Jessica Lloyd's family asks why

Jessica Lloyd's brother paints a picture of a happy, vivacious woman, 27, and a family now struggling to cope with her loss in an exclusive interview with The National.

As colonel awaits trial, Belleville homicide victim remembered as vivacious, witty

Jessica Lloyd's brother paints a picture of a happy, vivacious woman, 27, and a family now struggling to cope with her loss in an exclusive interview with CBC News: The National.

"Very witty [with a] sense of humour, definitely," Andy Lloyd said of his sister in an interview with the CBC's Susan Ormiston. "You ask anybody that knew her, and it'd be a sense of humour that'd be No. 1," he said.

Family memories

View a photo gallery of Jessica Lloyd's family pictures.

Jessica Lloyd was the focus of an intense search when she disappeared in late January from her Belleville, Ont., home after going out with friends. On Feb. 8, Col. Russell Williams — then the base commander of CFB Trenton and a prominent figure in the area — was charged with first-degree murder in her death. Her body had been discovered the previous day.

"[She was] probably one of the most social people I knew," Lloyd said.

An excerpt of their conversation is available in the video player above.

While family members have been touched by the outpouring of emotion for Jessica and are impressed with the amount of work by police and community members, they are still haunted by the seemingly random nature of the crime, Lloyd said.

"The big one is, you know, what happened?" he said. "I think that's on everybody's mind right now is what happened .… There's obviously a lot of things that will come out, but why would be a good question," he said.

And they realize that the legal process is likely to be long. "We'll just keep going back to family and friends for support," Lloyd said. "I’m sure that’s how we’ll get through."

He says that after 10 days of hoping, searching and praying, the family was advised by police that Jessica's body had been found, and a man had been charged in connection with her slaying on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 7.

But the family didn't hear that it was Williams who had been charged with first-degree murder until a media release was issued the following day.

Although he understands why police couldn't divulge more information at the time, and is thankful for the diligent police work done on his sister's case, Lloyd said: "They didn't tell us anything regarding who had been arrested. It was just, 'We have a suspect in custody,' and they told us she was gone … and said that there would be a press release the following day."

'It hit the whole family pretty hard'

Although the family has experienced myriad emotions in the nearly two months since his sister's disappearance, the Sunday when they received the grim news was definitely the lowest point of all, Lloyd said.

"It hit the whole family pretty hard," Lloyd said. "Because it was final, and … it was the resolution that nobody wanted."

Despite speculation to the contrary, Lloyd says he does not believe that his sister and the man accused in her death had any prior involvement with each other.

The death of Jessica Lloyd in February 'hit the whole family pretty hard,' Andy Lloyd says.

Among the unsubstantiated rumours that have been presented are that the two may have met previously at a local pub, or perhaps their mutual interest in cars caused them to cross paths. None of those notions, however, holds any water with the Lloyd family.

"People are putting two and two together and they're making 10 all of a sudden," Lloyd said. "Anything's possible, but I highly, highly doubt it .… We have no indication that she even laid eyes on him before."

Williams maintains a home in Tweed, a town northeast of Belleville. Jessica Lloyd was familiar with the town, having frequently visited friends there, but her brother rejects the possibility they might have met in Tweed.

"The only coincidence is she lived on the highway where he drove by every day, obviously on his way home. So as far as we know, that's the only connection," Lloyd said.

Among the other details to emerge in the interview is that the Lloyds' father was himself a military man, a 25-year veteran of the Canadian navy. The family lived on CFB Uplands, a now-defunct base outside Ottawa, until Jessica was eight years old in 1990. They then settled in Belleville when the Lloyds' father retired. He died in 1996.

Andy Lloyd was 15 at the time, while Jessica was 13. Losing their father at such young ages brought the two siblings close together, Lloyd said.

Tragedy brought family together

Although they bickered as children, they were very close, he said. "We were always teasing each other quite a bit," he said, "[but] in good fun."

"Even after all this has happened, I'm a lot closer with some of my cousins now," he said. "It's kind of a shame that a tragedy like this brings people together."

In a moment of levity, Lloyd says his sister would have loved the warm wishes the family has been receiving ever since her disappearance, and would have relished all the attention.

"My cousin John and I were joking around the day after we found out," Lloyd said. "Leave it to her to be the biggest news story of the year, which is probably exactly how she would have wanted it."

She loved to be the centre of attention, and one of her favourite phrases was "big time," Lloyd says.

"That's what I said to my cousin: 'You know she's got to be the biggest story of the year, big time.' We actually got a good laugh out of that."