Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Russell Williams: The Kinky Killer Colonel

The Making of a Killer?

David Russell Williams
David Russell Williams

Nothing in Col. Russell Williams' background marked him as a potential sex offender. He enjoyed a privileged childhood and youth, marred only by his parents' divorce, and he went on to become an extraordinarily successful military man.

He was born in 1963 in Bromsgrove in the English Midlands but the family soon moved to Deep River, Ontario. A small town in the southeastern part of the sprawling province, Deep River is a planned community that the Canadian government founded for workers at the nearby Chalk River Nuclear Research Laboratories, where Williams' father, Cedric David Williams, was a metallurgist.

The town's affluent, educated professionals saw themselves as set apart from the provincial rural residents living beyond the planned community's borders. The residents of Deep River formed a tightly knit group, frequently availing themselves of the town's carefully organized social possibilities. Like most of their neighbors, the Williamses joined the Deep River Yacht and Tennis Club.

David Russell Williams, young
David Russell Williams, young

In 1970, though, Cedric David Williams and Christine "Nonie" Williams divorced. Christine quickly remarried Jerry Sovka. The son of Czech immigrants to Canada, Sovka had originally met Christine Williams in England back when he studied at the University of Birmingham. A nuclear engineer, Sovka got a new job with Ontario Hydro shortly after his wedding to Christine. With his new wife and stepsons Russell and Harvey, Sovka relocated to Toronto, moving the family into a pleasant house that looked down on Lake Ontario from the Scarborough Bluffs.

In Toronto, Russell took piano lessons and trumpet lessons, developing a life-long love of jazz. He worked as a paperboy delivering The Globe and Mail, which would later chronicle his trial. In 1979, Jerry Sovka's career uprooted the family again, this time to South Korea. But Russ Sovka, as he was then calling himself, stayed behind to finish high school.

He transferred from Toronto's Birchmont Collegiate to an elite boarding school, Upper Canada College. He quickly fit in and continued to excel. Fellow students elected him to serve as one of their boarding house's two prefects in his final year, 1982. His peers did once lock him in his room as a prank, but the clever and resourceful young man escaped by tying his bedsheets together and climbing out the window.

He went on to study economics and politics and earned a degree from the University of Toronto Scarborough. During his college years he learned to fly at Toronto's Buttonville Airport. When he and a girlfriend broke up soon after graduation, he didn't date for a while, and he announced he had decided to become a pilot in the armed forces.

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