Dubbed ‘The Ken and Barbie Killers’ for their blonde, tanned and seemingly wholesome image, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka were in fact a husband and wife team of serial killers from Ontario, Canada.
Karla Leanne Homolka was born on May 4, 1970 in Port Credit, Ontario, Canada and is the eldest of three daughters. Her Father, Karel Homolka, a Czechoslovak immigrant, was a travelling salesman and alcoholic. His Ontarian wife, Dorothy Seger, was a geriatric clinic employee. The family lived in St. Catharines, Ontario. Karla was a bright child and good student that was doted on by her father, but he would also insult her and her mother and sisters during his drunk episodes, and took refuge in the basement when he got in arguments with them. When the Homolka’s marriage faltered and he took on a mistress the wife’s response was to propose a threesome and keep on as normal.
From a young age, Karla was described as stubborn and domineering, being unable to compromise with other children and always willing to speak her mind to adults. She had a depressive episode after she began to attend Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, during which she would dress in a nonconforming manner, cut herself and claim false suicide attempts as a way to seek attention. She later developed sadistic and masochistic fantasies. Homolka got a part-time job at a veterinary clinic while she was in high school, and after graduating in 1988, she was hired by Thorold Veterinary Clinic as a full-time veterinary technician.
Paul Kenneth Bernardo (also known as Paul Jason Teale) was born August 27, 1964 in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. He was the youngest of Kenneth and Marilyn Bernardo’s three children. His parents’ marriage was an unhappy one. Kenneth, who would later in life face charges for peeping and paedophilia, was abusive to the other members of the family and molested Paul’s sister. Marilyn was depressive and would leave her family unattended to visit other relatives during the weekend, and eventually retreated into the basement. Young Paul seemed oblivious to his broken home and was described as a happy child, but he also gained a compulsion to make fires during his time in the Boy Scouts, when he was ten years old.
In his book “Lethal Marriage”, Nick Pron describes the young Bernardo: “He was always happy. A young boy who smiled a lot. And he was so cute; with his dimpled good looks and sweet smile, that many of the mothers just wanted to pinch him on the cheek whenever they saw him. He was the perfect child they all wanted; polite, well mannered, doing well in school, so sweet in his Boy Scout uniform.” Beneath the charming facade, however, Bernardo had developed dark sexual fantasies and enjoyed humiliating women in public and beating women he dated.
In 1981, sixteen-year-old Bernardo suffered two major setbacks. First, he was told after an argument between his parents that Kenneth wasn’t his biological father, but that he had been conceived as a result of an extramarital affair. Repulsed, Bernardo began to call his mother “slut” and “whore”, and she reciprocated by calling him “bastard”. Later, Bernardo’s first girlfriend Nadine Brammer abandoned him for one of his friends, having become tired of Bernardo’s controlling behaviour, and Bernardo retaliated by incinerating all things that Brammer had given to him.
After graduating from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute, Bernardo was employed by the American company Amway, whose polemic sales culture deeply influenced him. He bought books and tapes from famous motivational speakers and applied their lessons when he and his friends met young women in bars, seducing many successfully. By the time he began attending the University of Toronto at Scarborough, Bernardo had developed dark sexual fantasies, one of which was building a “virgin farm” where he would breed virgin girls to rape. He also enjoyed forceful anal sex and degrading his dates in public. Over time his relationships became shorter and Bernardo would sometimes date more than one woman at the same time. In all cases, he was abusive and threatened to kill his girlfriends if they spoke to other people about the treatment he subjected them to. In 1986, two women were granted restraining orders against Bernardo for making obscene phone calls to them. In May 1987, Bernardo raped two women and attempted another rape in July.
Karla Homolka met Paul Bernardo at a Scarborough restaurant on October 17, 1987, while they were both attending a convention in Toronto, they were instantly attracted to each other and had sex that same night, with their friends present. She was 17 years old; he was 23. Bernardo proposed to Homolka on 24 December. The age of majority in Ontario is 18, and at the time, the age of consent in Canada was 14. From then on Bernardo would drive to see Homolka twice a week, and slowly came to control her whole life, deciding how she should dress, style, eat and believe. He often called her fat and ugly. Unlike his previous girlfriends, Homolka easily submitted to and encouraged his sexual behaviour, writing his indications on a “self-improvement list”. Though it didn’t end their relationship, the reveal that Homolka wasn’t a virgin when they first met upset Bernardo greatly.
Bernardo resumed the rapes in December. By March 1988, police had set a task force to apprehend the so-called “Scarborough Rapist”, but the investigation went nowhere despite the amount of physical evidence and the existence of a composite sketch that wasn’t shown to the public. Homolka was aware of what Bernardo was doing in this time period and there were allegations from one victim that Homolka was present when she was attacked, recording it on camera, but these allegations were ignored by the police. Finally, on May 1990, the police decided to show the composite sketch to the public, launching a massive number of tips. At the time, Bernardo had quit his job and got his money by smuggling cigarettes across the U.S.-Canadian border. Friends and previous girlfriends of Bernardo saw the released sketch and tried to contact the police, but the officers were overwhelmed by other tips and were unable to follow up on them. In November, two detectives visited Bernardo and took blood, saliva, and hair samples from him, but they wouldn’t be tested for two years.
By 1990, Bernardo became increasingly obsessed with Homolka’s fifteen-year-old sister, Tammy Homolka. He was spending large amounts of time with the Homolka family, who liked him. He would often flirt with Tammy, he also peeped into her window and entered her room to masturbate while she slept. He then hatched a plan to rape her with Homolka’s assistance, who would also make sure that Tammy remained a virgin until that moment. A first attempt during a summer trip, in July 24, involved Homolka lacing her sister’s meal with Valium stolen from her workplace, but Tammy woke up after one minute, before Bernardo could rape her. The second attempt happened on December 23, following a Christmas dinner in the Homolka family home. Homolka described this as gifting her sister’s virginity to Paul for Christmas
While the parents slept upstairs, the couple spiked Tammy’s drink with sleeping pills, and once she was unconscious, they undressed her and Bernardo proceed to rape her while Homolka held a rag soaked with the anesthetic Halothane (stolen from her workplace) over Tammy’s nose and mouth. Tammy began to vomit and stopped breathing after Homolka held her down to clear her throat. After failing to revive Tammy, the couple dressed her, moved her into her room, and cleaned up the evidence before they called 911. Although Tammy had a visible chemical burn on her face, her death was ruled accidental. At the funeral, Bernardo was caught stroking Tammy’s hair as she laid in an open casket, a 1993 exhumation revealed that the couple had also placed a photo of theirs in the casket. Bernardo and Homolka then moved to Port Dalhousie, where they filmed themselves while roleplaying sexual encounters between Bernardo and Tammy. Homolka played the part of her sister and wore her clothes to reinforce the fantasy.
On June 7, 1991, Homolka invited a teenager that she had befriended at work (called “Jane Doe” during the trial) to their new home. After she passed out from having a drink laced with Halcion, Homolka told Bernardo that she had a surprise wedding gift for him and the two filmed themselves as they raped her. The victim woke up the next day with nausea but left without realizing that she had been raped. In August, “Jane” was invited over again. Mirroring what had happened when Tammy died, “Jane” also stopped breathing while she was raped, but she was revived successfully. Homolka, who had called 911, phoned back to say that the crisis had been solved and the ambulance en-route was recalled without further inquiry.
On June 15, Bernardo took a detour to Burlington to steal license plates to use in his smuggling business when he met 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy, who had been locked outside her home in punishment for missing her curfew after attending a friend’s wake. Bernardo left his car and approached Mahaffy, saying that he wanted to break into a neighbour’s house. Unfazed, she asked if he had any cigarettes. When Bernardo led her to his car he blindfolded her, forced her into the car, drove her to Port Dalhousie and informed Homolka that they had “a playmate”. Bernardo and Homolka videotaped themselves torturing and sexually abusing Mahaffy while they listened to Bob Marley and David Bowie. At one point Bernardo said, “You’re doing a good job, Leslie, a damned good job”, adding: “The next two hours are going to determine what I do to you. Right now, you’re scoring perfect.” On another segment of tape played at Bernardo’s trial, the assault escalated. Mahaffy cried out in pain, and begged Bernardo to stop. In the Crown description of the scene, he was sodomizing her while her hands were bound with twine.
Mahaffy later told Bernardo that her blindfold seemed to be slipping, which signalled the possibility that she could identify her attackers if she lived. The following day, Bernardo claimed, Homolka fed her a lethal dose of Halcion; Homolka claimed that Bernardo strangled her. They put Mahaffy’s body in their basement, and the day after that the Homolka family had dinner at the house. After the Homolkas and their remaining daughter Lori left, Bernardo and Homolka decided that the best way to dispose of the evidence would be to dismember Mahaffy and encase each part of her remains in cement. Bernardo bought a dozen bags of cement at a hardware store the following day; he kept the receipts, which were damaging at his trial. Bernardo used his grandfather’s circular saw to dismember Mahaffy. Bernardo and Homolka made a number of trips to dump the cement blocks in Lake Gibson, 11 miles south of Port Dalhousie. At least one of the blocks weighed 90kg (200 pounds) and was beyond their ability to sink. It lay near the shore, where it was found by Michael Doucette and his son Michael Jr while on a fishing expedition on June 29, 1991. Mahaffy’s orthodontic appliance was instrumental in identifying her. This was the same day that Bernardo and Homolka were married.
During the after-school hours of April 16, 1992, Bernardo and Homolka drove through St. Catharines to look for potential victims. Although students were still going home, the streets were generally empty. As they passed Holy Cross Secondary School, a Catholic high school in the city’s north end, they spotted 15-year-old Kristen French walking briskly to her nearby home. They pulled into the parking lot of nearby Grace Lutheran Church and Homolka got out of the car, map in hand, pretending to need assistance. When French looked at the map Bernardo attacked from behind, brandishing a knife and forcing her into the front seat of their car. From the back seat, Homolka subdued French by pulling her hair. French took the same route home every day, taking about 15 minutes to get home and care for her dog. Soon after she should have arrived, her parents became convinced that she met with foul play and notified police. Within 24 hours the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRP) assembled a team, searched French’s route and found several witnesses who had seen the abduction from different locations (giving police a fairly-clear picture). French’s shoe, recovered from the parking lot, underscored the seriousness of the abduction.
Over the Easter weekend Bernardo and Homolka videotaped themselves torturing, raping and sodomizing French, forcing her to drink large amounts of alcohol and submit to Bernardo. At his trial, Crown prosecutor Ray Houlahan said that Bernardo always intended to kill her because she was never blindfolded and could identify her captors. The following day, Bernardo and Homolka murdered French before going to the Homolkas’ for Easter dinner. Homolka testified at her trial that Bernardo strangled French for seven minutes while she watched. Bernardo said that Homolka beat French with a rubber mallet because she tried to escape, and French was strangled with a noose around her neck which was secured to a hope chest; Homolka then went to fix her hair. French’s nude body was found on April 30, 1992, in a ditch in Burlington, about 45 minutes from St. Catharines and a short distance from the cemetery where Mahaffy is buried. She had been washed, and her hair was cut off. Although it was thought that French’s hair was removed as a trophy, Homolka testified that it was cut to impede identification.
Homolka and Bernardo were questioned by police several times in connection with the “Scarborough Rapist” investigation, Tammy Homolka’s death, and Bernardo’s stalking of other women before the death of French. Officers filed a report, and on 12 May 1992 an NRP sergeant and constable briefly interviewed Bernardo. The officers decided that he was an unlikely suspect, although Bernardo admitted that he had been questioned in connection with the Scarborough rapes. Three days later, the Green Ribbon Task Force was created to investigate the murders of Mahaffy and French. Bernardo and Homolka had applied to have their names legally changed to Teale, which Bernardo had taken from the serial killer in the 1988 film “Criminal Law”. At the end of May, John Motile (an acquaintance of Bernardo) reported Bernardo as a possible murder suspect.
In December 1992, the Centre of Forensic Sciences finally began testing DNA samples provided by Bernardo two years earlier. On 27 December, he severely beat Homolka on the limbs, head and face with a flashlight. Claiming that she had been in an automobile accident, the severely-bruised Homolka returned to work on 4 January 1993. Her skeptical co-workers called her parents, and although they rescued her the following day by physically removing her from the house, Homolka went back in, frantically searching for something. Her parents took her to St. Catharines General Hospital, where she gave a statement to the NRP that she was a battered spouse and filed charges against Bernardo. He was arrested, and later released on his own recognizance. A friend who found Bernardo’s suicide note intervened, and Homolka moved in with relatives in Brampton.
Twenty-six months after Bernardo submitted a DNA sample, Toronto police were informed that it matched that of the Scarborough Rapist and immediately placed him under 24-hour surveillance. Metro Toronto Sexual Assault Squad investigators interviewed Homolka on February 9, 1993. Despite hearing their suspicions about Bernardo, Homolka focused on his abuse of her. Later that night she told her aunt and uncle that Bernardo was the Scarborough Rapist, that she and Bernardo were involved in the rape and murder of Mahaffy and French and that the rapes were recorded on videotape. The NRP reopened its investigation of Tammy Homolka’s death. Two days later Homolka met with Niagara Falls lawyer George Walker, who sought legal immunity from Houlahan in exchange for her cooperation. She was also placed under 24-hour surveillance. The couple’s name change was approved on February 13, 1993. The next day, Walker met with Crown Criminal Law Office director Murray Segal. After Walker told Segal about the videotapes of the rapes, Segal advised him that, due to Homolka’s involvement in the crimes, full immunity was not a possibility.
On February 17, Metro Sexual Assault Squad and Green Ribbon Task Force detectives arrested Bernardo on several charges and obtained a search warrant. Because his link to the murders was weak, the warrant was limited; no evidence which was not expected and documented in the warrant could be removed from the premises, and all videotapes found by police had to be viewed in the house. Damage had to be kept to a minimum; police could not tear down walls looking for the videotapes. The search of the house (including updated warrants) lasted 71 days, and the only tape found by police had a brief segment of Homolka performing oral sex on “Jane Doe”. On May 5, Walker was informed that the government was offering Homolka a plea bargain of 12 years which she had one week to accept. If she declined, the government would charge her with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder and other crimes. Walker accepted the offer, and Homolka later agreed to it. On May 14 Homolka’s plea bargain was finalized, and she began giving statements to police investigators. She told police that Bernardo boasted that he had raped as many as 30 women (twice as many as the police suspected), calling him “the happy rapist”.
Citing the need to protect Bernardo’s right to a fair trial, a publication ban was imposed on Homolka’s preliminary inquiry. The Crown had applied for the ban, which was imposed on July 5 by Francis Kovacs of the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division). Homolka, through her lawyers, supported the ban; Bernardo’s lawyers argued that he would be prejudged by the ban, since Homolka had been portrayed as his victim. Four media outlets and one author also opposed the ban. Some lawyers argued that rumours could damage the future trial process more than the publication of evidence.
Public access to the Internet effectively nullified the court’s order, as did proximity to the American border (since the ban was only in effect in Ontario). US journalists, not subject to the publication ban, published details of Homolka’s testimony which were distributed by “electronic ban-breakers”. Newspapers in Buffalo, Detroit, Washington, D.C., New York City and the United Kingdom, as well as radio and television stations along the Canadian-U.S. border, reported details gleaned from Homolka’s trial. The syndicated series “A Current Affair” aired two programs on the crimes. Canadians brought copies of The Buffalo News across the border, prompting orders to the NRP to arrest all those with more than one copy at the border; extra copies were confiscated. Copies of other newspapers, including The New York Times, were turned back at the border or not accepted by distributors in Ontario. Gordon Domm, a retired police officer who defied the publication ban by distributing details from foreign media, was convicted of two counts of contempt of court.
On May 18, 1993, Homolka was arraigned on two counts of manslaughter. Bernardo was charged with two counts each of kidnapping, unlawful confinement, aggravated sexual assault and first-degree murder as well as one of dismemberment. Coincidentally, that day Bernardo’s original lawyer, Ken Murray, first watched the rape videotapes. Murray decided to hold onto the tapes and use them to impeach Homolka on the stand during Bernardo’s trial. Neither Murray nor Carolyn MacDonald, the other lawyer on the defence team, were deeply experienced in criminal law and it was only over time that their ethical dilemma showed itself also to be a potentially criminal matter, for they were withholding evidence. By October 1993, he and his law partners had studied over 4,000 documents from the Crown. Murray has said he was willing to hand over the tapes to the Crown if they had let him cross-examine Homolka in the anticipated preliminary hearing. The hearing was never held. Homolka was tried on June 28, 1993, though the publication ban the court had imposed limited the details released to the public, who were barred from the proceedings.
Murray said the videotapes showed Homolka sexually assaulting four female victims, having sex with a female prostitute in Atlantic City, and at another point, drugging an unconscious victim. In February 1994, Homolka divorced Bernardo. During the summer of 1994, Murray had become concerned about serious ethical problems that had arisen in connection with the tapes and his continued representation of Bernardo. He consulted his own lawyer, Austin Cooper, who asked the Law Society of Upper Canada’s professional-conduct committee for advice. “The law society directed Murray in writing to seal the tapes in a package and turn them over to the judge presiding at Bernardo’s trial. The law society further directed him to remove himself as Bernardo’s counsel and to tell Bernardo what he had been instructed to do,” Murray said in a statement released through Cooper in September 1995.
On September 12, 1994, Cooper attended Bernardo’s trial and advised Justice Patrick LeSage of the Ontario Court’s General Division, lawyer John Rosen, who replaced Murray as Bernardo’s defence counsel, and the prosecutors about what the law society had directed Murray to do. Rosen argued that the tapes should have been turned over to the defence first. Murray handed the tapes, along with a detailed summary, to Rosen, who “kept the tapes for about two weeks and then decided to turn them over to the prosecution.” The revelation that a key piece of evidence had been kept from police for so long created a furor, especially when the public realized that Homolka had been Bernardo’s willing accomplice. The tapes were not allowed to be shown to the spectators; only the audio portion was available to them. Moreover, Bernardo has always claimed that, while he raped and tortured Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, Homolka actually killed them. After the videotapes had been found, rumours spread that Homolka was an active participant of the crimes. The public grew incensed as the full extent of Homolka’s role in the case was finally exposed and the plea agreement now seemed unnecessary. However, as was provided in the plea bargain, Homolka had already disclosed sufficient information to the police and the Crown found no grounds to break the agreement and reopen the case.
On September 1, 1995, Bernardo was convicted of a number of offences, including the two first-degree murders and two aggravated sexual assaults, and sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years. He was designated a dangerous offender, making him unlikely to ever be released. In a plea bargain (a 12-year sentence for manslaughter), Homolka testified against Bernardo in his murder trial. The plea bargain was criticized by many Canadians, prosecutors said that they would never have agreed to the plea bargain if they had seen the tapes. Murray was later acquitted of obstruction of justice and faced a disciplinary hearing by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Although Bernardo was kept in the segregation unit at Kingston Penitentiary for his own safety, he was attacked and harassed; he was punched in the face by another inmate when he returned from a shower in 1996. In June 1999, five convicts tried to storm his segregation range and a riot squad used gas to disperse them. The Toronto Star reported on February 21, 2006, that Bernardo admitted sexually assaulting at least 10 other women in attacks not previously attributed to him. Most were in 1986, a year before what police called the reign of terror by the Scarborough Rapist. Authorities suspected Bernardo in other crimes, including a string of rapes in Amherst, New York, and the drowning of Terri Anderson in St. Catharines, but he has never acknowledged his involvement. Bernardo’s lawyer, Anthony G. Bryant, reportedly forwarded the information to legal authorities in November 2005. In 2006, Bernardo gave a prison interview suggesting that he had reformed and would make a good parole candidate. He became eligible to petition a jury to be allowed to apply for early parole in 2008 under the faint hope clause (since he committed multiple murders before the 1997 criminal-code amendment), but did not do so. In 2015, Bernardo became eligible (and applied) for day parole in Toronto. According to the victims’ lawyer, Tim Danson, it is unlikely that Bernardo will ever be released from prison because of his dangerous offender status. In September 2013, he was moved from Kingston Penitentiary (which was closing) to Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ontario, where he is reportedly segregated from the other inmates.
Bernardo scored 35 out of 40 on the Psychopathy Checklist, a psychological assessment tool used to assess the presence of psychopathy in individuals. This is classified as clinical psychopathy. In November 2015, Bernardo self-published “A MAD World Order”, a violent, fictional, 631-page e-book on Amazon. By November 15, the book was reportedly an Amazon bestseller, but was removed from the website due to a public outcry. In October 2018, Bernardo had been set to go to trial for possession of a shank weapon while incarcerated (a 5 cm long screw attached to a pen). However, the prosecution dropped the charges due to their determination that there was no reasonable probability of conviction. Bernardo became eligible for parole in February 2018. On 17 October 2018, he was denied day and full parole by the Parole Board of Canada. After Bernardo’s 1995 conviction, the Ontario lieutenant governor appointed Archie Campbell to review the roles played by the police services during the investigation. In his 1996 report, Campbell found that lack of coordination, cooperation and communications by police and other elements of the judicial system contributed to a serial predator “falling through the cracks”. One of Campbell’s key recommendations was for an automated case-management system for Ontario’s police services to use in investigations of homicides and sexual assaults. Ontario is the only place in the world with this type of computerized case-management network. Since 2002, all municipal police services and the Ontario Provincial Police have had access to PowerCase.
After her 1995 testimony against Bernardo, when Homolka returned to Kingston’s Prison For Women, her mother, Dorothy Homolka, started to suffer annual breakdowns between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The collapses were severe enough that she was hospitalized, sometimes for months at a time. While at Kingston Homolka began correspondence courses in sociology through nearby Queen’s University which initially caused a media storm. Homolka was required to pay all fees, as well as her personal needs, from her fortnightly income of about $69, although, she told author Stephen Williams in a subsequent letter, “I did get some financial assistance”. Homolka later graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Queen’s. News of Homolka’s educational efforts were greeted in the media with disdain: “Nothing has changed. Concepts of remorse, repentance, shame, responsibility and atonement have no place in the universe of Karla. Perhaps she simply lacks the moral gene,” wrote Globe columnist, Margaret Wente. Homolka was moved from Kingston in the summer of 1997 to Joliette Institution (a medium security prison in Joliette, Quebec), a facility called “Club Fed” by its critics.
In 1999, Toronto Star reporter Michelle Shephard came into possession of copies of her application to transfer to the Maison Thérèse-Casgrain, run by the Elizabeth Fry Society, and published the story noting the halfway house’s proximity to local schools, hours before the Canadian courts issued a publication ban on the information. Homolka sued the government after her transfer to a Montreal halfway house was denied. In Joliette, Homolka had a sexual affair with Lynda Véronneau, a transgender man who was serving time for a series of armed robberies and who reoffended so that he could be sent back to Joliette to be with Homolka, according to the Montreal Gazette. Her letters to Véronneau, wrote Christie Blatchford in her column in The Globe and Mail, were “in French and on the same sort of childish, puppy-dog-decorated paper she once wrote to her former husband… the same kind of girlish love notes she sent to him.” Her language, Blatchford noted, was “equally juvenile”. Homolka gave him the incentive to finish his schooling, Véronneau said. Véronneau, who identified as a man and was scheduled to undergo gender reassignment surgery, said Homolka liked to be tied up, something that disturbed Véronneau, who was serving a sentence for robbery. He said one game seemed to simulate rape, the Post reported. This article, along with numerous others, whipped up public opinion as the date of Homolka’s release neared.
While being evaluated in 2000, Homolka told psychiatrist Robin Menzies that she did not consider the relationship to be homosexual, as Véronneau “saw herself (sic) as a man and planned to undergo a sex operation in due course” the psychiatrist wrote. Psychiatrist Louis Morisette, meanwhile, noted in his report that Homolka was ashamed of the relationship and hid it from her parents and the experts who examined her. The psychiatrist mentions in his report that under the circumstances, the relationship was not abnormal. In 2001, Homolka was transferred to the Ste-Anne-des-Plaines Institution, a maximum security prison in Quebec. The Toronto Sun reported that, while there, Homolka began a sexual relationship with Jean-Paul Gerbet, a convicted murderer being held in the men’s unit of the facility. According to former inmate and Homolka confidante Chantel Meuneer, the Sun reported, Homolka and the inmate stripped at a flimsy fence, touched one another sexually and exchanged underwear. At the same time, Meuneer told the Sun, Homolka was still in a same-sex relationship with Lynda Véronneau, who had spent $3,000 on her at Victoria’s Secret. On December 6, 2001, only seven days before Homolka dumped Véronneau, Meuneer said she asked Homolka why she continued her lesbian relationship while being in love with a man. Meuneer recalls Homolka saying, “I don’t let go right now because I want my clothes and I want my computer.”
In a 2008 letter of apology to her family, she continued to blame Bernardo for her misdeeds: “He wanted me to get sleeping pills from work… threatened me and physically and emotionally abused me when I refused… I tried so hard to save her.” Tim Danson, lawyer for the victims’ families, has said that she has never apologized to them. During Homolka’s release hearing (under section 810.2 of the Criminal Code), Morrisette said the then-35-year-old did not represent a threat to society. Various hearings over the years have left a mixture of opinions. If she posed any kind of danger, said Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem, a forensic psychologist for Correctional Services Canada, it lay in the ominous but not unlikely possibility of her linking up with another sexual sadist like Bernardo. “She is very attracted to this world of sexual psychopaths. It’s not for nothing that she did what she did with Bernardo,” he told the National Post after reviewing her file. A scheduled newspaper interview with Homolka was quashed by her lawyer. It was not just the facts of the case that shredded Homolka’s cloak of victimization. Her demeanour on the witness stand had been at times “indifferent, haughty and irritable”. Where other inmates might apply for parole at the first opportunity, Homolka refrained from doing so. “Because she was deemed a risk to reoffend, she was denied statutory release two-thirds of the way through her sentence,” Maclean’s reported in explaining what had exempted Homolka from the parole restrictions meant to ease an offender’s integration into mainstream society. In 2004, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation noted that “The National Parole Board has ruled that Karla Homolka must stay in prison for her full sentence, warning that she remains a risk to commit another violent crime.” While the NPB noted that she had made some progress toward rehabilitation, it expressed concern regarding her relationship with convicted murderer Jean-Paul Gerbet. The NPB reprimanded Homolka: “you have secretly undertaken an emotional relationship with another inmate, and evidence gathered seems to indicate that this relationship rapidly became sexual,” the panel stated. As a result it decided to keep her in prison.
A rumour that Homolka intended to settle in Alberta caused an uproar in that province. Maclean’s weighed in with a series of possible scenarios: “The most educated speculation has Homolka staying in Quebec, where language and cultural differences supposedly muted the media coverage of her case, and where she’ll be less recognizable. Another rumour suggests she will flee overseas, restarting in a country where her case is unknown. Or sneak into the United States, using an illegal identity to cross the border and living out her life under a pseudonym.” Michael Bryant, Ontario’s Attorney General fought to get Homolka on the agenda at a meeting of Canada’s justice ministers. “He wants the federal government to expand the category of dangerous offenders to catch those slipping between the cracks.” “Bilingual and armed with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Queen’s University, Homolka may choose to try to live a quiet life in Quebec, where her crimes are not as well known as they are in English-speaking Canada,” reported CTV in May 2005. On June 2, 2005, the network said, “the Ontario Crown will ask a Quebec judge to impose conditions under Section 810 of Criminal Code on Homolka’s release”. “The French and Mahaffy families want even tighter restrictions on Homolka, including asking that she submit to electronic monitoring or yearly psychological and psychiatric assessment,” CTV said. These conditions are not allowed under Section 810 because they cross the line between preventive justice versus punitive measures, but “that’s why [Toronto lawyer Tim Danson, acting on their behalf] believes the families want the government to amend the Section.”
A two-day hearing was held before Judge Jean R. Beaulieu in June 2005. He ruled that Homolka, upon her release on July 4, 2005, would still pose a risk to the public-at-large. As a result, using section 810.2 of the Criminal Code, certain restrictions were placed on Homolka as a condition of her release:
- She was to tell police her home address, work address and with whom she lives.
- She was required to notify police as soon as any of the above changed.
- She was likewise required to notify police of any change to her name.
- If she planned to be away from her home for more than 48 hours, she had to give 72 hours’ notice.
- She could not contact Paul Bernardo, the families of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French or that of the woman known as Jane Doe (see above), or any violent criminals.
- She was forbidden to be with people under the age of 16.
- She was forbidden from consuming drugs other than prescription medicine.
- She was required to continue therapy and counselling.
- She was required to provide police with a DNA sample.
There was a penalty of a maximum two-year prison term for violating such an order. While this reassured the public that Homolka would find it difficult to offend again, it was felt by the court that it might be detrimental to her as well, because public hostility and her high profile might endanger her upon release. On June 10, 2005, Senator Michel Biron declared that the conditions placed on Homolka were “totalitarian”, according to an interview with CTV Newsnet. Two weeks later, Biron apologized. Homolka then filed a request in the Quebec Superior Court for a wide-ranging injunction aimed at preventing the press from reporting about her following her release. While at Joliette Institution, Homolka received death threats and was transferred to Ste-Anne-des-Plaines prison north of Montreal. On July 4, 2005, Homolka was released from Ste-Anne-des-Plaines prison. She granted her first interview to Radio-Canada television, speaking entirely in French. Homolka told interviewer Joyce Napier that she chose Radio Canada because she had found it to be less sensationalist than the English-language media. She said that she had likewise found Quebec to be more accepting of her than Ontario. She affirmed that she would be living within the province but refused to say where. She said she had paid her debt to society legally, but not emotionally or socially. She refused to speak about her alleged relationship with Jean-Paul Gerbet, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence at Ste-Anne-des-Plaines. During the interview, her solicitor, Sylvie Bordelais, sat beside Homolka; however, she did not speak. Homolka’s mother was also present but off-screen, and was acknowledged by Homolka.
Before her imprisonment, Homolka had been evaluated by numerous psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health and court officials. Homolka, reported one, “remains something of a diagnostic mystery. Despite her ability to present herself very well, there is a moral vacuity in her which is difficult, if not impossible, to explain.” Her former veterinary clinic co-worker and friend, Wendy Lutczyn, the Toronto Sun declared, “now believes Homolka’s actions were those of a psychopath, not of an abused, controlled woman”. Lutczyn said that Homolka had promised “she would explain herself”, yet when the women exchanged “a series of letters while Homolka was… waiting to testify at Bernardo’s trial” and after she had completed her testimony, Homolka never did try to explain to Lutczyn “why she did what she did”. On January 11, 2008, the Canadian Press reported that letters written by Homolka to Lutczyn had been pulled from eBay, where they had reached $1,600 with a week to go. Lutczyn said she did not want them any more. The complexities and challenges of completing behavioural studies of women who are suspected of having psychopathic traits have been noted in the forensic literature. The various different masks that the female psychopathic killer displays at different times often have more to do with the audience and the manipulation at that moment that will benefit the individual wearing the mask than the true nature of the individual wearing the mask. Dr. Graham Glancy, a forensic psychiatrist hired by Bernardo’s chief defence lawyer, John Rosen, had offered an alternative theory to explain Homolka’s behaviour, noted Williams in “Invisible Darkness”, his first book on the case. “She appears to be a classic example of hybristophilia, an individual who is sexually aroused by a partner’s violent sexual behaviour, Dr. Glancy suggested.” Williams later reversed his opinion about her and began corresponding with her. This formed the basis for his second book, “Karla – a Pact with the Devil”. In her letters Homolka also disparaged a number of the professionals who had examined her and said she did not care “what conditions I would receive upon release. I would spend three hours a day standing on my head should that be required.”
The national media reported in July 2005 that Homolka had relocated to the Island of Montreal. On August 21, 2005, Le Courrier du Sud reported that she had been sighted in the South Shore community of Longueuil, across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal. On November 30, 2005, Quebec Superior Court Judge James Brunton lifted all restrictions imposed on Homolka, saying there was not enough evidence to justify them. On December 6, 2005, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld Brunton’s decision. The Quebec Justice Department decided not to take the case to the Supreme Court, despite Ontario’s urging. TVA reported on June 8, 2006 that Homolka’s request to have her name changed was rejected. She had attempted to change her name legally to Emily Chiara Tremblay (Tremblay being one of the most common surnames in Quebec). Sun Media reported in 2007 that Homolka had given birth to a baby boy. Quebec Children’s Aid said that despite Homolka’s past, the new mother would not automatically be scrutinized. Several nurses had refused to care for Homolka before she gave birth. On December 14, 2007, CityNews reported that Homolka had left Canada for the Antilles so that her then one-year-old could lead a “more normal life”. She later had 2 more children.
On April 19, 2010, The Vancouver Sun reported that Homolka would be eligible to seek pardon for her crimes in the summer of 2010. Offenders convicted of first- or second-degree murder or with indeterminate sentences cannot apply for a pardon due to the fact that their sentences are for life, but Homolka was convicted of manslaughter, and received less than the maximum life sentence, making her eligible. If she had been successful her criminal record would not have been erased but would have been covered up in background checks, except those required for working with children or other vulnerable people. On June 16, 2010, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said an agreement had been reached between all federal parties to pass a bill that would prevent notorious offenders like Karla Homolka from obtaining a pardon. On Friday October 17, 2014, the jury in the first degree murder trial of Luka Magnotta heard that Homolka was living in Quebec. A poll of 9,521 voters concluded that 63.27% believed that the public had the right to know Homolka’s location, 18.57% of voters believed that she deserved anonymity, and 18.16% believed that Homolka should be permitted to receive anonymity in about 50 years. News reports as of April 20, 2016, placed Homolka as living with her children in Châteauguay, Quebec. Homolka was reportedly angry with reporters’ attempts to speak with her. Parents of children attending the same school as Homolka’s children expressed great concern, despite reassurances from the school and the school board. As of January 2020, she lives in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield without her husband Thierry Bordelais or her children.
“Was Karla herself caught in Paul’s web, a victim? Or did the fact that she joined him in his crimes in spite of having an apparent conscience make her evil even deeper than his?”
If you want to watch a documentary on “The Ken & Barbie Killers” then just check out the video below: