Canada air force commander to plead guilty to murders

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Col Russell Williams
Image caption,
Col Russell Williams was one of the most senior commanders in Canada

The commander of Canada's largest air force base is to plead guilty to the murder of two women and the sexual assault of two others, his lawyer says.

Col Russell Williams once acted as pilot for Queen Elizabeth II and was in charge of Base Trenton in Ontario - Canada's busiest air force hub.

His lawyer told an Ontario court he would plead guilty to all charges.

He is also charged with 82 counts of breaking and entering. Prosecutors said he had stolen women's underwear.

One woman was found dead in her house in November 2009. The other went missing in January this year.

Col Williams was arrested on 7 February. He is expected to enter guilty pleas at his next court appearance later this month.

The murder victims were Marie Comeau, a 38-year-old corporal, who lived in Brighton, Ontario, and Jessica Lloyd, 27, a resident of Belleville, Ontario.

'Double life'

The colonel's arrest came after police canvassed motorists for information.

Col Williams was accused of burgling 47 homes, starting in 2007. Most of the targeted homes were in the same street, with one home burgled nine times.

The Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported that police had seized 500 items of women's underwear from Col Williams's home in Ottawa.

A biography on the Canadian Air Force website said Col Williams had enrolled in the Canadian Air Force in 1987 and gained his wings in 1990.

The air force commander oversaw logistical support for missions to Haiti and Afghanistan.

"He was able to lead an elaborate double life and was able to keep it successfully concealed," said a senior officer who once promoted Col Williams, retired Lt-Gen Angus Watt.