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:
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.