Po­lice search air force colonel’s Ottawa home for ev­i­dence in mur­der cases

Cape Breton Post - - National -

OTTAWA (CP) — Foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice spent hours Thurs­day comb­ing through the Ottawa home of an air force colonel charged in the mur­ders of two women and the sex­ual as­saults of two oth­ers.

Six plain­clothes of­fi­cers car­ry­ing boxes ar­rived at the semide­tached house shared by Col. Rus­sell Wil­liams and his wife shortly af­ter noon.

They pa­pered over win­dows at the home in Ottawa’s Tony West­boro neigh­bour­hood. The cou­ple’s BMW re­mained parked in the drive­way.

Wil­liams, the for­mer com­man­der of Canada’s largest mil­i­tary air­field, Cana­dian Forces Base Tren­ton, was ar­rested Sun­day in Ottawa. The body of one of the vic­tims, Jes­sica Lloyd, was found Mon­day.

Wil­liams, 46, of Tweed, Ont., was charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the deaths of Lloyd, 27, and Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 37.

Comeau was based Tren­ton and served as a stew­ard aboard the same mil­i­tary VIP flights Wil­liams pi­loted for much of the 1990s, fer­ry­ing the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral, the prime min­is­ter and other dig­ni­taries on do­mes­tic and over­seas trips.

Wil­liams is also charged with two sex­ual as­saults in the same Tweed neigh­bour­hood where he and wife Mary El­iz­a­beth Har­ri­man had a cot­tage. Tweed is near CFB Tren­ton.

Har­ri­man is the as­so­ciate ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion of Canada and was liv­ing in the cou­ple’s re­cently built Ottawa home.

Ac­cord­ing to a search war­rant is­sued be­fore Wil­liams emerged as the pri­mary sus­pect in the cases, de­tec­tives en­tered the home of a prior sus­pect looking for lin­gerie, baby blan­kets and com­puter data stor­age de­vices.

The war­rant was re­lated to at­tacks on two women who were bound and sex­u­ally as­saulted in their homes last Septem­ber. Both women lived within walk­ing dis­tance of the Wil­liams cot­tage.

Be­sides two first-de­gree mur­der charges, Wil­liams faces two counts of forcible con­fine­ment and two counts of break and en­ter and sex­ual as­sault re­lat­ing to the at­tacks. His cot­tage was cor­doned off by po­lice tape and an OPP trailer was parked out­side ear­lier this week.

Wil­liams re­port­edly came to the at­ten­tion of in­ves­ti­ga­tors at a road­side check­point last week when his SUV’s un­usual tires were linked to tread­marks at one of the crime scenes.

A Kingston, Ont., news­pa­per re­ports Wil­liams was placed on a sui­cide watch when he first he ar­rived at a pro­vin­cial jail in Na­pa­nee, Ont.

Wil­liams would only give au­thor­i­ties his name, rank and se­rial num­ber when he was first pro­cessed at the Quinte De­ten­tion Cen­tre, the WhigS­tan­dard re­ported sources as say­ing Thurs­day.

On Wed­nes­day, Wil­liams was al­lowed to ex­change his sui­cide gown for a reg­u­lar, or­ange jump­suit, the pa­per re­ported.

Po­lice are looking into Wil­liams’ past post­ings to see if there are any links to sim­i­lar cold-case files else­where.

Wil­liams at­tended Up­per Canada Col­lege, an elite Toronto board­ing school, for two years in the early 1980s. At the time, he went by his step­fa­ther’s sur­name, Sovka.

He flew un­der the radar dur­ing his time there, said Innes van Nos­trand, who grad­u­ated the same year as Wil­liams.

“He was kind of a dili­gent, hard-work­ing fel­low who was not a high-pro­file guy here,” said van Nos­trand, now a vice-prin­ci­pal at the school.

“ That’s how I think most peo­ple in the class would prob­a­bly de­scribe him: a se­ri­ous stu­dent and a re­ally good mu­si­cian.”

He was known as a tal­ented trum­pet player and an up­stand­ing stu­dent who showed lead­er­ship qual­i­ties even then. Ac­cord­ing to his year­book writeup, he was among five pre­fects at his dorm known as Wedd’s House. He grad­u­ated in 1982.

“It came as a shock,” van Nos­trand said.

The brother of Wil­liams’ for­mer step­fa­ther, Stan Sovka, and his wife Made­line were stunned to learn of the charges.

“ That’s not the guy we know,” Made­line Sovka said from Cal­gary.

“ We knew a very nice man, a nice boy grow­ing up, no prob­lem, very gen­tle.”

The Sovkas haven’t seen Wil­liams in many years, but they have been kept up-to-date on his life from his mother, Nonie Sovka, who was mar­ried to Stan Sovka’s brother, Jerry.

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