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Colonel Russell Williams. (Warrant Officer Carole Morissette/Canadian Forces Combat Camera)
Colonel Russell Williams. (Warrant Officer Carole Morissette/Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

The case against the colonel: 'Lingerie break-ins' and a 'treasure trove' of photo evidence Add to ...

Colonel Russell Williams has given police a lengthy and wide-ranging statement about four dozen so-called "lingerie break-ins," two home invasions that turned into bizarre sexual assaults last September, and the murders of two young women, one a military steward with whom he may have flown.

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Several sources have also told The Globe and Mail that the 46-year-old commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton took detectives to the body of Jessica Lloyd, a 27-year-old who suddenly disappeared on Jan. 29 after texting a friend she had safely arrived home.

The Globe has also learned that while Col. Williams was in countless photographs in the base newspaper, The Contact, since taking over the job last summer - there is hardly an issue without at least several pictures of the lantern-jawed veteran - more ominously, he was also an avid amateur photographer.

Sources say that he photographed the murders and sexual attacks. His computer, once examined by forensic specialists, is expected to yield what one source called "a treasure trove" of evidence.

After Sunday's extraordinary interview with officers from the OPP's criminal behavioural analysis section, Col. Williams was formally charged with two murders - Ms. Lloyd's and the Nov. 25 slaying of Corporal Marie-France Comeau - and the two unusual sexual assaults in nearby Tweed, Ont., last fall.

The key officer in the room was Detective-Sergeant Jim Smith, who last year had obtained a statement in the abduction and murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford of Woodstock, Ont., last summer.

According to those close to the investigation, Col. Williams' statement was delivered in a crisp, almost business-like fashion, less out of contrition, it appeared, than out of a sense of duty ingrained during a 22-year military career.

Because of his seeming frankness and willingness to talk to investigators, while police are checking into other unsolved cases at bases where Col. Williams was previously posted, he isn't considered a suspect in any of those.

Yet all the while he was allegedly and abruptly acting out his fantasies, Col. Williams was also filling his calendar with the busy quasi-social whirl of a base commander, a role with a huge grip-and-grin component.

Between the Nov. 25 slaying last year of Corp. Comeau and the disappearance of Ms. Lloyd late last month, for instance, Col. Williams was cheerfully posing with a variety of visiting base guests, among them Santa Claus and former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier, then on his book tour; taking part in myriad events, including a "jail and bail" charity fundraiser in which he was photographed being arrested and put behind fake bars for "being too young to be a Wing Commander," kicking off a curling bonspiel, and writing a year-end letter to the men and women under his command.

Ms. Lloyd was abducted from her house, the tire tracks left behind in the snow the first link police ever had - though they didn't know it at first - to the eminently respectable base commander.

Last Thursday, police set up a version of the familiar RIDE spot check, a sort of mobile version of a door-to-door search, along rural Highway 37, which runs north from Highway 401 at Belleville to the municipality of Tweed. They were looking to match the unusual tire treads found outside Ms. Lloyd's house.

Col. Williams, behind the wheel of his Pathfinder and not the BMW people most often saw him drive, happened to get caught in that roadside check. If it was the first indication he could have been involved, it was not the last.

The 37-year-old Corp. Comeau had been under his command; Ms. Lloyd lived just off Highway 37 close to Belleville, and the two women who were sexually assaulted in September lived on the street in Tweed, Cozy Cove Lane, where Col. Williams and his wife, who works in Ottawa and lives there during the week, have a cottage.

Detectives also had descriptions of lingerie and other intimate souvenirs reported missing by the two Tweed women who were assaulted in their homes last fall. Although the victims' faces were covered, as was their attacker's, they were able to tell police that they had been "posed" and photographed by their assailant.

Given the sudden escalation in violence between the September break-ins/assaults and the lethal attack upon Corp. Comeau in November, police believed at first they likely were dealing with two different perpetrators.

Corp. Comeau was a steward on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to India in early November. By the time the Prime Minister headed to China the next month, her body had been discovered by her boyfriend in her Brighton, Ont., home.

Given the statistics on domestic murders, suspicion naturally fell upon the boyfriend, at least in the public eye and among the air crew who were on the PM's flight to China, but a search of his home quashed that, sources told The Globe, and he was quickly cleared by police.

It is the dichotomy between the commander's accomplished life and the allegations against him now which has left those who knew or worked for him reeling. He is described by subordinates as both friendly and thoroughly professional.

Although the job of commander kept Col. Williams so busy he was often the last to leave the office, he also continued to fly the CC150 Airbuses that are flown by 437 Squadron, Corp. Comeau's squadron, to keep his pilot status current.

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