In 1987, 17-year-old Karla Homolka met 23-year-old Paul Bernardo and it was love at first sight. The couple got married in 1991 only six months after committing the rape and killing of Karla’s sister, Tammy. Paul took an interest in 15-year-old Tammy and Karla’s solution was a deadly one. She obtained Halothane, which is an anesthetic used in animal surgery, and sedatives from the vet clinic she worked at. On Christmas Eve, Karla held a rag doused in Halothane over Tammy’s mouth and nose. Karla presented her littler sister as a Christmas present for Paul so he could take her virginity. As he raped her, she started to choke on her own vomit and died before paramedics arrived.
Two weeks before getting married, the couple abducted, raped, and killed 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy. She was walking home when Paul blindfolded and forced Leslie into his car. Karla raped and tortured the young girl while videotaping it until Paul strangled Leslie to death. The couple cut her body into pieces and dumped the remains into Lake Gibson.
As a wedding gift, Karla lured one of her female friends, known in court as Jane Doe, to the couple’s home. She called Paul him that she had a wedding gift waiting for him. By now Karla, all on her own, had drugged and anesthetized her friend not only once but twice in exactly the same manner she had done with her sister just six months prior.
The following year in April of 1992, 15-year-old Kristen French was the next young girl unlucky to cross paths with Karla and Paul. The couple ran into a pretty girl and Karla got out of the car with a map in hand to ask for directions. This was when Paul threatened her with a knife and forced her into their car. The couple then tortured, raped, and videotaped her for three long days. During these three days, Kristen was shown a video tape of the rape of Leslie Mahaffy. In the end, Bernardo strangled her to death and used the very same electrical cord that he had killed Leslie with.
Before Paul met Karla, he was already a serial rapist and had raped at least 19 girls, many of which were minors. Since he had carried out these attacks in and around Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, he was named the Scarborough Rapist. Paul admitted that he was responsible for every sexual assault attributed to him but he strongly maintained that Karla had been the killer. Karla, of course, pointed the finger at Paul and it’s unlikely we will ever know the truth of the matter. To this day Paul insists he has never killed anyone.
Paul was never the most stable character and after the death of Kristen French, he began to psychologically unravel. In late December 1992, he had beaten Karla so badly the ER doctor reported that in his fifteen years it was the worst case of domestic abuse he had seen. On February 1st, 1993, the Toronto Metro police received a notification of positive DNA matches connecting Paul to three rapes in Scarborough. Karla was very happy in taking this as an opportunity to lend them her views of her now estranged husband to turn any suspicion away from her. Everything came apart after that and soon both Paul and Karla would find themselves facing the legal consequences of their actions.
Karla claims that she was present when Paul strangled the abducted girls with an electrical cord, however, Paul’s story was that it was always his intention to let the girls go. In both instances, with Leslie and with Kristen, Paul stated that he had left the house to go get take-out food and rent movies. Each time when he returned, the girls were dead. Paul was an ex-accountant and hoarder so he kept almost every receipt ever given to him and there was a record of all that zig-zagging around he did.
There are two things that make this case significant: one is that Paul and Karla videotaped themselves sexually assaulting Tammy, Leslie, Jane-Doe, and Kristen. The second is that those tapes would play and wouldn’t play a role in their prosecution. There was six and a half hours of videotape footage in which Karla was either directing the on-camera activity or actively sexually assaulting Tammy, Leslie, Jane Doe, and Kristen. In spite of this evidence, Karla would not be charged with a single sex crime that made both her present and future circumstances infinitely better than those Paul was facing. In return for a plea bargain, Karla testified against Paul and only received two concurrent 10 year sentences for manslaughter on the Leslie/Kristen murder charges, with obligatory “Two for Tammy” years tacked on. She was released from prison on July 4th, 2005 & currently lives somewhere in Quebec, Canada.
Regardless of the truth, it was an easy assumption to believe that Karla was a woman beaten into complying with the twisted desires of her husband. In a nearly perfect example of just how deceiving someone can look, when the men of the FBI and RCMP made their decision that the compliant of a victim/sexual sadist dynamic best fit this situation, they were looking at a picture of Karla that was taken at the hospital on the night Paul beat her. There was also evidence in her diary where Karla writes, “never let anyone know our relationship is anything but perfect;Don’t talk back to Paul;Be a perfect girlfriend for Paul;If Paul asks for a drink, bring him one quickly and happily;Remember you’re stupid; Remember you’re ugly; Remember you’re fat;I don’t know why I tell you these things because you never change.”
Paul was the real danger in the eyes of the Crown and Karla’s testimony against her now ex-husband was deemed so necessary she got the easy way out with only twelve years. Paul was sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years. He was incarcerated in the Kingston Penitentiary in Kingston, Ont. until 2013, when he was transferred to the Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont.
He has kept himself busy by writing a war-fiction book named The Globe and Mail and published by Paul according to Amazon. The self-published e-book had a whopping 1.1 star rating and talked about Russians attacking the United States. The book was either awful or it looks like people weren’t too happy about the fact Amazon decided to publish it.
For people who are truly fascinated and interested in the Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo case should read the book Karla: A Pact with The Devil by Stephen Williams. Stephen used letters from Karla herself, psychiatric assessments, and police statements. The book has done an excellent job of presenting the portrayal of Karla.
He has recently applied for day parole but many people are so outraged with the thought of Paul ever stepping foot outside again that I’m sure it will be denied.