Editor's Note: The following story contains graphic details that may disturb some readers.
Jessica Lloyd's relatives and friends stood just steps away from her killer Wednesday and told an emotional courtroom they will never understand why Colonel Russell Williams stole the life of the beautiful young woman.
"I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest," said Roxanne Lloyd, Ms. Lloyd's mother, who read aloud the dates of Jessica's birth and death during her victim-impact statement Wednesday.
"I wouldn't wish this on anyone but I can't help wondering why? Jessica never did anything to anyone. … I have heard that people should be forgiven for their sins … but I can honestly say I hate Russell Williams. … I am a broken woman," she said, noting that she now takes anti-depressants and sleeping pills.
"There's no punishment that can make this better."
Earlier in the day, the Belleville, Ont., court heard portions of the colonel's videotaped interview with police, which lasted more than 10 hours and took place on Feb. 7, 2010, several days after Ms. Lloyd disappeared. He confessed to his crimes and later led police to the location of the 27-year-old's body.
Col. Williams was formally convicted Tuesday of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of sexual assault and forcible confinement and 82 fetish burglaries in which he stole women's underwear and other intimate items. By law, he will be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for at least 25 years.
The family of Col. Williams's other murder victim, Corporal Marie-France Comeau, did not deliver victim-impact statements. However, their loss will be addressed by Crown attorney Lee Burgess on Thursday.
Andy Lloyd, Ms. Lloyd's brother, testified that he knew something was wrong from the outset but never guessed at the scale of what was ahead.
Weeping, he said the case has drawn so much media attention that the grieving process has never been completed. He spoke of his happy, fun-loving sister, saying Christmas was an especially joyous occasion. "Looking ahead, I can't even imagine what Christmas will be like."
He glared at Col. Williams. "The only good thing about all of this is that these crimes were stopped. … I have so many questions that will haunt me for the rest of my life and only Russell Williams has the answers. … I don't understand how fate or God or any higher power could allow these things to happen."
After he finished speaking, there was applause in the courtroom.
Deborah, Ms. Lloyd's aunt, said her six-year-old grandson wants to be a police officer so he can catch bad guys like the one who killed Ms. Lloyd. (Mr. Justice Robert Scott asked the media to use only the first names of most of the witnesses giving victim-impact statements.)
"I don't know how to close my eyes at night without seeing her scared little face and his piercing eyes. … Many people have said it took our angel to bring Russell Williams down."
As Deborah spoke, Col. Williams listened carefully, sitting straight in his seat, a striking change from his demeanour earlier Wednesday. Ontario Provincial Police Detective Inspector Chris Nicholas, who headed the investigation, wiped his eyes.
Another of Ms. Lloyd's aunts said every time she sees Col. Williams's image "it's like being kicked in the stomach". She asked why Col. Williams attacked the much-loved young woman and refused to release her.
"Jessica was home where she thought she was safe. … She was powerless to defend herself against such an experienced predator. … He ended her life and he dumped Jessica on the side of the road like a bag of trash. … He has ruined so many lives," Sharon said.
Sarah, Ms. Lloyd's first cousin, told the court that she is now scared to be alone in her home. "I can't trust anyone. … I worry all the time. … I have lost my best friend. … I have lost myself."
Hayley, a student whose Ottawa-area house was robbed by Col. Williams, testified that the break-in left her frightened, even after she moved away. She said she had panic attacks and trouble sleeping, saying her life has changed. "I realized how violated I felt," she said, acknowledging that others have been affected worse than her.
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