Williams's murder victims pleaded for their lives
WARNING: This story contains disturbing sexual and violent details and images
Both of Col. Russell Williams's murder victims — Jessica Lloyd and Cpl. Marie-France Comeau — desperately pleaded for their lives before he killed them, a court hearing in Belleville, Ont., heard Tuesday.
On Monday, Williams pleaded guilty to 88 charges, including first-degree murder in the deaths of Lloyd and Comeau, as well as sexual assault, and breaking and entering. He faces at least 25 years in prison with no chance of parole for the murders. He was formally convicted on all charges Tuesday.
The evidence presented at the hearing in Ontario Superior Court painted a stark contrast between Williams as a sexual predator and killer and his alter ego, a rising military star. At 47, he was the decorated commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario.
I don't want to die, please... If I die, will you make sure my mom knows that I love her?
Lloyd, 27, died after Williams strangled her with a rope. He had repeatedly sexually assaulted her and abducted her from her home north of Belleville.
In addition to videotaping his confinement and sexual assault of Lloyd, as he did with Comeau, Williams also took hundreds of photographs of the women.
Crown lawyer Lee Burgess fought back his own tears Tuesday as he described Williams's attack on Lloyd.
Williams and Lloyd did not know each other, court heard. Williams told police he first noticed her in January 2010 when he was driving by her home and saw her on her treadmill through a window.
Williams went to Lloyd's home on Jan. 29, and waited in her backyard for her to go to sleep before entering her bedroom. Once inside, he bound her with rope and placed duct tape on her face.
He took photos of her after forcing her to model her own lingerie. Three witnesses who passed the house saw an SUV parked there for several hours that night.
After three hours, Williams forced Lloyd into his vehicle, giving her repeated assurances he would let her go if she co-operated. She was blindfolded and Williams drove them in his SUV to his Cosy Cove Lane home in Tweed.
Once there, he made her shower. Williams told police he let her sleep for a few hours and that at one point, she had a seizure. She pleaded for her life and asked to be taken to the hospital.
The videotape Williams made shows him standing Lloyd up, dressing her and untying the rope as she continued to convulse.
Lloyd cried desperately, her voice cracking as she said: "I don't want to die, please."
She continued crying as Williams pulled her sweater over her head and said: "If I die, will you make sure my mom knows that I love her?"
At this point, some family and friends in court Tuesday gasped, "Jesus." Many wept loudly.
Burgess said Williams killed Lloyd by striking her on the head with a flashlight and then strangling her with rope until she stopped moving. Williams then drove back to CFB Trenton around 10 p.m. and slept at the base because he had to catch an early flight to California.
He returned later to continue working in his office and then went to Ottawa. When he finally returned home, he dumped Lloyd's body. She was found in a field on Carey Road in Tweed, bound with duct tape.
Court heard how police came to suspect Williams after he drove through a checkpoint they had set up on Feb. 4, 2010. The tire tread of Williams's SUV matched tire tracks found outside Lloyd's home.
On Feb. 7, just 4½ hours after Williams came to the police station for an interview, he declined a lawyer and confessed to all of the attacks, telling police where they would find Lloyd's body.
He also told them they would find evidence and photos of the attacks in his Ottawa home. Police had told him they were commencing searches of his two homes in Ottawa and Tweed.
Williams told police he would plead guilty to all the charges to minimize the impact on his wife and avoid amassing a large legal bill. Williams also said his sexual obsession was a recent development. Although he felt a compulsion to steal female underwear in his 20s or 30s, he did not act on it. He also expressed concern about his military pension.
On Wednesday, Williams's sentencing hearing will begin with the Crown playing an edited version of his 10½-hour confession tape and presenting victim impact statements. The Crown estimates the hearing will wrap up on Thursday.
In speaking to reporters after court, Burgess said he had struggled to determine what evidence to put before the court after spending eight months reading and sifting through Williams's meticulous cataloguing of his crimes.
Burgess said it was important to put a substantial amount of information on the record to ensure that 25 years in the future, when Williams is up for parole, the parole board will be able to properly assess his risk to the community.
Earlier Tuesday, the court heard how Comeau died after Williams placed duct tape over her nose and mouth and after he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Comeau, 38, was under Williams's charge at CFB Trenton.
Lloyd's mother, Roxanne, and her brother, Andy, left the court before the presentation of the facts of Comeau’s death. Many of the closest friends and wide circle of family also left in the afternoon to avoid hearing details about Lloyd's death.
Crown prosecutors said that on Nov. 16, 2009, Williams broke into Comeau's home through a basement window and confirmed she lived alone.
He returned several days later and hid in the basement. Comeau had just arrived home from a trip. She did not go to bed, but instead came downstairs in search of one of her cats. She noticed Williams while down there.
Comeau yelled and Williams struck her with a flashlight. The two struggled and Williams tied her to a pole, court heard. Williams covered her face and mouth with duct tape and took photos of her. He later took her upstairs.
Covering Col. Williams
Williams repeatedly sexually assaulted Comeau over nearly two hours, taking video images and still photographs. Comeau pleaded with Williams to untie her and let her go.
"I want to live so badly," Comeau said on the videotape. Williams asked her something that sounded like: "Did you expect to?" and she mumbled: "Yes."
Comeau said: "Give me a chance. I'll be so good … please."
An autopsy showed she suffered at least five blows to the head and Williams continued to photograph her as she struggled for breath.
Comeau appeared to suffocate when Williams put duct tape over her nose. He continued to take photos of Comeau after she died. He then cleaned up the crime scene with bleach, placed her on the bed and left with her lingerie.
Then Williams drove to Ottawa to attend a meeting. Comeau's body was found Nov. 25 by her boyfriend.
Friends and family members of the victims in the courtroom had their eyes downcast as the evidence was read. Some were in tears.
Sexual assault of neighbour
On Tuesday morning, Crown prosecutors detailed evidence in Williams's sexual assault and confinement of his neighbour, Laurie Massicotte. Williams broke into Massicotte's home in Tweed, Ont., on Sept. 30, 2009. He tied her up and took photos of the assault.
Massicotte successfully applied to have the publication ban on her identity lifted, telling CBC News she wants to be free to speak out publicly about the assault as part of her personal healing.
Crown prosecutors said Massicotte told police she awoke to someone hitting her on the head. Williams blindfolded her. At one point, he left to get her painkillers for her headache. Williams made multiple mentions of wanting to photograph her, she said.
Police received her 911 call at 5 a.m. and she was still blindfolded when they arrived.
Police were unable to identify Massicotte's attacker until Feb. 7, during their interview with Williams.
Williams said he did not know Massicotte prior to the assault. He told police he chose her because he knew she lived alone. Williams was in her home for more than two hours. He had three folders of photographs on his computer that graphically depict the assault.
Williams said that after the 2½-hour sexual assault, he went home, went to bed and went to work the next day as usual. Before the assault, Williams had broken into Massicotte's home on two separate occasions, court heard.
88 guilty pleas
Williams was arraigned on the murder charges before Judge Robert F. Scott on Monday. Wearing a dark suit and grey button-down shirt, he quietly pleaded: "Guilty, your honour." He pleaded guilty en masse to the other 86 charges.
Crown attorneys then began a long process of revealing its case against Williams, who sat with his head down for most of the proceedings as some of his victims and victims' family members looked on.
An agreed statement of facts read out in court traced the chronology and escalation of Williams's offences, from the theft of women's and girls' underwear from their homes to the killings.
The evidence includes thousands of photographs Williams took of himself during and after the break-ins, which occurred at a total of 48 Ontario homes in or around Belleville, Tweed and Orleans.
In some of the photos, he poses or masturbates while wearing girls' underwear. In others, he is seen wearing girls' underwear and parts of what the Crown said appears to be his Canadian military uniform.
With files from the CBC's Dave Seglins and Amber Hildebrandt