Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mary Elizabeth Harriman - officer and a gentleman - 'the perfect power couple' - an officer and a charity executive - long evening walks

Mary Elizabeth Harriman; wife of Colonel Russell Williams

Source: Ottawa Citizen

The Great Betrayal: When ‘perfectly normal’ isn’t

By Andrew Duffy, The Ottawa Citizen
October 24, 2010

For almost two decades, Mary Elizabeth Harriman believed that her husband, Russell Williams, was an officer and a gentleman.

The couple would sometimes be seen walking hand-in-hand in their Ottawa neighbourhood. He would carry her luggage into their Wilkie Drive home when she returned from the airport on one of the many trips she made as associate executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Former neighbours in Orléans, where the couple lived for 13 years, said Harriman and Williams shared many interests: golf, boating, fitness and their beloved cats, Curio and Rosebud.

Mary-Elizabeth Harriman, seen here in February 2010, was not in Belleville, Ont., this past week to watch as Williams was presented with the lurid evidence against him. Photograph by: Chris Mikula/Postmedia News, National Post

To their neighbors, they seemed the perfect power couple: she was the well-mannered charity executive; he was the spit-and-polish — if often silent — air force colonel. There was never a flicker of public discord between them.

“They couldn’t have been better neighbours. We couldn’t fault them for anything: they were great people,” remembers Shirley Fraser, who held the keys to their house and fed their cat when they were out of town.

“You couldn’t ask for better people. They were the perfectly normal family.”

For Harriman, that perfectly normal world was obliterated earlier this year when she discovered that her husband had been arrested for the sex slayings of two women.

Her officer and gentleman is a convicted rapist and murderer.

Williams admitted as much in a Belleville courtroom this week. He also admitted to a string of carefully catalogued break-ins, in Orléans and Tweed, to rob women of bras, panties and lingerie as part of a twisted fantasy life.

Court heard Harriman believed her husband was someone who liked to go for a long walk before retiring to bed.

The 52-year-old Harriman was not in Belleville this week to watch as Williams was presented with the lurid evidence against him. She did not return phone messages left by the Citizen.

Indeed, ever since her husband’s arrest, she has assiduously tried to evade the public spotlight that has accompanied the case.

Yet she remains the focus of intense interest: Did she have any hint of Williams’ sexual deviance? How does she manage the memories of their two decades together? Can she rebuild a normal life?


  1. legendary mass-murdering couples:

    the Moors Murders - Myra Hindley & Ian Brady.
    the Gloucester Murders - Fred & Rosemary West.

    I'm sure there are more...


  2. As someone writing a comment on pointed out last week, Mrs. Harriman seemed ignorant about the presence in her house of many boxes of ladies' intimate apparel, procured by Col. Williams on his nighttime excursions.

    Perhaps her husband's living area was 'off limits'. Or perhaps she never did any housecleaning, and they had a maid. A cleaning service? What?

    Or perhaps, and this is my personal opinion, Mrs. Harriman, of the renowned and completely ersatz Heart-and-Stroke-Foundation (take your deadly pills for lowering cholesterol; accept the new parameters for high blood pressure readings, etc., etc.) -- she has her own scenario.

    Yes, her own scenario....

    She is being well-protected, isn't she?

  3. Harriman claimed ignoranct about the multitude of boxes of ladies' new and soiled intimate apparel, stolen by Col. Williams on his excursions. It turns out williams wore ladies panties under his clothing on a regular basis. Did she not think this peculiar? Did she wonder where he kept his stash or did she know?

    She is known as being meticulous about her home and very, very clean in her housekeeping habits. Yet, it seems she never did any housecleaning...very odd, very strange.

    Harriman, of the Heart-and-Stroke-Foundation is a career woman and has spent years building her income for retirement. Sometimes it's easier not to ask questions if you don't want answers.

    Harriman is being very well protected. Word has it that she continues her relationship with williams by visiting the sex killer in jail. Yet, she declares she's a victim...I say BS

  4. Such insensitivity !
    Where is the compassion and understanding for Ms. Harriman ?

    1. Compassion and sensitivity are reserved for the "real" victims.

      Not the people that supported the perpetrator for decades. Even if she was ignorant (witch is doubtful) that does not guarantee sympathy.

      Understanding or empathy may be given but only in a frustrated way, ie. he had boxes of evidence in her own house.

      So when people try to understand her, they see a person in denial. Or they see person so concerned with her own "fantasy world" she ignores any possible deflation of that world subconsciously, so willful denial.

    2. Another good question is why is a 2 year old article here? Seems like its being re posted a lot. looking at the comment dates.

  5. I think Mrs Williams should come clean and make a statement on camera for the world to see. If she is sincere in what she says she should then be considered uninvolved and allowed to retain her privacy and her attained work status thereafter.
    There are too many unanswered questions for her not to owe the Canadian public, Canadian Forces personnel and those who donate to the Heart and Stroke Foundation some kind of true statement to help in the understanding of this unresolved complexity.
    Sometimes remaining quiet is the last thing a person in her position should do as providing such a failure to society may end up haunting her for the rest of her life.
    Canadian Society needs some kind of explanation from her and she should provide it.

  6. Even if Ms. Harriman knew her husband word panties under his clothing, it does not mean she knew he was a burglar and criminal.

    We do not know where he hid these many boxes of ladies' lingerie. So the question of how she did not see the many boxes of lingerie is unknown.

    I have boxes in my home whose contents are unknown to me.

    All in all, maintaining her privacy is best. This is a horrific situation. Putting her on the defensive is unecessary. She did not burglarize any home, nor oppress or kill anybody. She is not on trial. She is suffering enough.

    1. "...........Even if Ms. Harriman knew her husband word panties under his clothing, it does not mean she knew he was a burglar and criminal........."

      I concur. Many, many serial killers' wives had no idea their husbands were serial killers until they were caught.

      Someone else wrote that serial killers have "compartmentalized" personality. And experts agree: the successful serial killer is the one that neighbors would leave their children with without hesitation.

    2. she is no angel,i dont care what anyone says i will never donate to heart and stroke ,she knew something, u have intuition,gut feelings ,shes a fucking nut tooo.

    3. I do not think she was without any suspicion or doubt of his abnormal doings. I'm quite sure she did what some power couples will do...keep quiet and hope it goes unnoticed.

  7. How on earth did she not notice her husband leaving the house in the early hours of New Years Day???!! Did she think he was just going out for a walk? Who leaves the house in the middle of the night on New Years? I would sure have been asking some questions of my husband if he did that.

    She should definitely make a statement of some sort, out of respect to thevictims.

    1. Yes, it is mysterious. But perhaps she had an "open" relationship with her husband? Many couples do and for those couples, it is "don't ask, don't tell; you have your mistress(es) out there; that's OK as long as you respect ME at home".
      I am not judging. I am not saying it is right or wrong.
      I am just saying that such relationships exists.
      Many serial killers' wives never knew that they were serial killers, and yet lived with them for decades.

      Remember the BTK killer? Pillar of the community. Eagle Scout Leader. Great family man...........Yes.

  8. Harriman conspired with Williams to get the lion's share of their joint assets. He gets the now-worthless "vacation home/murder site" - emptied by HER of its belongings! - and she gets to keep the half-million dollar Ottawa home. Niiiice. As some lawyers commented on another site, a very bad idea on her part.

    She should fairly split their assets and let his half be exposed to the victims in civil court.

    Obviously Mrs Williams isn't as blind about the assets as she was about her husband's trophies and activities.

    It should all be made public. No one would have cared if it had been fairly split. But it wasn't. And SHE is responsible for conspiring with him on that one.

  9. When a family member commits a horrible crime, the entire family is considered as 'potntial' criminal or accomplice. why in the case of Russell William his wife is being treated as a sacred cow as if her creer with Heart and Stroke Foundation is a proof and gaurantee that she is innocent? Wasn't her husband a decorated high-ranking officer of the most respected institution of this country? He committed those henious crimes despite being a member of the armed force. There is too much sympathy going around for Mrs. Russell which I think she does not deserve at all. Why she should not be considered an accomplice in the sordid RUSSELL saga?

    1. I soooooooooo agree with this point shamaq2000. I too don't understand why, when people are shocked and alarmed that a man of Russ williams stature in the community has confessed to/is responsible for these crimes, that the same people then use that very defunct theory to once again say Mary Elizabeth can't have done it..she's an exemplary citizen!!! Well, wasn't Russ?? Isn't that what we're saying is no longer a barometer to predict the presence of psychopaths?? One other thing bothers me about Mary cold must you be to be able to go back to work a few weeks after finding out your husband is a sexual predator, murderer and one sick bastard. It's not like finding out he had an affair. Seriously, going back to work when your world had been rocked with heinous happenings carried out by hubby?? COLD. I'd be a blubbering mess in a heavily armed bed for months.

    2. Exactly what bothers me. Okay she didn't know. But really how cold do you have to be to just go back to work and keep busy. I would be out of mind for considerably longer than 3 weeks. And I'm as stoic as the next person but this is not what is required here.

    3. I agree as well. I was fully prepared to feel sympathetic towards Mary Liz, especially given how Russ's concern was her, nothing or nobody else. But asking for her floors to be replaced, then going back to work so soon after this devastating event, then colluding with her husband and getting down to the business of protecting her assets right away ~ all this began to change my mind. It is also my understanding that now four years on she is still married to him and still visits him in prison. She has been well protected from the public and the police...was she even questioned??? Who the heck took all those pics of him? I think something stinks here and now feel that things just don't make sense. Evidence was immediately destroyed. There's more to this story.

  10. She saw what she wanted to see and money made her eyes open wide. Has she no compassion for his victims? Has she no responsibility towards the last 20 years of knowing her husband> I think it is all very convenient. For pete's sake. The man wore women's underwaer on a regular day. Does it take a brick to get that message?

  11. I hope her floors are ok...that is all she seemed to care about after the search was done at her house. Hard to feel sorry for the likes of her....not a bit of compassion for the's all about her......there is a special place in hell for her.

    1. are you kidding me? do you know what is going on in her head? do you know anything about mary elizabeth harriman? have you met and talked to her EVER? who are you to say that she has not a bit of compassion for the victims? people like you make me sick. so many assumptions going on, that comments like there are just so absurd. it makes me feel shame for the people in this world to judge so fast. i am honestly disgusted.

  12. A place in Hell indeed. I am glad there are people that can see that she is as evil as her monstrous husband. She likely feels his victims deserved what they got. That is why she offers no sympathy. She is no victim. Her freedom and new floors is the result of her husband's plea bargain with the police.

  13. She probably knew he wore women's underwear under his clothes.

    But I have seen stranger behaviors in otherwise perfectly normal, church-going suburban couples.

  14. number one if anyone thinks a man,their husband wearing panties is ok,u r mistaken,that fucking nut u r married too ,the panties are nothing copared to the mind and soul that lurks there,thw wife is as sick.

  15. he was always after pretty woman, his wife
    doesn't look like his type.

  16. wow Since this vile man did this while they where married even if the spouse knew nothing she becomes responsible for any and all debts or court actions. Just like any man is responsible for his spouses debts. 100 percent.
    However I do think we are all wondering just what the f--k is in her mind to take any assets period .If she knew nothing I would of thought she would run and leave any and all things tainted with his name .
    There is something we are all missing , and I am not sure what it is .
    If in fact she had no knowledge It was like Clifford Olsens wife in bc
    He sold the locations of the children he killed for 100000 paid to her and she took the money and kept it.. again something missing She damn well knew something.

  17. Cat people are weird. DRW cried for an old, awful cat yet his victims - nada. She looks sexless and was raised an ego-centric spoiled brat. I have absolutely no doubt she wore the pants in the relationship. He married mommy or the one he never had really. Also find it strange that she wasn't shocked/\dismayed enough to refrain from a bitch session regarding her scratched floors - 3,000. Self-centered people see nothing wrong with their behavior. Who would care about some stinking floors after the horrific details of 2 murders, 2 sex assaults, 88 break ins, kiddie porn. Never mind the victims. Why didn't miss perfect screw her husband once in a while. Even DRW said his main concern was that the police would be ripping apart the princess' new play house. I prefer to look at a photo of him than of her. Honestly, you dumb broad, who allows their husband to take off at 2AM with a camera and tripod....


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