true crime

Pilot Russell Williams flew the Queen all over the world. He was also a cold-blooded killer.

Air colonel Russell Williams was a decorated military pilot who had flown VIPs including the Queen and Prince Philip.

The English-born pilot was a commander of Canada’s largest airbase, described as a “shining bright star”, but Williams had a bizarre and dark double life.

His downfall will be examined by Scottish criminologist David Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University in a CBS special documentary Voice of a Killer – The Colonel this week.

In 2007 Williams, now 55, began to break into the homes of women and girls near his home in Ottawa and cottage in Tweed, Ontario. He would steal their underwear and photograph himself wearing them.

After dozens of break-ins, in 2009 his fetish escalated and he committed two sexual assaults.

Then, in November 2009, he broke into the home of a female corporal who was under his command at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.

He brutally murdered her and recorded his actions on video and with photographs.

Just two months later he struck again, killing another woman in a similarly gruesome fashion.

Following the murder of his second victim Jessica Lloyd, local police set up a roadblock to check cars which passed by her home.

The tyre tracks of Williams’ car matched those found at Lloyd’s home and ultimately lead to his arrest.

When brought in for questioning, Williams initially appeared confident. He denied any wrongdoing, but as the gruelling 10-hour interview went on he realised there was not getting away with it.


He gave details of his 82 break-ins, the sexual assaults and murders and directed police to his collection of mementos – including thousands of photos taken of his crimes and a catalogued collection of stolen underwear – hidden in his Ottawa home and cottage in Tweed, Ontario.

Voice of a Killer will examine the gruelling police interview which finally brought Williams to justice.

Criminologist David Wilson praised police for an absolute “masterclass” during the interviewing of Williams, who in 10 hours fell from a decorated, well-respected man renowned for flying VIPs including prime ministers and Queen Elizabeth II to a confessed murderer.

“Over the course of 10 hours [Ontario Provencial Police Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth] is literally revealing to Williams the evidence that is going to tie him to the two murders,” the Daily Mail reported Wilson as saying.

“When Williams first enters the interview scenario, he is a very powerful man, he’s highly decorated… He’s filled with power and he kind of presumed, I think, that he would just be able to overcome this quietly-spoken police sergeant, who asked him to come in on a Sunday to talk about one or two things that he wanted to get clarified.

“You begin to see the tables turn in the course of the interview when you see the scales fall from Williams’s eyes and Smyth gets him to not only confess to the murders but also tell them where he has buried the body of Jessica.”

In October 2010 Williams pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to two concurrent terms of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

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