Written by: Stephen Metelsky (Pseudonym: Stephen G. Boyle)
CRIME FLASHBACK Column – Niagara This Week, 2012
The sociopath has no regard for the adverse consequences of their own behaviour. The narcissistic sociopath has a unique ability to blend in seamlessly amongst their family, friends and co-workers. They can assimilate themselves in different types of social settings, typically without raising any suspicions about their true inner identity.
The sociopath has an innate ability to separate their secret criminal tendencies from the normative images they project during the course of their public social lives, truly reminiscent of the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ persona. This was excruciatingly evident with Colonel Russell Williams, the commander of CFB Trenton, Canada’s largest air force base. During the day, Williams projected the aura of legitimacy as the high ranking commander in charge of 3,000 people. In 2005 Williams even piloted a plane that carried Queen Elizabeth II. However, when Williams was not commanding the base, he was prowling by night, searching for his next potential victim.
Williams did not become a killer overnight. His progression to killing entailed a methodical escalation initially involving various acts of voyeurism. Once these acts became mundane, William’s deviant behaviour escalated to the point where he was breaking into the homes of women he had been covertly stalking. Most of these break-ins occurred overnight, sometimes with the victims inside their homes. Initially, William’s intent was to break in to steal women’s clothing and take photographs in order to satisfy a twisted and escalating sexual obsession. This obsession spiraled out of control as William’s began committing riskier crimes to curtail his insatiable and demented obsession.
The deviant escalation of a predator’s method of operation, is quite common amongst serial offenders. Serial predators initially commit petty crimes that are minor in nature, such as mischief or voyeurism. The tedium of committing particular offences eventually involves an escalation to riskier more violent crimes. The boredom propels the offender
to take more risks as their levels of deviance and confidence thrive. Another commonality amongst these serial predators is the acquisition of a trophy. A trophy represents a tangible item the predator takes from a particular victim so they can relive the crime incessantly until the urge to strike again surfaces. The serial predator will photograph or videotape their crimes. This profile fit the modus operandi of Colonel Williams. It is almost a carbon copy of what transpired with killer Paul Bernardo. Ironically, Williams and Bernardo have been linked to the University of Toronto where both had studied economics during the mid-1980’s at the Scarborough campus. However, there is no evidence to suggest a criminal linkage between them.
After breaking into the homes of various women and assaulting them, William’s violent behaviour escalated to murder. He committed the most heinous act on two separate occasions. One of the victims was a corporal from the CFB Trenton air force base where Williams reigned supreme. The split diabolic persona of Williams enabled a segue from his midnight murderous ways to his daytime responsibilities as a husband and commander without raising suspicion. However, his secretive world was to become unraveled through forensic evidence collected at one of the murder scenes.
In February 2010, police began an intense investigation after the murder of Jessica Lloyd. Early on during the investigation police located and retrieved a valuable piece of forensic evidence from the murder scene. A distinct set of tire tread marks was detected by crime scene investigators. The tread marks were measured, photographed and catalogued as evidence. On February 4, 2010 police had set up a proactive roadside checkpoint, patiently and methodically checking vehicles as they strolled down the snow covered roads. Williams came to a complete stop in his SUV, unfazed this would represent the catalyst to his unraveling murderous double life. Police were immediately intrigued by the tread patterns on the tires of Williams’ SUV, again a very distinct set of treads that left an even more distinct impression on the surface it traveled on.
The tread pattern appeared to be very similar to the pattern located at the scene of the Lloyd homicide. The roadside query led to the identity of Williams. The Ontario Provincial Police arranged for Williams to be interviewed a few days later.
Most predators eventually slip up and leave valuable forensic evidence behind at a particular crime scene. When Williams showed up for his interview with the Ontario Provincial Police on Feb. 7, 2010 he brazenly wore the same rugged pair of boots that had left distinct footwear impressions at the Lloyd homicide scene. The footwear impressions were detected entering and leaving the crime scene ending where the distinct tire tread impressions began. Williams appeared confident as he vehemently and casually denied any association to the two homicide victims. During the interview he even consented to a comparison of his boots with the footwear impressions located at the Lloyd crime scene. They were an exact match. When Williams was confronted with
the damning forensic evidence his legitimate world imploded as the dark secrets of his double life spilled outward. Williams requested a map to pinpoint where he had concealed one of his victims, initializing a startling confession.
Williams was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of sexual assault and forcible confinement and 82 break-ins. In October of 2010 Williams pled guilty to all charges. His punishment: an automatic life sentence in prison with no possibility of parole for at least 25 years.
UPDATE: The “Killer Colonel” was initially imprisoned in Kingston, Ontario. Williams has been transferred and is now incarcerated in a maximum security prison in Quebec, Canada.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stephen G. Metelsky, M.A. is a freelance crime writer/journalist, criminologist, organized crime expert (CBC, Hamilton Spectator, Niagara Falls Review, St. Catharines Standard, Global News, AM 680, 980 News, 900 CHML, Newstalk 1010 & Blue Line magazine) & college professor, with over 20 years as a police (ret.) sergeant.
Stephen is a contributing columnist with Blue Line magazine and has covered true crime stories for various newspapers affiliated with Metroland Media Group & Postmedia Network Inc.
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Follow on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-g-metelsky-m-a-830553155
Article first published: 2012