Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good Investigation, Bad Investigation - Colonel Russell Williams by Louis Evan Palmer

The investigators of the murder of Jessica Lloyd of Belleville, Ontario were direct & effective. They noticed tire tracks and noted some unusual characteristics about them. They took impressions. That could have been where it stayed - evidence but not connected or meaningful. They then took the brilliant step of erecting road blocks on the main nearby road on the same night the following week. They were assuming that the perpetrator was a local and that he was a creature of habit who would probably take the same road on the same day. They were right. A sharp-eyed officer noticed the tires on Col. Williams vehicle and that led to his arrest in the next few days.

Unfortunately, the investigators who did background checks into Colonel Williams were not nearly as thorough or effective in his case. The Globe and Mail turned up facts about Col. Williams which should have given the investigators and human resources officers in the Canadian military cause for concern.

For example, how common is it for a person to change their name in their late teens or early twenties?

The Globe article mentioned talking to Col. William's roommate at Upper Canada College (UCC). He's quoted as saying that Williams had no social skills, no apparent girlfriends or interest in girls or social life. Does that sound normal? Did the military investigators talk to this roommate?

By the time Williams was twenty, his mother was twice divorced. This is never a good thing for kids but for some divorce can be deeply disturbing. Again, the Globe quotes William's brother as saying the second divorce of his mother from Jerry Sovka created a huge lasting rift between Russell and his mother and brother. Yet, when he left UCC, Russell changed his name from Sovka back to Williams?

Frank Abagnale Jr., upon whom the movie "Catch Me If You Can" is based, stated that he started his life of crime (massive bank and occupational fraud) as a result of the divorce of his parents. The background check into Williams should have been looking for the negative consequences of these divorces as they can be severe.

The Toronto Star reported that Williams went to U of T's (University of Toronto) Scarborough campus, taking the same program and classes as notorious killer Paul Bernado and even being his friend. Either the military investigators didn't uncover this or found it unremarkable.

It was reported that Williams asked a neighbor about how to drop a puck for a face-off. This is someone who physically active, who's supposed to be Canadian, and yet hasn't seen a referee drop a puck enough to know how to do it himself. It indicates someone who although living in Canada for most of his life is unconnected enough to not know basic facts about our national winter sport.

On top of everything, apparently the military does not perform basic psychological evaluations such as standard tests for psychopaths or sociopaths.

Of course, keeping him out of the officer corps may not have prevented anything but it would definitely reduced his ability to operate and his cover and that may have saved a life. There's also the matter of the reputation of our Armed Forces.

Good Investigation, Bad Investigation - Colonel Russell Williams, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,


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Copyright 2010  Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.