A military commander from Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario has been charged with the murder of Corporal Marie-France Comeau of Brighton.
At an Ottawa news conference today, OPP Detective Inspector Chris Nicholas announced the arrest in Ottawa of Colonel Russell Williams, 46, of Tweed, Ont., the 8 Wing Commander at CFB Trenton.
Williams has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Corporal Comeau and Jessica Lloyd, 27, whose body was found Monday off Cary Road in the Municipality of Tweed. Ms. Lloyd had been missing since January 28 from her home outside Tweed, about 30 kilometres north of Belleville.
Nicholas said police linked the two slayings because of similarities in the cases. They do not expect to make any other arrests.
In addition to the murder charges, Williams faces counts of forcible confinement, breaking and entering, and sexual assault in relation to two home invasions in the Tweed area in September 2009.
Williams made a court appearance Monday afternoon for a bail hearing, walking into the provincial courthouse in Belleville, Ont. His hands and legs were shackled and he wore a blue prison-issue jumpsuit.
When asked, he said he understood the proceedings against him. He was remanded in custody and will appear in court by video on Feb. 18.
A publication ban was ordered, as is typical in bail hearings, and the names of the sex assault victims cannot be published.
Ms. Lloyd was last heard from on the night of January 28, when she sent a text message to a family friend. She did not report for work in Napanee the next morning.
Her disappearance prompted a massive 48-hour air and ground search by police, the military and more than 100 volunteers.
Det. Ins. Nicholas said Williams was brought to the attention of police based on evidence gathered while questioning people along Highway 37 last Thursday night.
Police would not comment on possible links among the cases other than to say they took place within the same geographic area. They said they were looking at where Williams has been for the past several years and were continuing their investigation.
Lt.-Gen. André Deschamps, chief of air staff for the Canadian Forces, issued a statement saying "although one is considered innocent until proven guilty, in light of the seriousness of the charges, and in consideration of the high level of responsibilities" attached to Williams' position, an interim wing commander for 8 Wing Trenton will be appointed to replace him.
A review will also be done by 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg to determine the most appropriate action pending the outcome of his trial, said the statement from Deschamps, chief of the air staff.
It was not immediately clear if the military has suspended Williams in the meantime, or if he will continue to be paid while he is relieved of his duties.
Williams joined the Canadian Forces in 1987 after earning a degree in economics and political science at the University of Toronto. He moved steadily up through the ranks, taking postings in Shearwater, N.S., and Ottawa and receiving his master's in defence studies at Royal Military College along the way. He became wing commander at CFB Trenton in 2009.