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Sudden psychopath: The horrifying yet strange case of Col. Russell Williams

Name, Rank and Serial Killer—that was the title of Saturday’s 48 Hours Mystery show about Canadian Colonel Russell Williams. Perhaps you remember this shocking case. Williams served for 23 years in the Canadian military. He was a pilot who once flew the Queen of England and commanded Canada’s largest airbase until February 10, 2010—when he was arrested for rape, murder, and 82 charges of breaking and entering. What did he take? Women’s lingerie.

48 Hours tells the whole sordid story:

Read Col. Russell Williams: Killer in Command?

Watch Name, Rank and Serial Killer.

In October 2010, Williams was tried and sentenced to two concurrent terms of life in prison for his crimes. Canadian media published some fascinating stories about the case, and psychopaths in general. Perhaps the most unusual thing about this case is that apparently Williams exhibited no hints of psychopathic behavior before he began his lingerie-stealing spree at the age of 44.

That’s right—44. Unlike with most psychopaths, Williams does not appear to have a history of lies, deceit, fraud, aggression, promiscuity, rages, financial problems and other antisocial behavior.

The only reference in news accounts to a possibly unsavory connection is that Williams was friends with Paul Bernardo, who became the Scarborough Rapist and murdered at least three schoolgirls. The two attended the University of Toronto at Scarborough together, but there are no links between Williams and any of Bernardo’s crimes.

The Canadian magazine Macleans published a story that provides even more detail into Williams’ crimes. The story, entitled A new kind of monster, points out that experts are a at a loss to explain this man:

“What’s interesting about Williams is, he’s utterly unique,” says Peter Hoaken, associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Western Ontario. “He doesn’t correspond to any of the models that forensic psychologists have developed over the years.”

A Canadian journalist who writes for the Globe and Mail, Tim Appleby, has just come out with a book, also entitled A new kind of monster. In it, he argues that Williams is not a psychopath.

One of Appleby’s colleagues at the newspaper, Christie Blachford, wrote about the new book in a recent column. She says that Appleby is a veteran crime reporter who researched the case thoroughly and knew what a cold-blooded psychopath was. Blachford quotes the book:

“Williams was not that kind of murderer at all,” Appleby says. The rising military star “had feelings, emotions, attachments of all kinds: he cared about his wife, he cared about the military; he was devoted to his cats, and he also appears to have a moral compass …”

The Globe and Mail, as part of its coverage of this case, also published an excellent article called, How a psychopath is made. The article summarizes the latest findings on research into the brains of psychopaths.

It’s hard to believe that a man who photographed and videotaped himself modeling the women’s panties that he stole, sexually assaulting two women and viciously murdering two more women may not be a psychopath. But human beings are capable of infinite variation. Even as scientists, researchers and the rest of us develop more understanding of psychopaths, they may discover that there are always exceptions to the rules.

Story suggested by a Lovefraud reader.



62 Comments on "Sudden psychopath: The horrifying yet strange case of Col. Russell Williams"

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  1. slimone says:

    Ahhh SK,

    Thanks. I have never really told my story here. But it is just a different ‘flavor’ of deceit and betrayal as everyone else. Money lost, trust broken, abuse survived. And in truth my story is a string of relationships with a number of spaths, dating back to my teens.

    My grandfather was a spath pedophile, and I was, along with most of the girls in the family, a victim. And my mother went on to marry another pedophile, who also abused me.

    So, once I became prematurely sexual at 13, I was ripe for the picking. And spaths were familiar types to me. Especially the oversexed narcissistic types.

    My story spans so much of my life it’d be impossible to relay. Well….off to a massage!

    Slim



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  2. one/joy_step_at_a_time says:

    Panther – nice one! ‘Put an LF reader in the room with the guy for an hour. I bet any one of us could diagnose him in a matter of minutes ….’

    i was shocked when i read about the book a bout williams and the author didn’t think he was a spath…made me feel sick actually.

    he’s a spath. with a very very very good mask.



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  3. Ox Drover says:

    Slim,

    The “superficial honesty” is a great description of many people who MASK their psychopathic traits under that guise of “telling the truth” which is a deception.

    One, I agree totally that he is a psychopath, and the person who said he wasn’t would know a Psychopath if it bit him in the butt!



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  4. superkid10 says:

    Slim

    Wow. I am sorry for that. Yes, i haven’t heard your whole story. Maybe you would be willing to tell it.

    There are others on here who have been life long victims of spaths.

    I had a N mom, and a very shitty run in with a SPATH, three years in the making, i’m having a hell of a time breaking lose. My body chemistry is permanently altered from the stress and drama. I know it, i can feel it. I’m not the same person I used to be, but I’m crawling back.

    For you, it must be even more difficult, the more years that you’ve been victimized. But you’re not the only one.

    I am glad you’re here, and I will offer support in any way I can.

    SK



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  5. behind_blue_eyes says:

    “The “superficial honesty” is a great description of many people who MASK their psychopathic traits under that guise of “telling the truth” which is a deception.”

    Ox, right on. They tell enough truth so that they are able think to themselves they are honest.



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  6. skylar says:

    The superficial honesty could also be called deceptive honesty.
    They tell you a partial truth to direct your attention away from the BIG LIE.

    My spath would have sex with anything, male or female or goat.

    To me he presented himself as “a one-woman, man.” (as he put it).

    To most of our mutual acquaintances, he made sure they knew he was having sex with as many women as possible.

    The reason he allowed them to know that “truth” is so they wouldn’t ever imagine all the guys and goats he was doing too. I mean who could have so much sex? Only a rabbit. perhaps he screwed rabbits too. It’s very likely.



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  7. behind_blue_eyes says:

    Skylar;

    “They tell you a partial truth to direct your attention away from the BIG LIE”

    Right on. Mined played innocent to direct my attention away from his being HIV+.



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