“He’s just a very twisted individual; there’s no two ways about it,” said retired lieutenant-general Angus Watt, who once promoted Williams.
“He was able to lead an elaborate double life and was able to keep it successfully concealed. This was the act of a depraved individual and really has no reflection on the men and women of the Canadian Forces.”
The disgraced cross-dressing commander of Canada’s largest air force base pleaded guilty on Monday to 86 lurid sex crimes, including two murders that “stunned” the military.
Colonel Russell Williams, 47, a married pilot who once flew the jet used to ferry Canada’s prime minister as well as the British royal family on a visit, displayed no emotion as he admitted to his crimes in a courtroom in Belleville, Ontario.
Williams was a rising star who was being groomed for top leadership roles in the military.
As the commander of 8-Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton, he oversaw relief flights to quake-stricken Haiti, the repatriation of dead soldiers from Afghanistan, and Arctic search and rescue missions.
Williams commanded Canada’s busiest air force base, the 437 Squadron in Trenton, east of Toronto, for more than a year before his arrest. Previously he was in charge of Canada’s secretive Camp Mirage in Dubai.
Police arrested Williams in February for the disappearance and death of 27-year-old Jessica Lloyd, last heard from the previous month. He was caught when his vehicle’s tyre treads were matched at a police roadside checkpoint to tracks at the crime scene.
The stolen lingerie was meticulously categorised and stored in bags and boxes discovered at his Ottawa home, which he shared with his wife of 19 years. The court heard that he periodically disposed of the loot when he had accumulated too much.
His criminal fetish escalated in late 2009 when he attacked his first victim, waking her from a deep slumber, tying and blindfolding her, and then snapping a half-dozen photographs of her semi-naked in her home.
He would later recount the assault in a two-page document saved on his computer.
Williams was expressionless and dressed in a sombre dark suit and grey button-down shirt, and he kept his head down as the charges were read.
The list of charges was so long it took nearly 40 minutes to read it into the record.
Williams responded to each charge: “Guilty, your honour.”
The court heard that only 17 homeowners had reported their homes had been broken into, while Williams’s other burglaries went undetected prior to his arrest and confession to police.
Williams was later charged with the murder of Marie Comeau, a female corporal under his command at the Trenton military base in November last year.
Both women were asphyxiated.
He was also charged with two home invasions in which two women were confined and sexually assaulted.
He was also charged with an additional 82 counts of break-and-enter and attempted break-and-enter in Ottawa, Belleville and Tweed.
A stash of women’s undergarments taken by police from Williams’s residence were linked to burglaries near his home and job.While in prison, he attempted suicide and held a hunger strike, but co-operated fully with investigators. He faces life in prison, with no possibility of parole for at least 25 years.