More than three hours into his interrogation, when Col. Russell Williams knew he was caught, he worried about what was happening to his wife and their “brand new house.”
Det. Sgt. Jim Smyth, part of the Ontario Provincial Police behavioural-sciences unit, had slowly and steadily brought Williams to the realization that they knew. About the two sexual assaults of his neighbours. About the murders of Jessica Lloyd 10 days before and Marie-France Comeau two months before.
He’d come in confidently at 3 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2010, to the police interrogation room in Ottawa, the court heard Wednesday on the third day of Williams’ hearing on 88 criminal charges.
He was wearing a striped T-shirt and jeans and chewing gum. He’d spent the morning disposing of stolen clothing.
He accepted Smyth’s offer of coffee, declined his offer of a lawyer. He agreed to a DNA test.
He smiled into the camera when he told Smyth it was his first police interview. The courtroom, filled with family and media, groaned.
Nearly three hours later, the smile was gone. Smyth told him his tire tracks and boot prints matched those at Lloyd’s house.
“Really?!” he responded.
On the video, his head moved back and forth, like a tennis match, between his footwear impression and the footprints from the property.
“These are identical,” said Smyth. “Your vehicle drove up to Jessica Lloyd’s house. Your boots walked up to (her) house. You and I both know you were at Jessica Lloyd’s house, and I need to know why.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Williams said.
Smyth told him police were searching his Tweed home.
“Your wife now knows what’s going on,” Smyth said. Williams stared at the table.
“When that phone rings (and the DNA matches comes in), your credibility is gone.”
Williams has one option, Smyth said. “What option?” Williams asked. “I don’t think you want the cold-blooded-psychopath option.”
“What are we going to?” Smyth asked. Williams sat still, arms crossed, silent for a long time.
“Call me Russ, please,” he said.
“OK. What are we going to do, Russ? Is Jessica somewhere where we can find her easily?”
A long silence, a sigh. “It’s hard to believe this is happening,” Russell said. The time stamp on the video being played in the courtroom is 18:22 p.m.
In the courtroom, Williams slumped over, head hanging low, on a wooden chair in the prisoner’s box.
“I’m concerned that they’re tearing apart my wife’s brand new house,” Williams told Smyth on the interrogation tape.
The family of Jessica Lloyd, 30 strong in the courtroom, gasps. As they would again, when he said, “This place, it’s been my wife’s dream.”
Why did he attack two women and murder two others? The colonel had thought about it.
“But I don’t know the answers, and I’m pretty sure the answers don’t matter.”
Lloyd seemed “a very nice girl,” he said. He didn’t know any of the four women.
Lloyd and Comeau died, he said, because they knew he took pictures. That could be “a pretty straight line” to him: Police knew the sexual assailant took pictures.
As her commanding officer, Williams knew Comeau’s schedule, he admitted. He knew that the military flight attendant lived alone.
Why her? “I don’t know.”
She called out, “You bastard!” when she found him hiding in her basement, Williams confessed. His voice is steady and calm on the video, his eyes averted.
Williams admitted that when the interrogation started, the only hard evidence police had was the tire track outside the Belleville house of Jessica Lloyd.
He told them everything, starting with Lloyd. She died the night of Jan. 29, Friday, 24 hours after her torture started. Her body was dumped on Feb. 2, just 40 feet from the road, a spot he showed them on a Google map.
“I raped her in her house and then I put her in my car and took her to Tweed,” he said. “Then I hit her as we were walking. She thought we were leaving. I hit her on the back of the head.”
Then he strangled her.
He took about 60 pieces of lingerie from Lloyd and Comeau. He answered detectives’ questions calmly, with no expression but a frown.
He drew a diagram of his house so police could find the thousands of images he took, of Lloyd and Comeau and the two women he sexually assaulted.
The interview went on to about 1:30 a.m. Feb. 8, when Williams led officers to Lloyd’s body, where he’d dumped it 10 days earlier in woods by a country road.
Williams had broken into that house on Jan. 28 and began the hours of torture, rape and abduction that would end in the strangulation death of the 27-year-old woman at the colonel’s cottage in Tweed.
Smyth, who worked on the investigation into the disappearance of Woodstock schoolgirl Tori Stafford, had told Williams early in the interrogation: “Essentially, there is a connection. Between you. And all four of these cases.” Williams denied it.
“No, I didn’t hear her name until it was on the news,” Williams says when asked if he knew Lloyd.
He met Comeau on a military flight, Williams said. Military police learned of her death “quite a bit after her body was discovered.”
Comeau’s boyfriend found the bruised and bloody corpse under a duvet on her bed on Nov. 25, 2009, where Williams left her after hours of beatings and rape to attend a meeting in Gatineau, Que., about buying C-17 military transport planes.
Is there anything in Williams’ background that would lead anyone to suspect him? Smyth asked early in their nine-hour session. An edited version, under three hours, was being played in court.
“Absolutely not. Nope,” he replied. “It would be very boring.”
When Smyth asked for fingerprints, Williams offered that he prefers Law & Order, but watchesCSI occasionally.
His second sexual assault victim, Laurie Massicotte, had been watching Law & Order when he broke into her house Sept. 30, 2009.
When the questioning started, Williams had asked: “Can I assume you’re going to be discreet? It’s tough to undo the rumour mill once it gets started. Because it will have an impact on the base if they assume I did this.”
Would there be a reason his DNA might be in any of the four homes, a reason like a secret affair? Smyth asked.
Williams chuckled. “Absolutely not.”