Russell Williams’ final victim: his wife

Russell Williams’ wife, Mary Elizabeth Harriman appears determined to hold on to what little is left

Russell Williams and wife Mary Elizabeth Harriman

Russell Williams and wife Mary Elizabeth Harriman


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As good pilots always do, Russell Williams stuck to a strict plan that Sunday afternoon: smile, don’t ask for a lawyer, and answer every last question (honestly or not, depending on the tactical benefit). In his mind, twisted as it is, he truly believed he could talk his way out of that tiny interrogation room.

When Det.-Sgt. Jim Smyth explained exactly what police were investigating—two home-invasion sexual assaults, the slaying of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, and the recent disappearance of Jessica Lloyd—Williams didn’t alter his strategy. He even agreed, without hesitation, to provide fingerprints, a DNA sample, and the brown leather boots on his feet. Anything to appear innocent.

Finally, after 2½ hours spent sitting across the same table, Smyth found the colonel’s weak spot: the gold wedding ring on his finger. “Another thing that can often happen in cases like this is that people become concerned about things like extramarital affairs,” he said. “Is there any contact you may have had with any of those four women that you may not want your wife to be aware of?”

For the first time, Williams looked insulted. He took a deep breath and shifted in his chair. “Absolutely not.”

He didn’t know it, but his wife of 18 years—Mary Elizabeth Harriman, a senior executive at the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada—was already staring at the truth: a team of officers inside her home, searching for signs of a serial predator. They arrived on Feb. 7, 2010 at 5:36 p.m., the exact moment Williams was scoffing at the notion he might be an unfaithful husband.

As the interview wore on, Williams would mention his wife again and again. When Smyth asked about the tires on his Nissan Pathfinder, he said “we” put them on because “our” dealership recommended them. When asked about his whereabouts on the night of Nov. 24, 2009 (Comeau was murdered early that morning), Williams recalled how he and Harriman dined at a restaurant in Ottawa’s Westboro district, where their new townhouse—the one now swarming with cops—was under construction. “I kissed my wife goodbye and headed back to Tweed,” he said.

The couple had been living a temporary commuter marriage, connecting mostly on weekends, since Williams took charge of CFB Trenton seven months earlier, in July 2009. He spent Monday to Friday at their Tweed, Ont., cottage, a 45-minute drive from the base, while she remained in Ottawa, 200 km away. Their cat, Rosebud, stayed with her.

As the clock approached 6 p.m., Smyth went for the jugular. He told his suspect the tires on his SUV matched a set of tracks left in the snow near Lloyd’s house. He then pulled out a sheet of paper depicting two footprints: one from Lloyd’s backyard, the other from the bottom of Williams’s boot. “These are identical,” Smyth said.

The commander of Canada’s largest and most important air force base stared at the paper, his brain spinning. When he finally did open his mouth—”Well, I don’t know what to say”—Smyth played the one card that would bring Williams to his knees. “Right now, there’s a search warrant being executed at your residence in Ottawa, okay. So your wife now knows what’s going on.”

The colonel would not confess for another 90 minutes, but sensing he was cornered, his primary concern was not himself or his victims or Lloyd’s distraught family. It was Mary-Liz. “I’m struggling with how upset my wife is right now,” he said, taking another deep breath. “I’m concerned that they’re tearing apart my wife’s brand new house.”

At 7:40 p.m., nearly five hours after it all began, Williams caved. “I want to, um, minimize the impact on my wife,” he said.

“So do I,” Smyth answered.

“So how do we do that?”

“Well, you start by telling the truth.”

Thirty seconds ticked by. “Okay.”

Her only crime was trusting himUsing a map, Williams pointed to a rural road north of his cottage where, a few steps into the frigid woods, Lloyd’s lifeless body was lying in the snow. She had been there for five days and five nights.

“Russ, you’re doing the right thing here,” Smyth said, extending his right arm.

Reluctantly, Williams shook the detective’s hand. “Well, again,” he said. “My interest is in making my wife’s life a little easier.”

It was way too late, of course. His wife’s life was already shattered—solely because of him—and a belated burst of honesty wasn’t going to soften the shock. Her entire world was suddenly a lie. The man in her bed was someone else.

Later that night, the confessed killer wrote a note to his devastated spouse. “Dearest Mary Elizabeth,” it began. “I love you, Sweet [illegible]. I am so very sorry for having hurt you like this. I know you’ll take good care of sweet Rosie. I love you, Russ.”

Did he truly love her? Does he still? Can someone so absolutely evil—a man who sticks duct tape over a woman’s face, and films her last breath—be capable of love? A man who loves his wife doesn’t spend their wedding anniversary breaking into another woman’s house. A man who loves his wife doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day by trying to pry open a neighbour’s basement window.

And a man who loves his wife doesn’t sit at their home computer and watch video footage of Jessica Lloyd’s final few hours—knowing her heartbroken family is praying she walks through the door. “He would have absolutely no idea what the word love really means,” Debra Lloyd, Jessica’s aunt, said during Williams’s sentencing hearing last October. “He certainly couldn’t have loved any of his own family members, because now they have to live with his crimes and shame.”

No one more than Mary Elizabeth Harriman.

The man she knew, after all, was not a callous, calculating stalker who snuck into dozens of bedrooms and pilfered hundreds of panties, bras and bathing suits. In her eyes, he was the rookie pilot who spent weekends driving from Moose Jaw to Calgary to see her. He was the blond, handsome groom at the end of the aisle, waiting to take her hand. He was her golfing partner. Her friend. Her distinguished of?cer. When Williams hosted his first wing commander’s Christmas ball in November 2009—just four days after killing Cpl. Comeau—his wife was at his side, mingling with a smile and a glass of wine.

Did she notice anything strange? Was he depressed? Distant? Did he say or do anything that, in hindsight, may have offered a glimpse into his other world? Only Harriman knows for sure, and although she has never spoken publicly (and likely never will), she has no doubt spent the past 14 months trying to answer those very same questions.

But it’s the questions about her that will not go away. As desperate as Harriman is to salvage what’s left of her reputation and her future, her husband’s heinous double life—and her failure to spot it—continues to fascinate. A second U.S. network is about to air a prime-time special, and the first book has hit store shelves—claiming, among other revelations, that Williams “had not had sex with his wife for years.” Her divorce application is just the latest public spectacle, ballooning into a battle over the media’s right to see her private financial records, including the post-arrest “domestic contract” she signed with Williams that gave her full ownership of the $700,000 Westboro townhouse.

Her only crime was trusting him
Harriman’s own behaviour—driven by an admitted concern for her “financial security”—has won her little public sympathy. She has visited her notorious husband in prison. She complained that detectives scratched her hardwood floors, leading the Ontario Provincial Police to cut her a cheque for $3,000. And she is being sued by Williams’s first sexual assault victim, who claims the “secret” townhouse transfer was “fraudulent.”

Regardless of the outcome (or whether her divorce proceeds in secret) one question will follow Harriman forever: how did you not know? Williams’s alter ego was so depraved, so all-encompassing, that it’s natural to wonder how she could have been so blind. In cyberspace, where Harriman’s character has been attacked in ways that could never be repeated in this magazine, the verdict is nearly unanimous: if he were my husband, I would have known.

But the truth, according to the mountain of evidence now on the public record, is that the ex-colonel’s wife was indeed another victim—fooled by a man whose greatest gift was his ability to lie. In fact, as consumed as Williams was with his vile fantasies, he was equally obsessed with shielding his dark secret from Mary-Liz. He stashed stolen lingerie in basement boxes and military duffel bags. He buried his crime scene photos, thousands of them, in a “deeply nested and complex series of subfolders” on their computer. And he told his wife that all those late-night walks helped stretch out his aching back.

If only she had peeked inside that pillowcase in her garage, the one stuffed with stolen underwear. If only she was more suspicious, especially after two sexual assaults just down the road from their cottage. If only she was more curious.
But Harriman’s only crime was that she trusted her husband, like so many wives do.

They met in the late 1980s, when Williams was still a young lieutenant learning his way around the cockpit. Though stationed at CFB Moose Jaw, he was actually introduced to his future bride during a visit to Calgary, where Harriman was living at the time. The spark was instant, and before long Williams was spending every spare moment behind the wheel of his red Honda Civic, driving eight hours to see her (and eight hours back).

Her only crime was trusting him“I remember him saying: ‘I think she could be the one,’ ” says Jeff Farquhar, a close friend from Williams’s university days. “They had a lot of things in common, and he could talk easily with her about any topic under the sun. He just felt completely at ease with her.”

There was an age gap (Harriman is five years older) but their personalities matched perfectly. Both were mature, extremely organized, and shared a passion for exercising and eating right. Williams and his washboard stomach jogged every day and never drank more than two beers at a time, while Harriman, an avid swimmer with a degree in nutrition, was at the start of a career dedicated to improving the health of all Canadians. (Even back in high school, she seemed destined for a job at the Heart & Stroke Foundation; in her graduating yearbook, she listed “fattening foods” as her pet peeve.)

What the couple didn’t share, though, was a similar upbringing.

Born in England in 1963, Williams spent his early childhood in Deep River, Ont., a small but smug town full of scientists and engineers conducting cutting-edge research at the nearby nuclear labs (his father, David, is a metallurgist). By his seventh birthday, however, Williams’s mom and dad were on the brink of a divorce that was anything but typical: his parents not only split up, but swapped partners with another husband and wife in the neighbourhood.

Williams and his younger brother, Harvey, stayed with their mother, Nonie, and their new stepfather, Jerry Sovka, an acclaimed nuclear engineer whose work took the family from Scarborough to South Korea. Williams moved so often as a teenager that he attended three different high schools, including Grades 12 and 13 in the dorms of the prestigious Upper Canada College. By the time he enrolled at the University of Toronto, he was well accustomed to fending for himself.

His wife-to-be was raised in Madsen, Ont., a mining town northwest of Thunder Bay. Her father, Frederick—a war hero whose regiment stormed Juno Beach on D-Day—was chief geologist at Madsen Red Lake Gold Mines Ltd., a respected position in a town that relied so heavily on one industry. Irene, his wife of 47 years, was the love of his life.

Their only daughter, pretty and smart, was a high school honours student with a close group of friends and no plans to stay in northern Ontario. After graduation, she enrolled at the University of Guelph, earning a degree in applied science with a specialty in human nutrition, and later an M.B.A. By all accounts, Fred and Irene were infinitely proud of her achievements—and welcomed Williams into the family with open arms. “Russ spoke very highly of Mary-Liz’s parents,” Farquhar recalls. “He was very fond of them.”

In 1990, when Williams was assigned an instructor’s post at the air force flying school at CFB Portage la Prairie, Harriman joined him in Manitoba. They shared a house close to the base, and a black and white kitten named Curio (short for Curiosity). The following year—June 1, 1991—the couple exchanged vows at an art gallery in Winnipeg. At their reception, the bride and groom would only kiss if a guest stepped up to the microphone and sang a love song.

Her only crime was trusting him
Farquhar was the emcee that night, and when the dancing began he remembers asking his friend about being a daddy. “He said: ‘No, it’s not going to happen, Jeff.’ I looked at him and saw how serious he was.” (A fellow flight instructor, who also attended the wedding, asked Williams the same question. “He said he didn’t want to put a kid in the kind of world we were living in.”)

A year later, Williams was posted to CFB Shearwater in Nova Scotia, where he met Jeffrey Manney, a fellow captain who, two decades later, would be interviewed by police. “The four of us spent a lot of time together: me and my wife, and he and Mary-Liz,” Manney recalls. “Mary-Liz is a fantastic individual, incredibly smart, and very, very nice. And Russ really was the same.”

Like Harriman, Manney knew the other Russ: the gifted pilot. The doting husband. The obsessive-compulsive neat freak who laughed at his own hang-ups. The cat lover whose cat didn’t always deserve the affection. “Curio was a bit nasty,” Manney says. “I don’t think she ever bit Russ or Mary-Liz, but pretty much everyone else got attacked.”

By 1995, Williams, Harriman and Curio were on the move again, this time to Ottawa. Career-wise, it was the ideal spot for both. Williams landed a coveted posting with the 412 Squadron, the Challenger unit that ferries prime ministers and other VIPs across the country, while Harriman joined the Heart & Stroke’s national head office. They settled in the suburb of Orléans, building a two-storey home on a corner lot.

“They were wonderful neighbours,” says Theresa Gagné, who lived next door for 13 years. “Mary Elizabeth was very friendly with everyone. She was full of life, and loved to laugh.” George White, another neighbour, jokingly called them DINKs (double income, no kids). “Mary-Liz would say: ‘We’ve got our cat,’ ” he says. “That was their baby.”

Williams flew Challengers during the Chrétien era and, when he left the unit in 1999, the prime minister gave him an autographed portrait. (He signed it “Jean.”) Williams, who used one of the upstairs bedrooms as a home office, hung the photo on the wall, right next to the one of deputy PM Sheila Copps. In 2005, he would add the Queen to his wall of fame. “Russ was humble pie all the way,” says Farquhar. “He never bragged, and he was never in your face about what he achieved.”

Mary-Liz was no different. Like her husband, she was as modest as she was talented. While Williams was piloting senior politicians, Harriman was working behind the scenes to help launch “Health Check,” the red and white food label that tells Canadians whether their groceries meet nutritional standards. It was Harriman who helped convince dieticians to endorse the new initiative, now a staple on supermarket shelves across the country. “Maybe nobody in the media knew about her, but certainly a lot of us knew about her and very much appreciated her,” says William Tholl, the foundation’s former CEO.

As their professional lives flourished, though, Williams and Harriman endured some personal struggles. In September 2000, Mary-Liz’s mom died of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Shortly after, Williams’s mother and stepfather filed for divorce, three decades after their awkward beginnings in Deep River. The breakup infuriated Russ, triggering what Harvey Williams would later call “a deep rift between him and my mother and myself.” Russ would remain close with his father, but in the decade before his arrest he rarely spoke to his mom or brother.

Life moved on. Both were promoted (Williams to major; Harriman to Heart & Stroke’s associate executive director) and their careers kept them busy. Among many other things, Harriman co-authored a brie?ng for the Romanow commission on health care, helped launch the Canadian Stroke Strategy (a coalition that aims to build a nationwide approach to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation), and was praised in the House of Commons for her tireless advocacy work—twice.

The summer of 2004 was especially hectic—and emotional. Harriman’s father passed away at the age of 84, just as Williams was being promoted to lieutenant-colonel and reassigned to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, a three-hour drive from their Orléans home. On July 13, Fred was buried in the same cemetery plot as Irene; six days later, his son-in-law officially took command of the 437 Transport Squadron, the Airbus unit that ?ies troops, supplies and VIPs overseas.

Her only crime was trusting himFor the first time since those long drives between Moose Jaw and Calgary, Williams and Harriman were living apart. They were anxious to buy a piece of property near CFB Trenton, something that could double as a temporary bunk for Williams and a long-term cottage for both. By summer’s end, they found the place: a $178,000 waterfront bungalow in the sleepy village of Tweed, Ont.

Over the next 16 months, Williams would spend most weeknights alone on Cosy Cove Lane. On weekends, either he drove back to Orléans or Mary-Liz visited the cottage. “They were like kids, the two of them—always walking hand in hand,” says Ron, who lives next door to the cottage with his wife, Monique. “If he was out doing the weeding, she was sitting in a chair reading a book, watching him. His first concern was always his wife.”

The new neighbours became quick friends. Williams ice-fished with Ron and his son (“You wouldn’t believe how good he was at filleting fish—like a doctor,” Ron says) and learned to play cribbage at their kitchen table. Ron’s daughter, still in elementary school at the time, was the teacher.

“Tell me what I did wrong,” Williams said during one of those early crib tutorials.

“Well, normally you wouldn’t start with a five,” the girl answered. It became their inside joke. Well, normally…

In December 2005, after flying Queen Elizabeth II on her Western Canadian tour, Williams deployed on a six-month tour to Camp Mirage, the military’s logistics base in Dubai. When he returned home, the air force transferred him to DND headquarters, bringing an end to his solo nights at the cottage.

It was during that stint back in Orléans, in 2007, when Williams and Harriman faced a heartbreaking decision: Curio, their beloved cat, had to be euthanized. Devastated, they paid a vet to come to the house so she wouldn’t have to die in a strange place.

“He had tears in his eyes telling us about that cat,” says Ron, the Tweed neighbour. He remembers it so well because his mother-in-law was gravely ill around the time Curio died, and shortly after that, in September 2007, the whole family drove to Sudbury to visit Monique’s mom one last time.

While they were away, Williams turned his fantasies into reality for the first time.

It’s impossible to know whether the loss of his cat helped trigger his depraved descent. At the time, Williams was also suffering from a sudden bout of chronic joint pain and popping a cocktail of prescription drugs. The backaches had become so fierce, friends say, that he had trouble sitting for 30 minutes at a time, and feared his career in the cockpit could be over. (Even during his videotaped confession, there were moments when he leaned against a wall.)

Her only crime was trusting himBut Williams himself has never offered an explanation for his crimes. As he told Det-Sgt. Smyth: “I don’t know the answers and I’m pretty sure the answers don’t matter.” All that’s certain is what he did—and the lengths he went to keep his wife from finding out.

Williams walked through his neighbours’ open front door and headed for the bedroom of the same 12-year-old girl who taught him to play crib. He spent three hours inside, snapping pornographic self-portraits as he combed through her drawers and played with her underwear. When he left after midnight, he took six items with him.

Clearly, he chose a safe target for his first strike. He knew the family was gone, knew they didn’t lock the front door, and knew his way around the house. As noted in the agreed statement of facts read at his sentencing hearing, the neighbours “considered Mr. Williams and Ms. Harriman friends.”

What the statement doesn’t say, however, is whether Harriman was at the cottage that weekend. In fact, most of the counts laid out in the 96-page document make no mention of her at all. But based on Williams’s military postings, it is certain that over the next 2½ years, as he graduated from fetish burglar to serial killer, he was with his wife more than he wasn’t. So he concocted an alibi: he told her that his late-night strolls helped soothe his sore back before bed.

Did she ever wonder why he carried his digital camera on those walks? Did she even notice it?

Over the next two months, Williams would commit another four robberies in Tweed, stealing dozens more pieces of lingerie. Back in Ottawa—in the home office decorated with portraits of Chrétien and the Queen—he downloaded his self-portraits to his Mac desktop computer. The bedroom he shared with Mary-Liz was just steps away.

As the months wore on, the urges intensified. At one house in Tweed, he spent 30 minutes picking the lock. At another, he felt so comfortable rifling through the dressers that he would return eight more times. On June 1, 2008—his 17th wedding anniversary—he walked out of a neighbour’s house with yet another handful of lingerie.

By then, Williams was also targeting homes in Orléans, the obsessive-compulsive routine always the same: photos of the bedroom, photos of himself naked and masturbating, photos of the items methodically folded and displayed, like a store shelf. In October 2008, he snapped a shot of himself wearing a pair of pink panties underneath his air force blues. A few days later, he spent an entire Sunday morning inside his house, taking shots of the items he robbed the night before.

That New Year’s Eve, a few minutes after the ball dropped on Times Square, Williams slipped on his winter boots and went for another of his “back-stretching” walks, stopping at the house of a 15-year-old girl around the corner from his Orléans house. He stole 68 pieces of clothing—then returned the very next night. A month later, on Valentine’s Day, he tried to slink through another neighbour’s window, but fled when the alarm went off.

Where exactly was Mary-Liz when all this was happening? Was she naive? Disinterested? Was her marriage, as Timothy Appleby’s new book suggests, a sexless partnership “of convenience”? Close friends have told Maclean’s that after two decades together (and many nights apart) the couple was still very much in love. And it seems that as far as Harriman knew, Williams had a perfectly good excuse for roaming the streets after dark: his sore back. “He never gave Mary-Liz a reason not to trust him,” Farquhar says. “He was not the guy out there at the bar, being a jackass and being derogatory toward women.”

Her only crime was trusting himBut in secret, he was something far, far worse. On June 20, 2009, he broke into another Orléans home, a property so close it can be seen from his backyard. He spent almost three hours in the bedroom of a 24-year-old woman, trying on her underwear and lying on her bed while clicking away at his camera. He took 186 pieces of clothing. The next day, Williams meticulously photographed and downloaded each of his trophies, cataloguing them in a series of computer subfolders (“Basement laundry,” “Bedroom,” “Spare room”) stored deep within his hard drive. As one prosecutor said during the sentencing hearing: “He kept everything hidden in file folders so that his wife would never discover the evidence of his criminal activities.”

As for the underwear, it all depended on the scene of the crime. In Orléans, he stuffed his souvenirs into computer boxes in the basement—boxes he knew Harriman would never look in. In Tweed, his hiding place was a green military duffel bag, the kind that soldiers and airmen keep packed in case of a short-notice assignment. Why would Harriman ever think to look inside?

In the summer of 2009, Williams was given even more freedom to feed his alter-ego: his promotion to Trenton wing commander meant he would once again be living alone at the cottage. At the time, he and his wife were also in the process of selling their place in Orléans and building, in Williams’s words, Harriman’s “dream” home. She was at the base for his swearing-in ceremony on July 15, sitting in the front row as the outgoing colonel handed her a bouquet of flowers. But in the months to come, Harriman would spend most nights at different friends’ houses in Ottawa, waiting out the construction. She only came to Tweed on weekends.

Williams told Det.-Sgt. Smyth that his behaviour began to “escalate” with Mary-Liz out of town. He “wanted to take more risks.” He ran naked into a woman’s house while she took a shower. He stalked a 14-year-old girl. And in the early morning hours of Thursday, Sept. 17, Williams worked up the nerve to commit his first sexual assault—blindfolding a terrified young mother and snapping photos while her baby slept in a nearby room.

That Saturday, Harriman was back at the cottage. So was Jeffrey Manney, Williams’s old friend from their CFB Shearwater days. The three attended a Belleville Bulls hockey game, where Williams dropped the ceremonial first puck, then drove back to the cottage for a late dinner. “It was just a nice, pleasant evening,” Manney recalls. “We had a lovely talk, the three of us. We just reminisced.”

Eventually, Williams started getting dressed for his nightly stroll. “Mary-Liz actually said he goes for these walks to get his back sorted out before he sleeps,” Manney says, repeating the same words he told police after the arrest. “I just kind of went ‘okay,’ and went to bed.”

Her only crime was trusting himHis pal returned to the home of his assault victim. Her boyfriend was inside, so Williams kept walking. “I ask myself: ‘How did I befriend someone who could have done these things?’ ” Manney says now. “He loved his wife, he was always a nice guy, and I just don’t know how. I can’t put the two people together. I can’t.”

In public, Williams said all the right things. After his second sexual assault—on Laurie Massicotte, a Tweed neighbour just three doors down—he told numerous people that his wife was spooked by the recent attacks.

Less than two months later, on a Monday night in late November, Harriman was sleeping at yet another friend’s house for the week. Three hundred kilometres away, in the small town of Brighton, her husband was hiding in a basement, a balaclava covering his face.

What he did to Cpl. Marie-France Comeau over the next four hours was captured on a video recording that is now stored in a locked room at OPP headquarters. In it, Comeau fought like a soldier would, despite being tied up and horrifically beaten. In her final minutes of life, the 37-year-old begged for mercy. “I don’t deserve to die,” she told Williams. “Have a heart, please.” He stuck tape over her nostrils and watched her stop breathing.

Williams left the house before sunrise (with nine pieces of her lingerie) and drove straight to Ottawa for an 8:30 a.m. meeting. That night, Nov. 24, he met his wife for dinner. As they ate, Comeau’s body was still waiting to be discovered. Williams would tell police that they chose a restaurant in Westboro that “we would expect to be able to frequent once the house was finished.” Harriman was so excited that she had amassed a pile of home decor magazines, with Post-it notes pointing to the style ideas she wanted to try.

That Saturday, Harriman joined Williams at the Trenton officers’ mess for the Christmas ball. “Mary Elizabeth was a great lady to talk to, about as friendly as you could ever ask for,” says one person who attended. “He was working the room, and she was, too.”

Two days later, Nov. 30, Williams was back in front of the computer (now at the cottage during the construction), uploading his new video footage. He labeled the ?le “MFC.mov”—Marie-France Comeau.

The Westboro townhouse was finally finished in early December 2009, and whether it was the hours spent unpacking or the realization that he was now a killer, Williams the predator went dormant for two months, his longest break in nearly two years. When he did decide to strike again—on Jan. 28, 2010, at the rural Belleville home of Jessica Lloyd—his wife was once again a safe distance away.

He used the same Hi-8 videotapes to capture his attack on Lloyd, recording over the footage of Comeau. And again, he brought along his Sony digital camera, snapping an astounding 325 photos. His BlackBerry was never far away, either. After abducting Lloyd and driving her to his cottage, Williams emailed a subordinate, claiming he had the flu—and that no one should tell Mary-Liz if she phoned the office, which she often did.

Williams promised Lloyd she would survive as long she obeyed his orders, and she complied in every possible way. At one point, during an apparent seizure, the 27-year-old wept as the camera rolled. “I don’t want to die, please,” she said. “If I die will you make sure my mom knows that I love her.”

Williams—the same man who made sure his cat died in a peaceful setting—clubbed Lloyd with a flashlight and left her body in his garage. He then steered his Pathfinder back to the base for a few hours of sleep before an early Saturday morning flight. (He was scheduled to transport a unit of troops to California for a training exercise). When he landed back in Trenton later that night, he drove straight to Ottawa, where, in his words, he and Mary-Liz spent the weekend “putting together the new house.”

But he did find time to flip through separate Facebook pages set up to honour Comeau and search for Lloyd. He also uploaded his latest footage into two files: “JEL1of2.mov” and “JEL2of2.mov”—Jessica Elizabeth Lloyd. It wasn’t until late Tuesday night, four days after the murder, that Williams returned to Tweed and dumped her in the woods.

On the morning of Feb. 9, 2010, just 36 hours after Williams confessed, Lt.-Cmdr. Stephen Merriman steered his car into the parking lot of the Quinte West Detention Centre. As the senior chaplain at CFB Trenton, it was his duty to make sure the colonel—at the time, still a serving member—was offered pastoral care. They met in a small room, no Plexiglas, and Williams was dressed in his new uniform: an orange jumpsuit.

Her only crime was trusting him“There were certainly tears when his concern came up for Mary Elizabeth,” the padre recalls. “I never doubted the concern, the deep concern, that he had for his wife.” (Merriman only agreed to speak to Maclean’s because his visit is mentioned briefly in the agreed statement of facts).

Williams was so anxious to get the police out of his townhouse—and his wife back in—that he told the padre to point detectives to the piano in his cottage. Inside, he said, they would find two videotapes and a camera memory card, each one containing graphic proof of his guilt. “It was all about the care for his wife,” Merriman says. “He was very sincere, and wanted the best for her. I never doubted that.”

Williams’s attempt to speed up the search was futile; officers would spend the next nine days combing through his properties. In Tweed, when they unzipped the green duffel bag, 300 pieces of lingerie spilled out. In the basement of the new townhouse they found a blue and white Epson printer box, where Williams stored only bras and panties from the four women he attacked (Jane Doe, Massicotte, Comeau and Lloyd). Investigators also discovered a pillowcase in the corner of the garage. It contained five pairs of panties, one bra, two vibrators, two pajama bottoms, a slip, and two pairs of children’s underwear.

Williams told Smyth he was planning to dispose of his underwear stash the exact same day he was called to come to the Ottawa police station for questioning. But it’s not clear how long that pillowcase was actually sitting in the garage.

The motherlode—his two 500-gigabyte computer hard drives—were hidden in the basement ceiling. Stored inside, in neatly catalogued but thoroughly concealed folders, were thousands of crime-scene snapshots and both videos. One photo, taken just days before the confession, shows Williams’s computer screen with two open browsers. One is a news article discussing Lloyd’s disappearance; the other is a video clip of her assault.

Harriman will never understand the nightmare Jessica Lloyd endured inside her cottage. Or the raw desperation of Marie-France Comeau, pleading with Williams to “get out, get out.” And she is certainly not Roxanne Lloyd, forced to stare down her daughter’s killer—in a packed courtroom that did not include any trace of Mary Elizabeth Harriman. “I am tortured every time I think about the fear and horror that Jessica must have gone through the last hours of her life,” Roxane said that day on the stand. “If there was any way that I could have spared Jessica from what was done to her, I would have.”

Harriman is living a much different hell, but one no less real. A smart, successful woman who dedicated her career to prolonging the lives of others was married to a man who ended them—with unspeakable brutality. To say she has been utterly betrayed and humiliated does not begin to describe her anguish. No matter what she does, no matter how hard she tries to outrun the notoriety, she will always be his wife. Imagine the guilt. Imagine being told that after your husband videotaped his first homicide, he took you out for dinner.

Imagine realizing that his repulsive trophies were right under your nose the entire time, begging to be discovered.

Harriman is not the first woman to be told that her seemingly perfect husband was actually a two-faced predator. John Wayne Gacy (a.k.a. “The Killer Clown”) kept his murder spree hidden from his spouse. So did Gary Ridgway, the infamous “Green River Killer” who claimed at least four dozen victims. As his wife, Judith Mawson, said in a recent television interview, Ridgway made her “feel like a newlywed every day.”

The same could be said about Russ Williams. After Harriman’s father passed away, he surprised Mary-Liz by having his Second World War medals professionally mounted and framed. And when she wanted to build that dream home, he was happy to oblige.

“Woman after woman after woman that I’ve encountered in these cases—and I’ve been doing this for 35 years—knew nothing,” says Louis Schlesinger, a leading forensic psychologist. “I absolutely believe them. Leading a double life is very, very typical. It’s the rule rather than the exception.”

It doesn’t matter that Williams was a high-ranking, universally respected colonel with a sense of humour and a natural ability to lead. People still cling to the false belief that all predators come with greasy hair and dirty trench coats. It makes us feel safe to think we can spot the monster in our midst.

Which helps explain why Harriman’s name now generates 145,000 Google hits. Judging her from afar—if she just looked in the printer box, he could have been stopped—is strangely comforting. “Most people believe they can detect deviance or deception by looking at or talking to someone,” Schlesinger says. “It’s not true. But people want to believe that because it gives them a sense of security.”

If Williams really did love his wife, the publicity she has endured—a “never-ending onslaught,” according to her lawyer—is his harshest punishment. As her psychiatrist wrote in a recent affidavit, the 53-year-old is in a “vulnerable emotional state,” and “if pushed further by constant invasions of her privacy, there is a very strong possibility that Harriman will deteriorate and be incapable of functioning at her current level of ability.” (And that was before Appleby’s book was released, reporting that Williams “had not had sex with his wife for years.”)

Harriman’s only public comments have come in her own affidavit, filed in response to the lawsuit launched by her husband’s first victim. She insists she “had absolutely no intention whatsoever” of fraudulently acquiring Williams’s assets, including the townhouse. “At all times my intent in executing the conveyance was to provide for my financial security,” she wrote. “The revelation of these charges has been devastating to me.”

Was their marriage strained? Were they essentially living separate lives, even when they were under the same roof? Was there ever a moment, however brief, when Harriman wondered: what is Russ really doing during all those walks?

Does she regret filing that complaint about her hardwood floors? Was it done in a moment of hysterical desperation, before the details of her husband’s crimes had sunk in? Does she want to say something to his victims, but can’t quite yet? Does she understand why people want to hear her side of the story?

For now, all that’s certain is that Williams’s wife is determined to hold on to what little is left. She has filed for divorce. She is still living in her dream home with Rosebud, the cat they adopted after Curio died. And she has returned to her desk at the Heart & Stroke Foundation, where colleagues have been nothing but supportive. On Oct. 21—the very same day her husband was driven in shackles to a solitary cell at Kingston Penitentiary—Harriman’s name appeared on the charity’s updated list of registered lobbyists.

Maclean’s has also learned that she has offered to settle the property dispute out of court, not only with Jane Doe, but with Laurie Massicotte and other victims traumatized by her husband. Mike Pretsell, a lawyer who represents Jane Doe, would not confirm the negotiations. “I want that issue determined on its merits,” he says. “I don’t want to be seen as extorting money from Ms. Harriman by embarrassing her further.”

Neither does Laurie Massicotte. Williams snuck into her living room and held her hostage for three hours, stripping her with a knife and forcing her to pose for his camera. Eighteen months later, she continues to be haunted by the memory of it all, and the guilt of knowing that she survived while others didn’t.

Massicotte is sure that Harriman lives with her own deep sense of guilt—that she blames herself for failing to recognize her husband’s true identity. “Hopefully some day she will be able to forgive herself,” Massicotte says. “For me, that’s my biggest hurdle to get over: forgiving myself. So I just hope and pray she can someday forgive herself, too.”




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Russell Williams’ final victim: his wife

  1. Unfortunately I have no sympathy for Williams' wife. How petty can one be after the devestation, horror & sorrow he caused that's she's concerned with scratches on her floor. This shows incredible callousness, no empathy & it would appear her & Williams were a good match. If this is the type of person the Heart & Stroke leads with, they won't get any more of my money. How vile & vulgar is her actions. Not once did she say to the victims' families her regret. She visits him in jail. Before he is arrested I read she was colluding to have the house changed into her name. A repugnant person with an ego like his..only thinking of her own skin.

    • You have no idea what you're talking about. All the better that you decided to just type in "guest." I hope you enjoy the view from way up there.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • I know that what "guest" said is in the hearts and minds of the majority. The hearts and minds of the majority is rarely compassionate in such situations. Also, the premise of the above article is that perhaps what is in the hearts and minds of the majority is unfair to Ms. Harriman, and that people should strive toward a little more understanding.

          Given the information that we know, I will say that no reasonable person ought to ever say or imply that Ms. Harriman is somehow guilty of something that led to the death of others. That is ridiculous, and if you weren't anonymous, I would demand you retract that statement.

          Ms. Harriman wanted the people of Ontario to pay for her hardwood? First, its a drop in the bucket to the people of Ontario. Besides, to reason from that that she cares more about her floors than the lives shattered by her husband is outrageous. The two things simply are not connected.

          You think I'm depraved based on what I wrote above? Well, then I can't imagine what you think about Ms. Harriman. Do I support Russell? Absolutely not. But while I don't expect you to be able to understand this, and I also suspect that you will use it to jump to all sorts of conclusions about me and my thinking that simply are not true, I do feel compassion for Russell.

          By the way, did you read the article?

          • Who would have guessed. jona not such a twit. well said.

          • I agree. She wouldn't be the first to be fooled by a depraved but clever and deceitful spouse.

          • i can make some conclusions about you… sinec you brought it up, you work for the gov ", its a drop in the bucket to the people of Ontario" also it looks like you have a personal relationship to this scum "Do I support Russell?" also you have rich parents your most likely rich yourself ( not rich but somewhere around the 125y mark) only sheltered people left wing people are so quick to forgive sex offenders " people should strive toward a little more understanding." ps have fun at church on sunday

    • I absolutely agree with you and your clear thinking. The number of people already here who think Ms. Harriman is completely innocent and write in support of her are appalling. I do not believe she is without blame it and never will. Michael Edelson, the lawyer, would be behind the scheme to shield the assets and the reason the woman who was victimized by him is having a problem settling her case. The pension that Williams receives should be taken from him to help women/children/disadvantaged people. Any woman who ignores the type of activity that Williams was involved in, is guilty by association. I question her association and I do not believe these are the only crimes he committed.

      • ditto

    • This comment was deleted.

      • I don't support her-not at all. She has not said a word, publicly. If my husband had done such a thing, and I really knew nothing about his behavior, I would gather the press and announce my innocence and apologies to the families. The only thing she has done is to lay low and cover her financial assets. This is a warm, loving, intelligent, caring person? Not in my book.

        • totally agree

          • If you are a relative of Jessica Lloyd, my heart goes out to you and your family, and friends of your beautiful Jessica. It was a senseless act of a depraved individual. There are no words to describe that vile man.
            The victims here are the women who were attacked, without provocation, violated, murdered, in cold blood, and coldly left. How horrific is that? And we are expected to view Ms. Harriman, in her new home, freshly replaced flooring, with her pension-sucking husband safely tucked away in prison, as a victim? It's disgusting.

    • for some reason any post i put up is flaged. they have have been in realtion to the true nature of a victim. and how this women in this case is not. im hoping that they are reposted. if you work for macleans and are involved in filtering posts you should that this would be the kind of thing that gets you fired. there are two sides here one is standing up for real victims right and the other is working some pr bs. who do you think will fight harder and longer?

  2. I disagree, she's just a women, who has been humiliated in the most public of ways.

    I don't see how the police ruining her floors has anything to do with the victims, and if she wasn't justified in her complaint, she wouldn't have recieved the compensation, especially in a case with this high a profile.

    As for the financial deal, well, can't say i disagree with that either. It goes without saying that their relationship ended when she discovered he was a lunatic, his assets will (hopefully) all be confiscated… yet he is only really entitled to half the marital assets. Since he seems geniune and sane enough when it comes to his wife, I believe it was probably better they came to a quick agreement that they both might move on with their lives… such as they are.

  3. Did you guys actually read this article?

    “Woman after woman after woman that I've encountered in these cases—and I've been doing this for 35 years—knew nothing,” says Louis Schlesinger, a leading forensic psychologist. “I absolutely believe them. Leading a double life is very, very typical. It's the rule rather than the exception.”

    It doesn't matter that Williams was a high-ranking, universally respected colonel with a sense of humour and a natural ability to lead. People still cling to the false belief that all predators come with greasy hair and dirty trench coats. It makes us feel safe to think we can spot the monster in our midst.

    Which helps explain why Harriman's name now generates 145,000 Google hits. Judging her from afar—if she just looked in the printer box, he could have been stopped—is strangely comforting. “Most people believe they can detect deviance or deception by looking at or talking to someone,” Schlesinger says. “It's not true. But people want to believe that because it gives them a sense of security.”

    • It is nice to see that Guest2 is a much better reader, and much more reasonable, then his/her predecessor.

      • hey you… yeah jonatwitan you ….. i read some of your posts here and other places and your a funny little guy… spend alot of time online dont you. : ) if only the world knew just how great you are they would put you in charge in a flash eh… i know one day youll show them all just how great you are… but till then just going to be a smart mouth online eh?

  4. Is Ms. Harrison's negligence not being exaggerated just a tad? I can only speak for my self here, but I'm not in the habit of routinely searching all of the boxes in my garage for evidence.

  5. I am surprised that the people who are demanding a pound of flesh from Harriman are not also placing blame on Russell's family of origin. Surely his parents must have done something grevous to have raised a son capable of the monsterous acts he perpetrated. What of his siblings….best friends…close neighbors. I am sure we could twist logic to convince ourselves that all these people had if not knowledge of what he was doing, at least some inkling that he was a sociopath. Too bad he didn't procreate. We could blame his children for something too.

  6. I am standing by my opinion If the monster has significant wealth he should pay for his
    jailtime it should be in the SENTENCE !!!
    his wife and this monster went to layers and went into manoevers to write over properties so it is hers now…. that is why i say she somewhat partner in this messy business.
    Why property rights are sanctuary and untouchable!!! it is not right…

    • I hope for your sake that no one close to you ever does anything wrong, or by your logic you can be left penniless and homeless.

    • of course, the fact that she probably paid for the house herself, but had to have him on the mortgage agreement simply because legally they were married, doesn't mean a thing, does it? nor does the fact that she made more money than him or that SHE lived in the house, not him? That means nothing to people who think that a wife should be thrown out on the street because her husband ws a sociopaathic murderer. That must mean she was guilty too? guilt by association? She couldn't possibly be a victim, now could she? why, because he didn't beat her?

  7. People want to believe the best about those with whom they are close, and that desire is very powerful – powerful enough to blind someone.

    • Agreed… how many friends have you seen end up with partners that are clearly terrible for them, that logically they should leave this minute… but whom they "defend to the death" when challenged about them, even by the closest of friends and relatives.

      What's worse is this guy was a master manipulator… no one saw this coming, no one could give warnings… not one person in all this has come forward to say "I told you so."

      If this guy wasn't so phsychotic he would have made a great secret agent.

  8. I'm guessing this will be one of those articles that will get to 200-300 comments. Please folks, try to be respectful. This is a serious issue.

    • Thanks john, what would we do without your guidance?

  9. Harriman's settlement has blood splattered all over it. If she had any dignity, she would refuse any property from Rus. My first husband deceived me by leading a double life so I can attest to the fact that even astute women can be duped by such duplicitous and cunning planned behaviour. However, to accept money of any kind from him is deplorable.

  10. I don't think anyone believes that Harriman knew about his crimes, certainly not anything beyond his lingerie fetish. What people have a big problem with is that she is trying to hang on to more than her half of the marital assets. His half should be vulnerable to seizure by his victims as compensation.

    Her attitude is obviously that Williams owes her first priority on the list of those entitled to compensation from him. Any person with an ounce of empathy for others would beg to differ with her on that point. She may be just as cold, calculating and self-centered in her own way. We know that she'd rather see taxpayers suffer than go after Russ for her precious floors.

    • Knowing how much federal government employees make and how much criminal lawyer's charge, my guess is that ALL of Williams assets went to paying his legal bills. Ms. Harriman is in a high profile job, making a good wage. I disagree that she should lose her assets, when she likely contributed more than half to the marriage, because her husband is a murdering sociopath.

      Should she hang her head and be contrite for crimes she did not commit? Deep down, Jan, you like others, feel she owes the victims restitution when she did nothing to harm them.

      • As his wife, she is certainly entitled to her half of the marital assets and does not owe her husband's victims any restitution. What bothers many people, however, is that she seesm to be getting not just her share of the marital assets but his as well – assets which could otherwise be seized to compensate his victims.
        As for the floors – it seems to me that if your husband has just been arrested and charged with the most heinous crimes, a few scratches on your floor should the least of your concerns.

  11. Jan and Virginia, IS Harriman trying to hold on to more than half the marital assets? We don't know that because the domestic contract has not been made public. She is certainly entitled to half of all assets. She had a full-time well-paying executive job and contributed to their combined wealth. She is asking for ownership of their house in Ottawa, but I assume would not get the house in Tweed. Also the article mentions that she has offered to settle out of court with Williams' victims.

    Williams should be (and is being) punished to the full extent of the law. But if Harriman was unaware of his crimes (as you both seem to believe) it would be unjust to seize her assets to pay for his crimes. And it's unfair to expect her to acquiese to an injustice.

    • But Jay, we do know that one of his victims, who he raped and humiliated and abused but who lived to tell the tale, believes that Harriman ruthlessly made a deal to protect assets so that she, the rape victim, could not get anything from a civil suit. It just seems awfully rational and self-serving coming from a woman who has every ability to continue on in life with her terrific well-paid job.

      So is she one of the execs at Heart and Stroke who decided to sell that check mark that indicates a product is healthy to the highest bidders? Because that was a pretty freaking unethical decision, wasn't it? I mean, no she wasn't raping and killing, but she was willing to profit at the healthful expense of others.

      • why would the rape victim think she should get anything in a civil suit, the province pays her bills and even compensates her if she feels she is not capable of work? why should she get any more than any of the other thousands of rape victims in Ontario? Oh, because the rapist is someone of notoriety whose wife has a little money? Again, that 'victim' now wants to victimize someone else who is equally victim to this man.

    • Oh, yes, she wants it all…according to earlier reports and her affidavit, she paid Williams $60,000 and "gave" him the $120,000 cottage — AFTER she took out everything she wanted. The cottage is a murder scene – good luck selling it, Williams. Meanwhile, she keeps the cottage contents and the $700,000 home in Westboro. She's entitled to half his pension too, probably. And don't forget the newly-finished flooring!

      Poor, poor Mary-Liz! All she lost was a murdering pervert. Sounds like she's counting on coming out WAY ahead. She apparently offered the surviving victim $70,000 to shut up and go away.

      • Jan, is this so, the offer to pay off the victim? If so, that is disgusting.

        • Yes, Laurie Massicotte reported it in an interview this past week; she turned it down and is working with her lawyer.

          No one quibbles with Harriman keeping half the marital assets. But she should not be getting Williams' half as well. If she doesn't like it, she can sue him and get in line.

      • There is no pension, Jan. The military took it away.

        • OOPS! Me bad! Apparently there is a pension. Maybe he is keeping that. Do you know if she had any assets coming into the marriage? That would make a difference in the settlement. If she already owned an expensive home, she would get to keep more assets.

          • " If she already owned an expensive home, she would get to keep more assets. "

            I'm sorry, but that isn't correct, unless they had a premarital agreement. A good friend of mine married a woman who was on public assistance. He had a very good job and a home before he met her. After ten years of hell, for him, they were divorced. She got one-half of the value of the house, and other assets.

        • and where did you find that military pension information.better check that one out again. get the facts

          • I already admitted I had it wrong.

      • Jan, my guess is "poor Mary-Liz" would change places with you in a heartbeat. My question is would you change places with her…given how she has benefitted so much. No, I didn't think so. She is now infamous through no fault of her own. Everything she believed to be true has turned out to be a lie. People are demanding that she offer the victims and they families compensation for her soon to be ex-husband's brutality. However, when she does so, people like you and Patchouli call her actions disgusting and say she is paying people to "shut up and go away".

        • You seem to willfully misunderstand what people are saying, "Wealth Insider". What I am saying is this: Mary-Liz should not give up ANY of her own money, not one thin dime. She worked for it, it's hers. Half of everything they earned together is hers, too.

          But IF she is divorcing that killer (about whom you claim she never had a clue) then HIS half/money should go to the victims, NOT to her. 50/50 of all marital assets is normal in every division of property in a divorce. Got that so far? And if their property was damaged as a result of his crime, then he owes her. Neither you, me, or his victims should pay for that damage, but we all did.

          What I don't understand at all is why people like you think she should get his half, BEFORE his victims? Please explain that, it's really stumping people.

          No, I wouldn't change places with the lofty, social-climbing Mary-Liz. I pity her lack of human compassion and dysfunctional dearth insight into her own life. And if you know anything about what real-life compensation courts award for crimes like this, you will know that what Mr & Mrs Williams offered his survivor was a vile insult added to her horrendous injuries.

    • who is Harriman lawer? there is someone we should get on too : )

  12. I can't believe that people feel they can make character judgments about Harriman based on her reactions in the aftermath of a shock that no sane person could possibly imagine going through. If I was in a state of emotional devastation, I'd probably be trying to hang on to money and assetts too….for fear that I may never be able to work again and would need them to keep a roof over my head into old age. And then there's the fact that, you know, she loved this guy for years, and no matter how much of a monster he turned into, I'm sure it's not easy for her to just let go overnight. I'd love to know how many of the women here who are bad-mouthing Harriman have stuck it out with men who neglected them, disrespted them, cheated on them, or generally didn't love them as much as they loved the man. Not so easy to admit when it's not working out, is it? So why should a woman who had "the perfect marriage" for well over a decade be able to let go overnight?

    • She can nurse her memories the way she wants…. But she is after MONEY she isNOT entitled Russ's part should go to the crown….THIS IS WHITEWASH .I dobt that "perfect marrige" claim.

      • Are you sure she is not entitled to the assets. Did she had assets prior to coming into the marriage that he agreed at the time of the marriage that she could keep? Maybe there was a prenup.

        • You're awfully defensive of the indefensible, HI. Do you work with heart and stroke too?

          • No, I do not work at Heart and Stroke. I am just raising possibilities that you people have not even considered. You have really no idea what Ms. Harriman's financial situation is. Maybe is weighed down by credit card debt. Are you sure there aren't mortgages on the property in Ottawa – secured lines of credit, etc. The point is that everyone is making assumptions without the full information of support them.

      • Why should it go to the crown? If he died and left it to her in his will, it would be hers. In a divorce settlement it might be hers. Why should she have to settle for a lower socioeconomic status because of what he did? She's not charged and not guilty, and shouldn't have to pay.

  13. Has Mrs Harriman hired a pr team or something?

    This is second or third column I have read about Harriman as victim. While she might not have known what her husband was up to, I think it is sad and offensive that Harriman is trying to gain sympathy or overshadow proper victims of her husband.

    • Did we read the same article?? Ms. Harrisman did not participate in the article and is only the subject of the article. She has, understandably, not given any interviews. How is that "trying to gain sympathy"?

  14. Why must we endure another l-o-n-g article and photos of that person WIlliams? And WHY must the cover have a picture of that person and his wife?
    Let us be DONE with this murderer and not give him one more second of our time. Let us be done with recounting his crimes. He is in jail where he will stay until he dies. Is it not punishment enough for Canadians to have to PAY for this wretched person's food, shelter, clothing and 'protection' while he lives?
    Here's an idea! Tell me about the lives of his victims and stories of their childhood adventures and friends and activities. Tell me about the parents of victims and their families. Enough with glorifying the scum of the scum of our country.
    Let's elevate our minds out of the gutter.

    • I would like to see him serve a lot of time and then be put in with some cellmates, maybe they could serve better justice

      • nah, they'll probably just plunk him down with those other 2 infamous men, Olson and Bernardo who, I have been led to understand, have their own private wing.

  15. I dunno, people. Your husband goes for long walks alone at night, in the dark. You never offer to go with him? Or you do and he says no? And women start being raped right there where you live — still no curiousity about those walks?

    An astonishingly incurious woman.

    • Exactly!!!! For 2 years he took walks "alone" mostly at night and then within a few "doors" down of their very homes….rapes, robberies and weird things started to occur that surely the everyone talked to her about. Did she ever question and possibly put 2 + 2 together? Did she ever say to her perfect husband "honey I'm scared tonight so can you stay home with me"? How about buying a treadmill to cure his chronic back pain? 2 years = 730 nights and over 88 break-ins all within a 2 mile radius of her neighbourhood(s). Surely the Heart and Stroke foundation didn't hire no dummy.

      • I can only imagine a typical day in the life of the Williams household as being: Russ comes home from a long day of leading the Canadian Military, she comes home from a long day of assisting with serious health issues of Canadian people. They chat about their day, enjoy a nice dinner and watch the news then Russ retires to his private study for 3 hours to download child porn, photo's of him masturbating in a 12 year old neighbours bedroom, video of raping women and then heads to bed with is loving wife. Certainly after 18 years, she would "feel" some form of changes in her husband and his routine from the previous 15 years. So many questions which we may never know or why do we want to know? What is crazy is that he's still receiving FULL PENSION of $60,000 every year as there is no policy to cancel the entitlement, hmmm who in the Government is going to change this? The military burned his uniform, medals and any memorabilia of him, but they are forced to still pay him. Who's getting this money? I would suggest regular donations to Victim Services in lieu of canteen orders at Kingston Pen

        • I understood they cancelled his pension.

          • You keep saying this but you are wrong. They could not claw back his pension, or they would not.

          • He is still getting his pension

          • This is the second comment that you have made without checking your facts.
            He IS getting his pension. I suppose it isn't often that a retired base commander ends up in prison for murder, rape, child pornography, and breaking and entering. They haven't made an exemption clause for it., yet.

        • I agree his money should go to the victims

    • Patchouli – hate to burst your buble but many of us hard working, well-paid women, go to bed really early because we get up really early. Ms Harriman has a demanding job – I'm sorry she didn't know her husband was a sociopathic murdering rapist or she might have stayed up and insisted on accompanying him on his "walks". Think about your spouse – how much do you monitor his/her movements? Could she/he be carrying on a long-term affair? It happens all the time and people are caught unware. Why? It is called "trust". If you aren't doing anything wrong, why would you suspect your partner of doing anything wroing?

  16. I really wonder why no-one, least of all your magazine and article-writer, refuses to respect or acknowledge this lady's right to privacy. She is not the criminal. She did not know what her husband was up to. Can she be allowed to live a semblence of a normal life?

  17. Disgusting tabloid journalism at it's worst. There are no words to express your opportunism and lack of concern – let alone compassion for Ms Harriman;
    Shame on you – count on me never, ever to read or purchase any poroduct by Macleans or it's parent company.

  18. her husband raped and killed two woman and this woman has flooring problems? remember when karla homolka was also concerned with her stuff after the police had been in the house. it takes a special kind of women to love these guys i hope this story never gets old. lawsuits that go on for years and leave this women with nothing.

    • How can you compare Ms. Harriman to Karla Homolka??? Homolka knew what her husband was and what he was doing and participated in his crimes. Ms. Harriman shares no blame with the monster that she married and does not deserve to lose her home and future security.

  19. Anyone can be fooled by a monster. And of course she shouldn't have to take the blame for his actions. But at the same time, it is hard to work up sympathy for a woman with no dependents who earns a 6 figure salary, owns a $700,000 house, and still feels the need to ask taxpayers to replace her floors (and a $1400 lamp, if I am not mistaken). Perhaps these claims were made in the throes of grief. But her attempt to transfer assets between herself and Williams before any of the victims had an opportunity to seek compensation doesn't sit well either. In any case, it is up to the courts now to determine how the assets will be split, and what compensation the victims will receive, if any. (Though I am sure no amount of compensation will bring their loved ones back.)

    • How much is your loved one worth before U start feeling better?

  20. how dare you think that you this maifa wife and turn her in a victim. two of the othe victims are dead. two are going through pain you clearly will never understand and they all have family that are bleeding in the most painful ways. this woman tried to hid assets. money that will be needed inorder to overcome the damage done. but she is also a victim. HOW DARE YOU

  21. just a couple of comments. No one knows someone until you live under the same roof as that person. Neighbours, friends, coworkers may see the facade that "great guy".. you know them, the domestic abusers are an example of that, but she knew him better than anyone, with that said, even if she suspected something even an inkling of something, who would ever want to think their husband could be capable of such horrific crimes. Your mind just wouldn't go down that path.
    I agree with others though that she should not be written about to such a degree but there is a curiousity, a fascination with creatures like Williams where people want to know how they could be that way? How they could hide it? and unfortunately she is the closest thing to getting an understanding of him.
    I think as a society the more important thing to learn from this is how men end up like this and what we can do in society for our young boys so that they grow up to not become every woman's worst nightmare.

  22. Some investigative journalism in a Canadian publication longer than 1/2 page WITHOUT the comments closed!?!?

    Amazing what the threat of being usurped by an American news story can do!!!!!!

  23. This story has haunted me since it first came out. My family member is a retired leftenant colonel, he has lived in New Orleans for many years.He is cold, and always has been as cold as ice to me ( his and our brother's victim when I was a child). This man, who is revered by his collegues and friends, has now legally robbed me of my inheritance now my parents are gone, because I told the story of family abuse which included him( to no avail) when I promised I wouldnt to survive. There are many hidden monsters in the military. When issues arise, like these, they close ranks and blame and silence the victim whenever possible. The MP who drove me home, when he found me trying to escape from Camp Valcartier at age three, cried when I told him why, claiming (likely correctly) that he had no choice but to take me home, even though he had just heard the nightmare that was and would continue to be for me. I still have great affection for men in the armed forces in general. My father and grandfather lived dedicated honourable lives, therein. It is THIS generation, that is recruited based on bloodthirsty, heartless ambition ( and my brother proudly admits this IS the current criteria for military recruitment) that everyone should notice and insist on accountability and CHANGE!

    • Bless you Page T. I am sorry that you were abused. You did not deserve it at all, you were just a wee child.
      I hope you heal and that you continue to share with others the strength that got you to today. Take care.

      • the military does have alot of these types…as Russel….. it is a great place to hide /just like the Churches/ and still have a sheltered good life

  24. I've been reading about the origins of serial killers and rapists since this story started. And it's kind of shocking to me how everyone is fixating on Ms. Harriman when all the literature I can find – including by profiler Roy Hazelwood – asserts that almost all were severely abused – often sexually &/or psychologically terrorized – by female caregivers. Given that, why are we giving Ms. Harriman such a hard time, when no-one is writing about his parents?

    From what I've read, unless we're in a 'Karla' situation, which I doubt, the research implicates mothers FAR more than wives.

    • Not so much mothers as fathers . . . and stepfathers. Doesn't mean women are perfect by any means but the majority of perpetrators in the area of sexual abuse within families are men. Women are equally guilty of emotional abuse which can be every bit as damaging as physical or sexual.

  25. 2007 – All of a sudden – cancer … brain cancer maybe?

  26. ? this is not up to me to judge. Unfortunately she (his wife) will wear these scarlet letters (the MURDERERS wife) for the rest of her life.

  27. She is no less of a monster than her loser husband. Arrogance seems to be the tie that bound these two idiots..one a murder the other one a self centered bit**

  28. "No one can say what they would or would not have done if they were Ms. Harriman." Agreed, however, this entire article is biased toward the angelic Ms. Harriman. How can the author/s possibly know what she knew, or didn't know since she hasn't made any public statements. The only communication that I've seen is her request to close her divorce proceedings and her medical file to the public. Curiously, one has to ask – her medical file? Was she seeing a therapist because of her relationship and her suspicions about her husband's odd behavior?
    I don't know how many of you are married, but would it not strike you as odd when, instead of going to bed with his wife, the male half of this relationship would go jogging? There were, I believe, at least 1000 pieces of clothing – underwear, bathing suits etc. in boxes. During their move, and while their new home was being finished, most wives would ask about them. They weren't in a storage unit, but in their home. Are we expected to believe that Ms. Harriman saw no change in habits, behaviors, or acquisitions?
    The emperor has no clothes!

  29. Seriously, was this article written by a friend/or friends of Ms. Harriman? She hasn't granted any interviews, so how could you know what she knew, how she feels, what she wants, or if she has any empathy for the victims and their families? She has worked very hard to distance herself from the creature Russell Williams, but doesn't mind retaining his money. Actions always speak louder than words.
    I'm not impressed.

    • The author Friscolani has written several articles on her here in MacLeans. I imagine he is working on a book about the whole hideous mess.

      • "The author Friscolani has written several articles on her here in MacLeans. I imagine he is working on a book about the whole hideous mess."
        ——————————————————————————————————-
        Haven't we all had enough? There was an episode of Law and Order, shown this past week, which strongly mimicked this case. There was a commentary last weekend (W-five?). The book has been released. A news item was mentioned in the past day or so regarding keeping the divorce private. Enough!
        It's like reliving the Paul Bernardo/Karla Homolka case – it went on for years.
        The apparent megalomaniac (Williams) doesn't need more publicity, so that he can relish and relive his disgusting past deeds. And we don't need to hear about the innocent bystander Ms. Harriman, who must have been in a catatonic state while this was going on. What's next? An article about the cat?

  30. As usual I'm shocked at the amount of people that:
    a) didn't read the article
    b) didn't understand the article
    c) have jumped to wild conclusions with little or no facts to back their theories
    d) all of the above

    • I read the entire article. I understood what was written. I feel that the article was more theoretic than factual regarding Ms. Harriman. What do you find shocking? What did the rest of us miss?

      • Theoretical sweetie, theoretical. Not theoretic. And what you missed has already been posted but you are in no mood to pay attention. You just want to spew hate. Well, you have to live with yourself.

  31. I have absolutely no sympathy for Williams' wife. How petty can one woman be given the cruelty, horror & sorrow her husband caused. Her vulgar concern was not for the massive human destruction williams caused but for the scratches on her floor. She is nothing but a self-absorbed person who displays zero empathy. She and Williams were a very good match. The Heart & Stroke will never get another cent of my money as this is the kind of person they support.
    She has never publicly expressed any regret to the victims' families her regret. She continues to visit him in jail in Kingston.

    She wants privacy only because she has not separated herself from him…they are still a couple in her eyes. She'll never say a bad word about him…she's no victim!

    • What a bizarre, insensitive post. Can you imagine if YOUR spouse did something horrible. Wouldn't you want to make them pay? If you read you'd learn she's divorcing him. That money is hers. To say SHE should give her money implies she's guilty of something which is just not true. And what does where she works have anything to do with anything? Can you imagine the lawsuits if companies could fire people for what their RELATIVES did? So if your brother was a crook, you should be fired. Try some compassion.

      • "Bizarre and insensitive" describe Mr and Mrs Williams, that's for sure. She can keep "her" money. But his money should pay restitution to the victims of his crimes, don't you think? That includes you and me, if you are an Ontario taxpayer. Because, rather than get her lamp and floors money from her husband, who, at the bottom of it all, is responsible for their damage, she wants you and me to pay for OUR police having damaged them! She's a piece of work, all right. She's last on the list of people I feel sorry for. And yes, I stopped giving the H&SF the $600 a year I'd been donating. And told them why. If they can afford to keep someone like her on, they're getting way too much money.

  32. Bottom line is he killed the young ladies, not his wife. She too is a victim and those trying to make it sound like she somehow approved of his actions are being foolish. She just cannot turn off the emotional taps and connection to him after so many years together. Like anyone of you could.

  33. Until you have lived in her shoes, you have no right to pass judgement on this woman. I do not know anybody who could cope with this situation. Lots of folks with spouses are truly upset when they discover the black side of his or her's personality. Her husband's dark side is very difficult to handle emotionally. Give her some deserved empathy.