Figuring Out Colonel Williams

By Brian Fawcett | February 13, 2010

Out of the blue on February 8, 2010, Colonel Russell Williams, the Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces base at Trenton, was charged with two murders and two sexual assaults. He was picked out in a police roadblock set up to check tire treads, and the treads on Williams’ Pathfinder matched those at the scene of the abduction of Jessica Lloyd, a 27 year old woman who lived about 50 kilometres from the base Williams commanded. He was brought in, and seems to have confessed, more or less instantly, to the murders and rapes and to a host of lesser offences. He even, by one report led police to the body of his last victim.

Ever since, the Canadian media has been in an analytic frenzy trying to figure out why a man like Williams could get this loony and still hold down a very public and prestigious post in the military. The news editors, assuming that downsizing hasn’t gotten rid of them all, have since sent out, as far as I can see, every half-cooked cub reporter they have to dig out the telling dirt on their target—a likely consequence of having sent all their ace reporters to wave the flag at the Vancouver Olympics and get drunk for a few days. It has given readers and viewers in the Toronto area a not-entirely-wholesome break from the schadenfreude over Toronto mayoralty candidate Adam Giambrone’s self-destruction and the revelations that the boy wonder of the left had been sexually fondling every female  in Toronto he could get his hands on this side of Hazel McCallion but not, from the sound of it, excluding even the doorknobs in his office.

There has been, first of all, the slightly-embarrassed shrugs from the professional criminal profilers, who can’t make heads or tails of Williams because he simply doesn’t profile as a serial rapist/killer, and they don’t want to expose the truth that their trade is something of a boon-doggle anyway, the evidential equivalent of threading needles with sledge hammers. The theories about what built Williams, meanwhile, are so flimsy even the cub reporters won’t come right out with them.

So I will.  I’ve counted ten so far, and I’ve listed them in the order in which the media appears to be willing to almost-but-not-quite articulate them.

1.) Russell Williams attended Upper Canada College, Canada’s equivalent of Eton, where wealthy Anglican boys of all races, colours and creeds have, since 1829, been abused, bullied and bumfucked by other, usually wealthier Anglican boys of all races, colours and creeds, along with, probably, quite a few more of their headmasters and teachers than have been convicted for their offences. UCC has supplied Canada with its political and social elite more or less since its opening. One of the cub reporters discovered that, ahah! Celebrity molester Douglas Brown had been teaching at UCC while Williams was a student there, and they cunningly called Brown up—now out of jail—and still more cunningly asked him if he’d been responsible for sending Williams down the road to perdition. Surprisingly to them, Brown said no.

2.) Williams is the, er, product, of not one but two broken marriages, which every cub reporter understands is a common source of perversion, misery and crime. No doubt noticing that Williams’ mother, two fathers and brother didn’t exactly leap to his defense, they tracked them down and recorded their nominal “no comment” responses as clearly suspicious—albeit without openly noting it as such.

3.) Schoolmates from Williams’ Toronto high school band, from UCC and at the University of Toronto, once they got a bead on Williams as Russ Sovka (his step-father’s surname) described him as a quiet, neat loner and a good musician. At UCC he was similarly unmemorable, although I note that his work as a hall-cop and head-masters’ rat went entirely unremarked upon. I suspect that the military is full of quiet, excessively neat loners who are accustomed to and enjoy barrack structuring, and I also suspect that they turn into serial killer/rapists about as frequently as garrulous, messy people end up in gang killings. Still, you could tell that the cub reports found this fairly suspicious.

4.) Russell Williams attended the University of Toronto’s Scarborough college at about the same time that Paul Bernardo was beginning his career. It was easy to see where the cub reporters were going with that one: every rape not confessed to by Bernardo was going to be the work of Russell Williams. Alas, no one knows which of the Scarborough rapes Bernardo has confessed to, but the implications are ripe for plucking: it implies that Williams has been fully operational for more than 20 years. I don’t think so, but who’s to say?

5.) In 2006, Williams is said to have spent time at a secret military base in the Middle East. This report is unsourced, but you can see where the conspiracy-theory oriented cub reporters are headed. Was it a secret military training facility (or mental hospital) where the training extracted a couple of screws in Williams head? Put this together with the fact that William’s allegedly confessed-to offences all took place after that, and god knows what the military was injecting into the veins of anyone within a thousand kilometres of poison-gas spewing Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and you have a possible explanation: he was poisoned or brainwashed.

6.) Then there’s one for the environmentalists.  Both Williams’ father and step-father worked at Chalk River, which is Canada’s nuclear research facility. What were those men bringing home in their shirt pockets? A little carelessly-spilled plutonium in the lab—the source of most evil in the world—was then spilled into Russell’s breakfast cereal, and thirty years later, presto!

7.) Both of Williams’ step fathers were avid yachters while they lived and worked in Chalk River, and all of them spent a lot of time at the local yacht club, yachting and playing tennis. Never mind that Chalk River is somewhere north of Camp Petawawa which is itself somewhere north of Ottawa and about as close to Lake Ontario as to Hudson’s Bay and not exactly an area refulgent with yachting-suitable bodies of water unless you’re talking about dodging deadheads and riffles in the Ottawa River. This could be cub reporter-inattention to geography, or maybe they were yachting on some secret nuclear pile-cooling heavy water facility we don’t know about, just like we don’t know that yachting in the far north leads to crime. But you never know, eh?

8.) Williams, while in his high school band, was the lone trumpeter who had a silver trumpet. This could have been a damaging form of exclusivity with a direct conduit to vulnerable brain circuitry. Mothers of young Canadian musicians, awaken!

9.) And what about jazz, eh? Every cub reporter knows the link between jazz music and crime. J. Edgar Hoover knew about it, too. Wasn’t Charlie Parker a junkie? Is there a link between Williams apparent love of jazz, his (silver) trumpet, and Herb Alpert’s “Lonely Bull”?

10.) Finally, maybe it’s the military itself. Canadian Forces officials, terrified that one of the cub reports is going to put 2+2 together, realize that soldiers are deliberately trained to kill people and break things, and will blame the Canadian Forces for producing Russell Williams. Ever since February 8th, high level military personnel have been rushing around frantically, leading sing-songs and hand-holding sessions at Trenton area Tim Hortons’ outlets, and kissing every baby they can get their hands on.

Now, in the real world, none of this fifth-rate windscreen analysis is going to explain what caused those loose screws in Russell Williams’ head to come out and fall into the gears. But at least two women are dead because they did, and no one knows how many others have been harmed.  I’ll be very surprised if we ever find out why Russell Williams  started collecting women’s lingerie, and how that escalated—hopefully just recently—into raping women and then murdering his rape victims. It is inexplicable, unfathomable—at least to blunt instrument level evidential analyses like the ones we’re seeing. I’m betting—or maybe I’m just hoping—that it will remain so, despite the possible causes listed above.

Meanwhile, as they say down at the training centre for cub reports, enjoy.

February 10, 2010, 1385 Words


  • Brian Fawcett

    Brian Fawcett (1944-2022) is a founding co-editor of He's the author of many books, including "Cambodia: A book for people who find television too slow" (1986), "Gender Wars" (1994), "Virtual Clearcut, or The Way Things Are in My Hometown" (2003), "Local Matters: A Defence of Dooney's Cafe and other Non-Globalized People, Places, and Ideas" (2003) and "Human Happiness" (2011).

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