through the police checkpoint doesn't meet their criteria. The driver is waved on. Then a second vehicle approaches -- it's an SUV. The officers' interest is piqued -- until the driver rolls down his window.
"Probably one of the most upstanding individuals you would ever think of," said Millar.
The man behind the wheel is hardly a criminal. In fact, he's a colonel. Colonel Russell Williams is the base commander of the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario. CFB is Canada's largest military air base.
"Colonel Russell Williams was a rising star in the Canadian military," said Ian Robertson.
Colonel Russell Williams served as the pilot for the Queen and the Prime Minister of England, and flew many other dignitaries when they would visit Canada.
"The police officers at the roadblock discounted him as any possible suspect. He was beyond reproach," said Cal Millar.
But since the colonel is driving an SUV similar to the one in question, the officers at the checkpoint perform a quick routine inspection.
"One officer was talking with him while another Ontario Provincial Police officer was taking a molding of the tires of his SUV," said Robertson.
Then after that, he drove through no problem.
But because at 27-year-old woman's life was on the line, all the tire-tread impressions taken at the checkpoint, including the highly respected colonel's, are processed.
"There were officers waiting at a command center, real-time, to develop any evidence that they could on suspects," said Millar.
And when they compare Colonel Williams' tire tracks to those discovered near the missing girl's home, jaws drop.
"They came back as being the same vehicle," said Cal Millar.
"[Russell Williams] was the commander of Canada's largest military base, 8,000 personnel under him," said journalist and author Cal Millar. "He was a pilot that flew missions around the world. He flew the queen on visits to Canada."
Despite his pristine reputation, the decorated colonel is called in for questioning.
Ontario Provincial Police Detective-Sergeant Jim Smyth reads Colonel Russell Williams his rights and then quickly gets down to business.
Smyth: "Jessica Lloyd is one of four cases that we're currently investigating, OK? Over the past about four or five months, there have been four occurrences. In a nutshell, that's what we wanted to talk to you about, OK? Because essentially there's a connection between you and all four of those cases. Would you agree, geographically?"
Williams: "In that I guess I drive past, yes. I would have to say there's a connection there, yes."
Colonel Russell Williams has two residences: a new home in Ottawa and a cottage in Tweed. And Tweed just happens to be the same place where two of the vicious sexual assaults took place. Coincidence?
Smyth: "I believe you're a door or two down from one of those two incidents in Tweed."
Williams: "Three doors down, yeah. Very close, absolutely."
And then the detective asks the military man for his help.
Smyth: "What would you be willing to give me today to help me move past you in this investigation?"
Williams: "What do you need?"
Smyth: "Well, would you be willing to supply things like fingerprints, blood samples, things like that?"
Williams: "Sure. Yeah."
Smyth: "Footwear impressions."
Smyth: "OK. I'm going to step out and make sure they're still available."
"Detective-Sergeant Smyth left the room, on occasion, he went out and conferred with his colleagues as to what was happening," said Ian Robertson.
And what is happening outside the interrogation doors is an army of cops are assembling. There are 60 to 70 investigators gathering and processing evidence in real time, and real quickly. In fact, each time Col. Williams reveals something potentially incriminating...
"They were ready to search," said Cal Millar. "And as he was talking about different things, they were able to then execute the warrants, so as they're talking to him, they're at his house, they've got his car."
And almost immediately, the results are in on the first piece of explosive evidence. It's confirmed: the tires markings from the colonel's vehicle and the ones discovered in the field next to Jessica's home are an exact match. Detective Smyth goes back into the interrogation room armed with the damning details.
Smyth: "What kind of tires do you have on your Pathfinder?"
Williams: "I think they're Toyo."
Smyth: "Would it surprise you to know that when the CSI officers were looking around her property that they identified a set of tire tracks to the north of her property? They identified those tires as the same tires on your Pathfinder."
"The investigator thought Williams would say 'I loaned my car to someone,' he would clear himself just instantly, but he didn't. He just kept talking," said Millar.
Williams: "If that's the case, that's very surprising."
Then crime scene investigators process the shoe impressions found outside Jessica Lloyd's home and compare them with the very same boots the colonel was wearing in his interview.
"The investigator looked at his shoes, he asked if he could look at the shoes, took them out, did a comparison," said Millar.
And in a matter of minutes the results are back, and so is Detective Smyth.
Smyth: "The problem is, Russell, is every time I walk out of this room, there's another issue that comes up, OK. And it's not issues that point away from you, it's issues that point at you, OK. This is a photocopy of the boot that you took off your foot just a little while ago. These are identical."
Next the detective puts all of his cards on the table.
Smyth: "Your vehicle drove up the side of Jessica Lloyd's house. Your boots walked to the back of Jessica Lloyd's house. You and I both know you were at Jessica Lloyd's house, and I need to know why."
Williams: "Well, I don't know what to say. It's..."
Smyth: "Well you need to explain it because this is the other problem we're having, Russell, OK? Right now there's a search warrant being executed at your residence in Ottawa, OK. So your wife now knows what's going on. There's a search warrant being executed at the residence in Tweed and your vehicle's been seized. OK?"
At this point in the multi-hour interview, DNA has already been recovered at all four of the victims' residences.
Smyth: "When that evidence comes in and that DNA match, when that phone rings and somebody knocks on this door, your credibility is gone. Russell."
Williams: "Call me Russ, please. "
"When he was broken, he said 'Call me Russ,' so he knew the detective-sergeant investigating him knew that he had brought him down, and at that point the interrogation turns very different," said Millar.
Williams: "It's hard to believe this is happening. Now I'm struggling with how upset my wife is right now."
Smyth: "Russ, what are you looking for?"
Williams: "I'm concerned that they're tearing apart my wife's brand new house."
"They had a warrant for the dream home, which turned out to be the key thing that broke Williams. 'Please don't bother my wife by searching the dream home,'" said Ian Robertson.
Williams: "I want to minimize the impact on my wife."
Smyth: "So do I."
Williams: "So how do we do that?"
Smyth: "Well, you start by telling the truth."
Smyth: "OK. So where is she?"
Williams: "You got a map?"
On the outside, Commander Russell Williams was the perfect military man, even trusted to fly the prime minister. However, Williams was living a dark double life.
Russell Williams: "I raped her in her house and then I took her to the car."
Decorated Canadian Forces Colonel Russell Williams has just confessed to viciously attacking several women and murdering 27-year-old Jessica Lloyd, then dumping her body.
Det.-Sgt. Jim Smyth: "So where am going on here to get to her?"
Williams: "In this spot here. A detailed map of that area and I'll show you where she is."
The cold-blooded colonel calmly sits and points out the general location of what's left of Jessica Lloyd.
While cops race to recover her, Detective Smyth wants to keep Colonel Williams talking. He asks Williams about the two women he sexually assaulted in Tweed -- the 21-year-old young mother and Williams' neighbor Laurie Massicotte.
Williams: "I just hit her with my hand while she was sleeping. Subdued her, mostly just my weight on top of her. Had her take off her pajamas, took some pictures, took some of her underwear and left."
Smyth: "And the other woman?"
Williams: "Same kind of deal. Took off her clothes, took some pictures and left."
Detective Smyth steps outside where investigators are waiting. They brief him on the latest evidence coming in or going out in this case.
During the nearly 10-hour interrogation, the colonel's computer drive was flown to Microsoft in California. Armed with this knowledge, the detective rejoins the colonel inside the interrogation room.
Smyth: "You can't erase things from computers. That's pretty common knowledge these days, it just doesn't happen."
Williams: "I'll tell you where the memory-stick cards are."
Smyth: "Where are they?"
Williams: "They're in the house there, but..."
Smyth: "In Ottawa?"
Smyth: "And whose images are on those cards?"
Williams: "Well, I have erased them, but I expect you'll be able to draw images of Jessica and I."
Williams goes on to tell the detective they will also find images from the two women he sexually assaulted in Tweed.
Smyth: "Russ, you're doing the right thing here, OK."
Williams: "Well, again, my interest is in making my wife's life a little easier."
Smyth: "Why don't we start with Jessica?"
Smyth: "How does that start for you?"
Williams: "Well, I saw her in her house on her treadmill Wednesday night I guess."
Then, by Thursday night, Jessica Lloyd is at home alone in her bed when the colonel strikes.
Williams: "I went through the back patio door while she was sleeping. Well, so I raped her in her house and then I took her to the car and took her to Tweed."
Williams explains how he kidnapped Lloyd and took her to his home in Tweed, where he raped and photographed her, torturing Lloyd for nearly 24 hours, and then promising to let her go. He tells cops it's a promise he never intended to keep.
Williams: "And then as we were walking out, I struck her on the back of the head."
Smyth: "What's the result?"
Williams: "Her skull gave way a little bit, it felt like, and there was a lot of blood, so I think that's what happened. She was immediately unconscious and then I strangled her."
In a matter-of-fact tone, the Russell Williams goes on to describe how he cleaned up his home and stored Jessica Lloyd's body in the garage. Then he does the unimaginable: after committing cold-blooded murder, Colonel Williams says he flew to California on a military mission. It was four days before the colonel returned to Tweed to dump Lloyd's body.
Smyth: "Marie-France Comeau."
Williams: "She actually discovered me in the basement. She was trying to get her cat to come upstairs and the cat was in the basement, had seen me and was fixated on me in the corner."
Williams explains when Comeau investigates what her cat is staring at, she comes face to face with him wearing a mask. Williams says he hit her with a heavy flashlight.
Williams: "Tied her up, brought her upstairs and suffocated her with some tape."
Smyth: "Did you take anything out of Marie-France's house or Jessica Lloyd's house?"
Williams: "Yeah, some of their underwear. That's all."
Not exactly. Microsoft tech experts in California discover thousands of highly secretive and organized files.
"He took photographs and he put everything on his computer," said Cal Millar. "He's got them all cataloged on his computer, he's got a deep-in, password after password."
And when they unlock his password and open his files of photos, the colonel is out of uniform. He's wearing women's underwear.
While investigators continue to restore files on the colonel's computer and try to make sense of the strange snapshots, Det. Jim Smyth pushes for more details about the kinky contents on the military man's hard drive.
Smyth: "What kind of camera are you using, by the way?"
Williams: "It's a digital Sony."
Smyth: "Do you just have the one camera?"
Williams: "Yeah, and the video camera. Yeah, so I was running the video and then taking still pictures, so the video pretty much covers everything."
"While he's doing this to her he actually captured her murder on video," said Millar.
The colonel admits he videotaped the rapes and murders of Jessica Lloyd and Marie-France Comeau. But he also captured something else: sadly, their final words. After more than three hours of brutal sexual assaults, Comeau cried on video, stating, "You're going to kill me aren't you? I don't want to die. I don't deserve to die. I have been good."
And Lloyd's final words were for her mother, saying, "If I die, will you make sure that my mom knows I love her?"
As the interrogation comes to an end, Det. Smyth has one more question for the military man living the ultimate double life.
Smyth: "Is what you told me tonight the truth?"
Smyth: "If for whatever reason you didn't end up on our radar so to speak, do you think it would've happened again?"
Williams: "I was hoping not, but I can't answer that question."
Smyth: "Why do you think these things happened?"
Williams: "I don't know."
Smyth: "Have you spent much time thinking about that?"
Williams: "About why?"
Williams: "Yeah. But I don't know the answers. And I'm pretty sure the answers don't matter."
When the investigation of Colonel Russell Williams is over, police agencies from Ottawa, Orleans, Belleville and Tweed discovered that the decorated military man took panty-thievery to the next level, with 82 break-ins during just two years. Many of the houses belonged to his friends and neighbors and even the most innocent of residents.
"They belonged to young women as young as a neighbor's 12-year-old daughter," said Ian Robertson.
But the colonel didn't just save snapshots of himself and his victims wearing lingerie on his computer. He also saved them in real-life in a secret room.
"During the break-ins, he was collecting underwear, and I mean criminals do collect trophies, and these literally were crime trophies that he was collecting. He started putting them in a room in his house and basically they were filling up," said Millar. "There were hundreds and hundreds of pieces of lingerie that he'd gathered."
The disgraced colonel is arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two brutal sexual assaults, plus 82 breaking-and-entering and theft-related charges.
The once-model military man is sentenced to two terms of life in prison with no chance of parole.
Two months after his sentence, Russell Williams' wife filed for divorce. She maintains that she knew nothing about his secret and deadly double life.