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Colonel charged with terrorizing community

Commanding officer of biggest military airbase in Canada charged with murder, sexual assault and stealing women's lingerie.

Colonel Russell Williams, Wing Commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton, is pictured in this Sep. 20, 2009 photo. On April 29, Williams was hit with a further 82 charges involving break and enters and theft — much of it women’s lingerie — adding to the charges of sexual assault and murder already levied against him. (Department of National Defence/Master Corporal Miranda Langguth/Handout/Reuters)

TWEED, Canada — Cosy Cove Lane, as its name suggests, is the kind of sleepy place where doors were left unlocked for as long as anyone can remember.

It’s a dead-end dirt road hugging one side of a heart-shaped inlet in the village of Tweed, a rural community of 1,500 people in southeastern Ontario.

The 21 homes on the lane are a mix of summer cottages and year-round residences. A hand painted wood sign at the lane’s entrance, put up years ago by a now dead resident, misspells Cosy with a “z.” No one is bothered to change it.

“I don't think anything [bad] ever happened before this,” said Ernestine Cole, who is in her 80s and has lived on Cosy Cove for two decades. “We used to call it Geritol Lane because it was full of old people.”

Cole is alluding to a slew of home burglaries that began terrorizing the community during the past two years, culminating in the sexual assault of two women in their homes last fall — one on Cosy Cove Lane and the other one street away.

A woman was then murdered in a town south of Tweed last November, and another young woman was murdered just outside of the village in January.

Terror turned to dismay in February when Colonel Russell Williams was charged with the sexual assaults and murders. On April 29, he was hit with a further 82 charges involving break and enters and theft — much of it women’s lingerie.

The fact that Williams was commanding officer of the biggest military airbase in Canada — CFB Trenton, about an hour’s drive south of Tweed — turned the arrest into a major national news story. No one was more stunned than the residents of Cosy Cove Lane: Williams was their neighbor. He has owned the cottage at 62 Cosy Cove Lane since 2004.

A decorated pilot, the 47-year-old Williams used to head the squadron that flew VIPs, including the prime minister. He was also commander of Camp Mirage, a secret air force staging base in Dubai that conducts assignments in Afghanistan.

But by the time he was made commanding officer of the biggest air base in Canada in July 2009, police allege he had already broken into his neighbor’s houses 58 times. And more were to come.