I don't want to see a movie about Russell Williams yet. In fact, I don't ever want to watch a cinematic version of the horror I heard retold in that Belleville, Ont., courthouse in October 2010.
There were moments in that crowded courtroom when I was certain that I was going to be physically ill and it took all my willpower to remain in my seat and continue to do my job. I wept as I wrote my story that evening, reliving what I had heard. Those images of rape and torture are forever seared in my memory and almost two years later, they still hide, only to reappear unbidden in all their graphic monstrosity: Images of that sadistic monster who bound and blindfolded two strong, beautiful women, made them do his perverse bidding as he captured them on camera, and then, even as they begged for their lives, executed them when his cruel pleasure was done.
That should not be the stuff of a made-for-TV movie, no matter how sanitized it may be.
But the Lifetime Network has just cheerily announced that their film about the disgraced former Canadian Forces colonel, An Officer and a Murderer, will air in the U.S. on July 21.
"Brilliant at being stealth and obsessive in covering all traces, Col. Williams deceives his wife, friends, neighbours and even his military comrades. But his lewd behaviour catches the eye of a small-town police detective who is determined to stop the colonel dead in his tracks," reads the description on the Lifetime website.
The brutal sex slayings of Jessica Lloyd, 27, and Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 37, have been transformed into entertainment for the American masses, a juicy, titillating drama of a serial killer who is a respected air force commander by day and at night, a fetishist peeping Tom who graduates to rape and then murder.
There's no arguing that it would be a compelling, cautionary tale if it weren't so close to home, so close in time. The victims' families have barely begun to heal, if they ever will at all. Exploiting their tragedy to thrill an American cable TV audience is so wrong.
At least with the movie Karla, which depicted the crimes of Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, the Hollywood treatment came more than a decade after the sex slayings of the two schoolgirls. And still it elicited outrage and even a call to boycott it by Ontario's premier.
The only saving grace is that the Williams movie won't be seen in Canada.
It's not to difficult to understand the cinematic allure of the enigmatic former commander of CFB Trenton. At 47, the well-educated, long-married military man was a rising star with his chiselled chin and reserved, arrogant manner. What is so mystifying to this day is how he so masterfully hid his alter ego. He appeared so normal and yet for two years, he was breaking into the bedrooms of young girls in Ottawa and Tweed, Ont., to dress and photograph himself in their panties. By September 2009, his underwear fetish took a sudden, violent turn and he snuck into the homes of two women who lived alone, blindfolded and bound them, sexually assaulted them and forced them to pose naked.
But at least they were allowed to live.
Comeau, a military flight attendant he'd met on the job, and Lloyd, a complete stranger he'd spotted working out on her home treadmill, would not be as lucky. And there is little doubt that there would have been more victims if the cocky killer hadn't been caught by his own hubris - even showing up to his police interview wearing the same boots he wore the night he abducted Lloyd from her home.
The irony is that there is now a movie about his evil deeds, when Williams himself was so keen on making one himself.
He orchestrated every part of his victims' harrowing last hours, capturing every degradation, every painful assault, from all possible video angles, snapping his commands as he directed the snuff films he thought he could later watch and savour.
Those poor women were mere fodder for his sick entertainment. How is an exploitative TV movie that much different?