Due to this post from Roni Loren (thank you for the warning, Roni) I’ve decided to remove most photos from Thriller Thursday. I hope you’re still able to enjoy them!
A Canadian woman only served twelve years for participating in countless rapes and three murders–including that of her own sister. This is the story of Karla Homolka and Paul Bernado, known as the Ken and Barbie Killers.
Born on May 4, 1970 in Port Credit, Ontario, Karla Homolka was the oldest of three children. Pretty, smart, and popular, she worked as an assistant at a veterinary clinic. Not a single thing about Karla seemed sinister.
She met 23-year-old Paul Bernardo in 1987, and their sado-masochistic sexual relationship developed quickly. Karla was happy to be a slave to Bernardo’s demands and even encouraged his sadistic needs, including rape. Paul started raping women and soon became known as the Scarborough Rapist. Karla knew about and encouraged Paul’s activities.
As time went on, Paul focused on the fact that Karla wasn’t a virgin when they met. He told Karla it was her responsibility to assist Paul in taking the virginity of her younger sister Tammy–without the girl’s consent. Through skilled manipulation, he convinced Karla to accept his logic and to videotape the rape.
In his book, INVISIBLE DARKNESS, Stephen Williams says Karla thought the rape of her sister Tammy through. “She just wanted to knock her out and give her to Paul for Christmas. They sedated animals before they put them to sleep for surgery, so it should be all right to do it to her sister. There was some risk without the proper equipment — she would have to put the halothane on a cloth and hold it over Tammy’s face — but she would make sure Tammy had plenty of air and check her breathing regularly.”
On December 23, 1990, after the rest of the family went to bed, Karla and Paul put their plan into action. He gave young Tammy drinks laced with alcohol, and a powerful animal sedative she’d acquired from work. The teenager quickly succumbed to the cocktail’s effects. Paul held the camera while he raped Tammy. Karla kept the sedative-soaked rag over her sister’s face.
That’s when everything went horribly wrong. Tammy threw up, so Karla held her sister upside down to clear her airways. The effort was futile. Tammy choked to death. The couple quickly hid the evidence and called an ambulance. Although the couple was questioned, her parents believed Tammy simply choked to death on her own vomit.
Now Paul needed a virginal replacement. He played into Karla’s obsession with him, knowing she feared he would grow bored with her sexual attributes. She took it upon herself to find Tammy’s replacement. She chose a young teenager who resembled her dead sister and gave her as a wedding gift to Paul. This girl has only been referred to as Jane Doe.
Meanwhile, the Scarborough Rapist continued to terrorize the city. A composite sketch was finally released and several of Paul’s acquaintances contacted police. Detective Steve Irwin, the officer in charge of the rape cases, had gathered enough forensic evidence from victims to narrow the suspect to a small percentage of the population. He interviewed Paul and took blood, saliva, and hair samples. Bernado’s samples, along with 230 others, were given to forensics. Only 5 of those samples fit the blood factors of the rapist, and Paul Bernardo was one of them. However, the rapes had mysteriously ended by the time the results came back, and the Scarborough Rapist was backlogged.
Now engaged, Paul and Karla upped the ante. In June, 1991, Paul met Leslie Mehaffy while stealing license plates in the dark of night. He convinced her to go to his car for a cigarette, forced her inside, and drove her to the home he shared with Karla. The two of them held Leslie hostage for twenty-four hours, recording their sexual assaults. Karla would later say Paul strangled the drugged girl with an electrical cord, while he insisted Leslie died at Karla’s hands. They cut up the girl’s body and disposed of it in cement blocks. It was found two weeks later, during Karla and Paul’s lavish wedding ceremony.
Paul and Karla went through more than one young girl to satisfy his needs. Always ready to please her husband, Karla went along with his demands. On April 16, 1992, they abducted Kristen French from a church parking lot.
Paul and Karla spent three days sexually assaulting, abusing, and torturing Kristen in Port Dalhousie. Paul said Karla beat Kristen with a mallet, and she was strangled on a noose secured to a hope chest. He claimed Karla left right after the murder to blow dry her hair.
After being questioning the couple several times in connection with the Scarborough Rapist investigation, Tammy Homolka’s death, and various incidents of stalking by Paul, police focused on Paul and Karla. In 1992, DNA samples given by Bernardo three years earlier were tested.
When the samples finally came back, the results were conclusive: Paul was the Scarborough Rapist. He was immediately placed under twenty-four hour surveillance.
By now, Paul had been accused of beating Karla and charges were pending. She finally confessed to her family that Paul was not only the rapist, but that they were involved in the rape and murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. Because of her cooperation, Karla was granted partial immunity.
Search warrants were executed. Police had to keep damage to the house to a minimum, and in 71 days, they only found one tape–a short reel of footage of Karla performing oral sex on “Jane Doe,” the first girl she’d replaced her dead sister with.
In exchange for her testimony, Karla Homolka received a 12-year-sentence. Paul Bernardo was convicted of two first degree murders along with two aggravated assaults. He was sentenced to life without parole.
Homolka thrived in prison and several psychiatrists said she showed symptoms of spousal abuse. Others claimed she was merely acting. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Graham Glancy said Karla was a classic example of hybristophilia, a person who is sexually aroused by a partner’s sexual behavior.
After Karla’s plea bargain was sealed, more videotapes surfaced showing her involvement in the rape and torture, including a particularly shocking video of Karla performing oral sex on her own sister before the young girl choked and died. Despite public outrage, the plea bargain had to be honored. Karla was released in July 2005 with restrictions. In November, after a series of appeals, the restrictions were lifted. She left Canada, changed her name to Leann Teale, and had a son.
I’ve only barely touched the surface of this case, and this post has ran way long. For more information on both Paul and Karla, including the controversy surrounding the search warrants and video tapes, and Karla’s time in prison, click here and here.
What do you think? Did Karla get off too lightly with 12 years? Or was she a victim herself?
*Sources to this post linked above.