The Canadian Forces have searched convicted serial killer Russell Williams’ Tweed cottage to retrieve his military kit — and burn his military clothing.
Four military officials, including two police, entered the Tweed cottage on Tuesday with the former air force colonel’s permission. They emerged after 90 minutes with enough military equipment, including books and manuals, to almost fill a van.
“All his military clothes — boots, headdress, shirts and everything — as soon it was taken it was also disposed of, it was actually burned the same day,” Cmdr. Hubert Genest, a Canadian Forces spokesperson, said in an interview.
Genest added that while the retrieving of military equipment is standard procedure for anyone who leaves the army, the burning of uniforms is not. Normally, the military tries to recycle and reuse clothing.
“In this case,” Genest said, “all of his clothing had his name on it, and we felt it was actually more appropriate to actually dispose of it by burning the equipment.”
Asked why it was burned, Genest said: “I could speculate about what could happen to the clothing, but by disposing of it like this, we’re sure it’s not going to be used again.”
What’s clear is the clothing, if burned all at once, would have made quite a bonfire. “In the military, you can have quite a large amount of uniforms and clothing and boots and hats, gloves and rucksacks,” Genest said. “My kit takes a lot of room in my basement.”
Williams, 47, pleaded guilty last month to 82 fetish break-and-enters and thefts, two sexual assaults involving home invasion, and to raping and killing his colleague Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 38, of Brighton and Jessica Lloyd, 27, of Belleville. He is serving a life sentence in Kingston Penitentiary. At the time of his arrest, Williams was commander of CFB Trenton, Canada’s biggest air base.
During his sentencing hearing, the court heard that the SUV Williams used to kidnap Lloyd would be crushed, and the hundreds of items of women’s and girls’ underwear and clothing he stole would be burned.
Williams has since been stripped of his rank and thrown out of the military. It was the first time that happened to an officer in the Canadian Forces, Genest said.
A few minor items of clothing belonging to the military are missing, Genest added. He stressed that none of the documents retrieved from Williams were classified. Genest said military officials did not enter Willliams’ Ottawa home as part of the operation to retrieve equipment.
There is also “an arrangement,” Genest said, to retrieve Williams’ military medals and his “commission scroll” within days. The scroll is a document signed by the Governor General and the Minister of National Defence, which confirms that Williams was a serving officer in the Canadian Forces. Officers retiring from the military would normally keep the scroll.
Williams had two medals — the Canadian Forces Decoration Medal, given for good service, and the South West Asia Service Medal, for having served at least 30 days in Afghanistan. Genest said the medals will likely be kept “in a safe place” once the military gets them back.
“It is an action that we are taking because . . . he’s no longer deemed a deserving member of the Canadian Forces.”
The Star reported last week that, at about the time his crime wave began in 2007, Williams was taking a cocktail of medications for chronic pain — including a drug that in some cases causes mind-altering side effects.
One of the drugs, according to an informed source, was prednisone, a corticosteroid used to treat inflammation, arthritis, asthma, lupus and certain cancers. Studies since the 1950s indicate it can cause a range of adverse reactions, including euphoria, mania and bipolar disorder.
There is speculation about whether the drug played a role in the mystery of why a man with no criminal past suddenly, at 44, embarked on a series of ritualistic fetish crimes that quickly escalated to murder.