Police Lay More Charges Against Base Commander
In this Thursday, Feb.18, 2010 artist's sketch, Col. Russell Williams appears in court via a video link in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. Police on Thursday, April 29, 2010 laid an additional 82 burglary-related charges against the former Canadian military
April 30, 2010
BELLEVILLE, Ontario — A former top Canadian military commander and elite pilot accused of murdering two women and sexually assaulting two others has now been charged with 82 counts of burglary, police said Thursday.
Col. Russell Williams, who once flew Queen Elizabeth II and other dignitaries around Canada, was the commander of Canada’s largest Air Force base until he was charged in February with the killings and assaults.
The new accusations were announced before Williams made a brief court appearance via video on the murder and sexual assault charges.
Williams, 47, is charged with the first-degree murder of Jessica Lloyd, 27, whose body was found in February, and Marie Comeau, a 38-year-old corporal under his command who was found dead in her home in November. Both women were asphyxiated.
Authorities said Williams came to the attention of investigators during a police roadblock on Feb. 4, six days after Lloyd was deemed missing.
He is also charged with forcible confinement, breaking and entering and sexual assault after two other women were attacked during two separate home invasions in the Tweed, Ontario area in September 2009.
The Globe and Mail quoted a source close to the investigation as saying that the 82 new burglary charges had to do with Williams stealing women’s lingerie, but Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kristine Rae declined to confirm that.
Court documents say the 82 charges are for repeated break-ins at 47 homes, including one home that was broken into nine times.
Most of the homes were in Ottawa, where Williams has a house, and in the Tweed, Ontario, area, where Williams lived after he was appointed the base commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Trenton, Ontario last July. Trenton is Canada’s busiest Air Force base and provides logistical support for Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
Among the new charges are allegations Williams broke into Comeau’s home days before he is accused of killing her. Another alleges that Williams twice returned to the home of one of his victims to steal items after he allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Rae said are still reviewing other unsolved crimes to see if Williams might have been involved.
Williams appeared before the court in Belleville, Ontario, briefly Thursday via a video link from the Quinte Detention Centre where he is being held in isolation. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and looking haggard, Williams listened as his lawyer requested that the charges not be read in court. The judge conceded and said that Williams would be consenting to further detention.
“Thank you,” he replied.
Williams’ next preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 24 as the defense continues to receive disclosure in the cases.
Williams was once an elite pilot who flew prime ministers and also was the commanding officer of tour flights for the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, during a 2005 visit to Canada.
The Globe and Mail, and local newspaper the Kingston Whig Standard, reported earlier this month that Williams had attempted suicide by jamming a cardboard toilet tissue tube down his throat and was rescued by staff at the Quinte Detention Centre.
The newspapers, citing sources close to the investigation and at the detention centre, said Williams begun a hunger strike soon after the alleged suicide attempt. On Thursday he didn’t appear to have lost weight compared to his previous court appearance in March.
Williams’ lawyer declined to comment on the report and corrections officials have refused to discuss Williams’ case.
In the days following Williams’ arrest, police spent hours combing through his Ottawa home. Officers carrying boxes arrived at the semidetached house and papered over windows.