Police paint portrait of a chilling stalker: CFB Trenton commander faces 82 more charges

Police paint portrait of a chilling stalker: CFB Trenton commander faces 82 more charges
# 01 May 2010 04:35 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. A slew of new charges against Col. Russell Williams paint a portrait of a predator who repeatedly broke into the homes of neighbours and apparently stalked one of the women he’s accused of killing, APA reports quoting “The Toronto Star”.
The alleged break-ins involved incredible stealth: Several of the victims told The Star they did not know their homes had been broken into until police recently notified them. It raises the question of whether Williams told police.
Included in the 82 break-and-enter charges laid Thursday is the Brighton home of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau. Williams is accused of breaking in and stealing personal belongings on Nov. 16, 2009 — eight days before he allegedly killed her.
The chilling stalking pattern appears to have also occurred with a woman Williams is accused of sexually assaulting near his cottage in Tweed. He is charged with breaking into her home twice — Sept. 24 and 26th last year, allegedly stealing personal belongings — before she was attacked in her home on the 30th.
The charges also suggest a compulsion to return to the scene of the crime. He is accused of sexually assaulting a second Tweed woman on Sept. 17, 2009 — then returning the very next night and again on the 22nd to steal belongings.
He is also charged with breaking into one home near his Tweed cottage nine times between April 2008 and August 2009.
“I feel very fortunate,” said the woman who has lived in that home for five years. “A lot of other girls got it a lot worse than me.”
Thirty four of the new charges stemming from break-ins and theft, occurred in Ottawa between May 2008 and July 2009 — all within easy walking distance of the Wilkie Dr. home where Williams lived with his wife Mary Elizabeth Harriman until the end of last July.
Tweed, a sleepy village north of Belleville, was the scene of most of the 46 other new charges. Two involve a home in Belleville and one was Comeau’s home in Brighton. These break-ins began in Sept. 2007 and continued until Nov. 2009.
He is accused of being particularly busy in October 2008 — allegedly breaking into seven Ottawa homes. He’s also accused of a break-in on New Year’s Eve in 2008 and another on New Year’s Day. On Feb. 14, 2009 — Valentine’s Day — he’s accused of an attempted break-in.
Williams bought his cottage in Tweed in 2004. He spent most weekdays in 2009 at the cottage and weekends in Ottawa with his wife,
Williams asked that the fresh charges not be read out as he made his third court appearance in Belleville via video link Thursday morning.
“Thank you,” said Williams, 47, looking straight into the camera as his case was put over for two months.
He stood straight and rolled his shoulders several times during the five-minute appearance. He appeared healthy for a man who had reportedly tried to kill himself in his cell at the Quinte Detention Centre and had stopped eating.
In February, the former commander of CFB Trenton was charged with murdering two women — Jessica Elizabeth Lloyd, 27, of Belleville and Comeau, 38 — and sexually assaulting two more in home-invasion-style break-ins.
Ottawa victims of the break-ins told eerily similar stories — backyard windows methodically, almost surgically removed and, in some cases, neatly replaced. The thief left little or no trace.
One woman whose home Williams allegedly robbed says the thief stole one bra and at least five pairs of underwear in the spring of 2008.
The woman didn’t call police until much later, when she saw her backyard window was missing its screen. They told her they were investigating a series of similar break-ins in the neighbourhood, where only women’s underwear and sex toys were stolen.
In October of 2008, Ottawa police publicly warned neighbourhood residents of the rash of fetish break-ins. A police spokesman confirmed Thursday that the charges against Williams relate to that investigation.
Other residents of the Fallingbrook neighbourhood were unsettled by the possibility that someone may have been stalking them.
“It’s exceptionally creepy,” said a mother of two who lives at another house Williams is accused of trying to break into. The burglar was scared off by an alarm.
“Was he watching us, or was he just waiting for our house to be emptied? If he was watching us as a family, was he waiting for us to be home or waiting for us to be away?”
A man whose house was among those burglarized said he and his wife came home one day to find family pictures on their bed and underwear drawers open.
“It was pretty upsetting,” said the man, who didn’t want to be identified.
The couple has four children, including 11- and 18-year-old girls. Photos of the girls were taken and the person who broke in rifled through his wife’s panty drawer and his two girls’ panty drawers, he said.
“All the different neighbours we have here, that we know of, it was all the same thing. (The burglar) looked into the women’s cupboards and underpants, and having a look (at) pictures.”
Media in Ottawa reported that during a week-long search at Williams’ current Ottawa home in February police found more than 500 pairs of women’s underwear.
In Tweed, one of the sexual assault victims only learned Thursday that Williams is accused of having broken into her home twice before she was restrained, partially undressed and assaulted Sept. 30, 2009.
“I’m just finding out now that he had been in my home, and I didn’t know about it,’’ she said in an interview.
Since she never reported any break-ins, how do the police know they happened?
Was her attacker so meticulous, so ordered, that he kept notes, as well as fetish-related souvenirs of his visits?
“I’m thinking back a year ago, when a sarong went missing,’’ she says. “I searched my house for it. I thought one of my daughters borrowed it. I never thought anything of it. I only know what was missing after the actual attack.”
And that included two pairs of cotton briefs — her “grannies,’’ as she describes them — and a lilac pillowcase from one of her daughters’ beds.
“I have no idea how he got in. I don’t know if he managed to get a key somehow. The police would not tell me,’’ the woman says.
The only explanation she can come up with is that, on the occasions of the break-ins prior to the assault, she was not home, but at her boyfriend’s place, about a mile away.
“He did his homework,’’ she speculates.
Several of the Tweed victims said they only became aware that something was up when plainclothes detectives visited about a month ago and asked vague questions about unusual happenings or things missing. This week, police phoned to say charges were being laid, but offered no specifics.
“What can I say, I’m just blown away,” said a woman whose home was allegedly broken into in November, 2008, and again a year and a day later — the latter coming just after police allege Williams had broken in to two other Tweed homes and confined and assaulted women.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, lives with her husband and 19-year-old daughter, who she described as beautiful. Knowing what Williams is alleged to have done to other women, she feels sick that something worse could have happened. “This is what’s so upsetting,” said the woman.
Along the highway between Tweed and Belleville, another woman feels fortunate. Her home was broken into twice over two days in mid-November. She noticed and notified police.
“I think I was very lucky. It was my birthday.”
She said she came home to change after work and went to a neighbour’s house for a party. “I’m sorting my life now,” she said. “It makes you think about certain things.”
At a home on the outskirts of Tweed, on a street traveled seldom enough that a passing car would get some attention, Williams allegedly broke in on a weekend in early November. It’s home to a mother and two daughters, Sarah Letwin, 15 and Hali Letwin, 20.
They had no idea they’d been broken into — not until the police came a few weeks ago to ask questions about things going missing. The three hadn’t noticed anything awry. They still don’t know what’s gone, even though Williams is charged with theft of something.
“It’s really terrifying to know that someone who may have committed these acts was in your home,” said Hali.
At a home near Cosy Cove Lane, where Williams owns his cottage, a young man who lives there with his brother and dad said police came calling a month ago, asking similar questions. They, too, had no idea they’d been broken into.
The new charges appear the be the result of a review of break-ins and cold cases by a joint police and military task force that included the Belleville and Ottawa police departments, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.
Lieut.-Col. Tony O’Keeffe, who has been assigned by the military to follow the criminal proceedings, and personally update Williams on administrative matters, said after court that his old acquaintance looked better than he had when they last spoke, about 10 days ago.
Asked if Williams seemed suicidal, O’Keeffe said the two did not directly discuss the colonel’s reported suicide attempt and subsequent hunger strike.
“He looks okay to me, but honestly I can’t tell,” said O’Keeffe.
The colonel, who piloted dignitaries on Canadian air force flights before becoming commander of CFB Trenton, was brought in for questioning following a police roadside check along a road leading to one of the crime scenes. Police, according to media reports, were looking for distinctive tire tracks left at one of the crime scenes. The day after his arrest, Williams reportedly led police to Lloyd’s body.
Williams has yet to enter a plea, and none of the allegations have been tested in court.
He is scheduled to make another court appearance via video link on June 24. A designate for Williams’s lawyer said that, in light of the new charges, more time would be needed to review disclosure documents.