Mur­der charges against colonel rock Cana­dian mil­i­tary

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOBI CO­HEN

BELLEVILLE, Ont. — The Cana­dian mil­i­tary was rocked to its core Mon­day fol­low­ing the bomb­shell al­le­ga­tion that the colonel in com­mand of the coun­try’s largest air force base had killed two women and sex­u­ally as­saulted two oth­ers.

Col. Rus­sell Wil­liams, a 46-yearold ca­reer mem­ber of the Cana­dian Forces, was charged Mon­day with first-de­gree mur­der in the deaths of Jes­sica Lloyd, 27, of Belleville, and Marie France Comeau, a 38-year-old cor­po­ral with CFB Tren­ton’s 437 squadron who was killed last Novem­ber.

“ We’re all shocked,” said Lt. An­nie Morin, a pub­lic af­fairs of­fi­cer at CFB Tren­ton.

“ The wing com­man­der has been a man that’s been re­spected and very much liked, so this news came as a very big shock for pretty much ev­ery­body on the base.”

Wil­liams was an elite pi­lot, a “shin­ing bright star” of the mil­i­tary who rose through the ranks dur­ing his 23-year ca­reer to fly the prime min­is­ter and Gov­er­nor Gen­eral across Canada and over­seas in one of four Cana­dian Forces Chal­lenger jets. He’s now charged with sex­ual as­sault and forcible con­fine­ment in at­tacks on two other women in the re­gion dur­ing home in­va­sions last Septem­ber.

Wil­liams was ap­pointed as the base com­man­der of CFB Tren­ton last July. The high-pro­file mil­i­tary base is where troops de­part from for Afghanistan and where repa­tri­a­tion cer­e­monies are held hon­our­ing slain sol­diers. It is also a ma­jor search-and-res­cue base and the main stag­ing site for aid to Haiti.

Mon­day, mil­i­tary brass faced the cam­eras to ex­press their con­do­lences to the fam­ily’s of the vic­tims and shock at who po­lice had named as the sus­pect.

“I never worked with him closely and didn’t know him per­son­ally,” Maj.-Gen. Yvan Blondin, com­man­der of the air force said.

“As far as I know from what I’ve seen from his file, he was just a shin­ing bright star. If you talk to peo­ple on the wing they would prob­a­bly tell you that they ad­mired the wing com­man­der ... Ev­ery­body is so sur­prised, we just do not know what to think about this.”

The charges raised ques­tions about whether mem­bers of the mil­i­tary are re­quired to un­dergo reg­u­lar psy­chi­atric test­ing as they as­sume higher com­mand.

Blondin said such test­ing would only be or­dered if there were signs of a prob­lem.

Al­le­ga­tions that a preda­tor was in their midst left women in east­ern On­tario deeply un­set­tled.

Ka­t­rina Chap­ple, 27, of Tren­ton, said as a re­sult of a warn­ing from po­lice she re­cently had an alarm sys­tem in­stalled.

“It’s kind of scary. I have a house by my­self just like ( Jes­sica) did,” Chap­ple said.

But Terra Dafoe, Lloyd’s friend since child­hood, said po­lice should have no­ti­fied women sooner, as warn­ings came too late for her “good-hearted” friend.

She said women in the Belleville-area weren’t aware there was a pos­si­ble preda­tor on the loose un­til af­ter Lloyd dis­ap­peared.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.