Williams admitted to killing Comeau, Lloyd
WARNING: This story contains disturbing sexual and violent details and images
Col. Russell Williams admitted to raping and strangling Jessica Lloyd and raping and suffocating Cpl. Marie France-Comeau, and couldn't say whether he would do it again, in a videotaped statement to police that was played in a court in Belleville, Ont., on Wednesday.
Williams, 47, calmly recounted the gruesome details of his horrific crimes in a 10½-hour interview with police on Feb. 7, 2010, expressing concern only for the impact his actions would have on his wife.
The videotaped interview with the decorated former commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton was shown in Ontario Superior Court Wednesday, as family members and friends of the victims looked on, weeping and gasping at points.
REPLAY: Coverage from the courthouse (Mobile users can view it here )
There were angry guffaws in the courtroom after Williams's response to the question of why he confessed: "Mostly um, to make my wife's life easier," he said.
Williams said while he was disappointed in what he had done, he couldn't say whether it would happen again.
"I was hoping not, but I can't answer the question," Williams said.
He initially grinned on the tape and chewed gum. Crown lawyer Lee Burgess paused on that shot of the grin to convey Williams's "calm demeanour," he told the court.
Williams was formally convicted Tuesday by Justice Robert F. Scott on 88 charges, including first-degree murder in the deaths of Lloyd and Comeau, as well as sexual assault, and breaking and entering.
At the start of the videotaped interrogation by Det. Sgt. Jim Smyth, an Ontario Provincial Police behavioural specialist, Williams was not under arrest and waived his right to a lawyer, saying "Call me Russ, please."
Smyth outlined the four crimes they wanted to question him about, including the killings of Comeau and Lloyd, as well as two sexual assaults.
Several hours later, when Smyth confronted Williams with the fact police were about to search his home in Ottawa and his cottage in Tweed, Ont., he turned from a gum-chewing, grinning murder suspect to a teary-eyed man desperate to protect his wife's home from a destructive police search.
However, Williams initially denied even knowing Lloyd and Comeau. When Smyth asked Williams where he was on the day Lloyd was last seen, he said he was home with the flu.
"I didn't even know her name till I heard about it on the news," Williams said. The officer then turned his questions to the type of tires on Williams's Nissan Pathfinder, as they matched tire tracks found outside Lloyd's home.
When told of the match, Williams replied, "Really?" Family members in court Wednesday gasped after hearing this.
Later, Williams admitted on the tape to abducting, sexually assaulting and strangling Lloyd after hitting her hard on the head with a flashlight.
When asked about Comeau, Williams said he recalled receiving an email about her death and that he had met her only once. When asked where he was the day Comeau went missing, Williams said he was having dinner with his wife, but couldn't quite remember where. He said he 'kissed my wife goodbye and headed back to Tweed.'"
Williams later admitted to hitting Comeau with the same flashlight and suffocating her. On Tuesday, court heard that both women desperately pleaded for their lives before Williams killed them.
On the tape, Williams also said he took about 60 pieces of underwear from both Lloyd and Comeau, which were in the basement of his Ottawa home.
Williams told the officer he didn't know why he targeted either woman, only that he knew each lived alone.
Police told Williams that his boot matched an imprint found near a firepit in the backyard of Lloyd.
Asked for blood sample
When Williams was asked for a blood sample, he pleaded for discretion, mentioning CFB Trenton, where he was commander at the time.
"It's tough to undo the rumour mill once it gets started," said Williams on the tape, looking downward.
When Smyth said the DNA found on Comeau will likely match Williams, Williams nodded and said "Uh-huh," as he stared at the floor. At that point, Smyth said it's "all over" and encouraged Williams to "tell the truth."
Williams was silent when confronted with his crimes, with his arms crossed and staring downward. When Smyth continued to press Williams for information on Lloyd's body, which had not yet been found, Williams finally broke his silence, saying, 'It's hard to believe that this is happening."
The only concern Williams seems to have expressed were for his wife and the Canadian Forces.
"My concerns from my perspective are what my wife must be going through now and the impact this is going to have on the Canadian Forces ... I'm struggling with how upset my wife is now ... I want to minimize the impact on my wife... so what do we do?"
Williams then pinpointed on a map where he dumped Lloyd's body, saying she had been there for about a week. When Smyth asked how long Lloyd was alive, Williams again said his main concern now was to ensure his "wife's life is easier."
Then Williams began offering Smyth more information including that he could find a camera bag and memory cards in his Ottawa office that contain images of his raping and killing Lloyd and Comeau as well as the other sexual assaults.
When Smyth said police would be ripping Williams's Ottawa home apart, Williams said firmly: "This place, my wife, it's been a dream for her," which elicited gasps from the courtroom.
Williams and his wife moved into a new Ottawa home in December 2009, between the two murders.
Williams eventually also told police about the details of his attacks on two sexual assault victims. He said he targeted the second victim, Laurie Massicotte, because she lived alone. "She was worried she was going to be killed. I said, 'I'm not going to kill you,' " Williams said on the tape.
After the assault on Massicotte, who has asked the court to remove a ban on her name, Williams said he went home and slept.
In the attack on the first sexual assault victim, Williams told police, "I assured her I wasn't going to hurt her."
At the end of the interrogation, Williams agreed to write letters to the surviving victims and to family members of Lloyd and Comeau. He also wrote a letter to his wife. Williams then led police to Lloyd's body and told them where to find the cache of photos and videotapes hidden in his Ottawa home.
Det. Insp. Chris Nicholas, the lead OPP investigator on the case, told CBC News earlier that there's no sense of regret during the taped confession.
"I've never seen any remorse from Russ Williams," he said. "Russ Williams entered that interview with complete denials at the start and with a confession at the end."
He noted Williams has written apology letters. "I believe they will be introduced as evidence today, and then, as I say, people can judge whether he's remorseful or not."
Nicholas told CBC News earlier Wednesday the tape was shown "so the court, and people 25 years from now, have a complete understanding of what this person is all about."
He also said the public should ultimately see some of the video, too.
"I think the public has a right to know what's taken place in the court, but it's up to the media to broadcast that if they see fit and it's up to the public to watch it," he said.
The hearing moved into the sentencing phase Wednesday after two days of disturbing evidence. Victim impact statements were read later in the day.
Covering Col. Williams
CBC News executive editor Esther Enkin writes about the challenges of covering these court proceedings.
Victims' families briefed on confession
Family members of the victims, many of whom were in court, had not seen the video confession, but were briefed on its contents beforehand, Nicholas said.
Williams's interrogation took place three days after police had stopped motorists, including Williams, at a checkpoint on Highway 37 near Belleville.
Smyth would later interview Williams on six other occasions over a three-month period after the confession.
With files from Amber Hildebrandt