How a colonel became a killer
Former 8 Wing-CFB Trenton base commander and convicted serial killer Russell Williams is escorted out from the Superior Court building in Belleville, a few moments after Justice Robert Scott sentenced the former colonel to a life sentence Thursday morning, Oct. 21, 2010. (QMI Agency)
In How a Colonel Became a Killer, writer Cal Millar and Toronto Sun reporter Ian Robertson dig into the background of the brutal sex slayer and detail the startling and horrific evidence that made Russell Williams the first murderer who made technology an accomplice to his crimes. The following is an edited version of a chapter from their new book, available through Amazon.com.
Rape and murder victims have been photographed or videotaped during sexual assaults or after being killed.
But until Williams' arrest, investigators never encountered a killer who fully documented their crimes.
Evidence uncovered during Project Hatfield provided the law enforcement community, police psychiatrists and researchers with an encyclopedia of information about his 29-month crime spree -- which began with sexually motivated residential burglaries and culminated with the senseless slayings of two young women.
Former Toronto Police homicide detective Tom Klatt, a partner at MKD International Inc., a leading worldwide private investigation agency, said it's "extremely rare" to find a case in which the culprit took pictures. But he predicts it will become more common.
"Williams was the first," Klatt said, calling him a "rare and different type of killer" -- someone who has shown us the future.
With new technology such as small iPhones and other high-quality image recording equipment, Klatt suggests some murderers will videotape or photograph killings so they can relive the experience or share images with others, similar to how child pornography is distributed through underground computer networks.
"It's common for criminals to take something from a crime scene," he said. "Since they do take trophies, I fully expect in the future, killers will make use of modern technology to record their crimes.
"They get off ... looking at what they have done."
One of the most recent movies featuring a killer making gruesome videos, the documentary-style 'Poughkeepsie Tapes', is total fiction. Like Williams, the fictional slayer documented victims from their abductions to their deaths and posthumous mutilation in the town midway between Albany and New York City.
With its release only a few years after Kendall Francois pleaded guilty in 2000 to murdering eight women there, some people surmised it was a true account. Police found several bodies in his home, but nothing to indicate any victims were photographed or video-taped as the horror film portrayed.
Clifford Olson, who is considered Canada's most callous serial killer, didn't photograph his victims, but did tape-record a 14-year-old girl's fatal screams. He then played her anguished cries over the family's telephone.
From January 1980 to August 1981, Olson who murdered 11 young people in British Columbia's heavily-populated lower mainland. He died in prison last September.
St. Catharines slayer Paul Bernardo videotaped his wife, Karla Homolka, during sexual activity with one victim, but no pictorial evidence of the killings surfaced.
Dating Game contestant Rodney Alcala, a U.S. rapist sentenced to death in 2010 for five 1970s murders, had more than 1,000 photographs of young women and boys mostly in sexually explicit poses. None depicted people after death.
Dubbed the "Beauty Queen Killer" after murdering eight women across America and being implicated in numerous other rapes and sex-slayings, Australia-born Christopher Bernard Wilder -- killed when his gun discharged while struggling with a New Hampshire cop in 1984 -- was heading to Canada, where capital punishment was abolished.
Among those taking photographs of victims was a British couple who also made a 16-minute audio-recording of a 10-year-old girl being killed in 1964. Like Williams' victims, she was forced to pose naked before being raped and strangled in one of the earliest-known cases involving pictures taken before a slaying.
The judge who sentenced Ian Brady and Myra Hindley -- she died in prison in 2002 -- to life for the five "Moor Murders" in Manchester, called them sadistic and depraved.
Hanged in Tokyo in 2008, serial abductor Tsutomu Miyazak killed four young girls, who he photographed before and after death, then partially ate -- after sending graphically-detailed letters to their families.
Miyazaki, who was more extreme and depraved than Williams, owned more than 5,000 horror and explicit adult videos, plus photographs and videotaped recordings of his little victims.
Former U.S. soldier Dean Corll took photos of some of the 28 boys he tortured, raped and murdered in Texas.
Police found photographs of at least 16, taken before they were killed, most likely so he could relive the euphoria he achieved while committing rape and murder. He was shot dead in 1973 by a victim promised freedom if he slew a 15-year-old girl Corll had abducted.
Another bizarre case with videos and stills taken of victims before their murders involves Leonard Lake and Charles Ng., of California men who, like Williams, had served in the military.
In less than two years, they may have killed up to 25 people, including two babies. Although law enforcement authorities have not formally indicated the purpose of the videos, the men may have experimented with the idea of producing so-called "snuff films."
Caught shoplifting in San Francisco, Ng fled before police arrived, leaving his car with a gun and silencer. Before committing suicide, Lake gave them his partner's name and mentioned several victims slaughtered in their hideout bunker, where investigators found written logs and videotapes outlining some of the horror that took place there.
Arrested in Calgary in 1985 when caught shoplifting, Ng made headlines after officials refused American requests for his extradition -- arguing the serial killer might be executed if convicted. Following public pressure, he was shipped to California, where he remains on San Quentin State Prison's death row.
Muslim extremists have also video-taped their brutal torture and murder of kidnap victims.
These images are key tools in a propaganda campaign aimed at demoralizing countries which declared a war on terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001 slaughters in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Extremist groups, including al-Qaida, began posting video and still images of barbaric executions after foreign coalition troops organized by the United Nations to destroy training camps and wipe out terrorism worldwide. They also seek to reduce the free world's appetite for battle and give activists ammunition to pressure politicians into withdrawing support for military action in the Middle East.
It is now obvious that the video camera has become a popular tool for any killer seeking more than 15 minutes of fame.
After Anders Behring Breivik gunned down 77 young people and wounded more than 300 in Norway last year, and detonated a fertilizer bomb in Oslo that killed eight people, police found his lengthy anti-Muslim manifesto -- which urged other mass murderers to make and share videotapes of their carnage, using a specific camera.
It appears a gunman who murdered four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, this March, including a seven-year-old girl, after earlier killing three soldiers, wore Breivik's recommended camera. The shooter, al-Qaida sympathizer Mohammed Merah, was killed when "special forces" police officers raided his apartment.
No images were posted on the Internet, but he sent videos to the Al Jazeera Arab television network, which did not broadcast them.
It's easy to compare Russell Williams with serial killers.
He escalated rapidly from panty-stealing raids at neighbouring homes in Tweed and Ottawa to sex-related homicides, but wasn't a serial, since he only killed twice. But the former CFB Trenton commander shares similarities with most and, having escalated his attacks, undoubtedly more women would likely have been raped and murdered without police intervention.
Because he was so calculating and methodically recorded Jessica Lloyd and Cpl. Marie-France Comeau being killed, police had "a gut feeling" that he may have already murdered other victims.
Military police compiled records of his travels and civilian forces, including OPP cold case detectives, were also asked about any unsolved homicides. No evidence, however, linked Williams to previous victims.