Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Homolka's family moved to St. Catharines, Ontario when she was only a few years old. After high school there she took a job in a veterinary clinic and in October of 1987, she met Paul Bernardo while at a Toronto pet industry convention.
On October 17 1987 Homolka, then 17 met Bernardo who was 23, at a hotel restaurant. Their relationship quickly became sexual in nature. They would maintain a relationship until 1994 when Homolka divorced Bernardo and began testifying against him. At the time of their meeting, Bernardo had already raped several girls in Scarborough, a Toronto suburb, but he had not been found out. On December 23 1990, Homolka stole the animal anesthetic, Halothane, from the veterinary clinic where she worked. Together she and Bernardo administered it to her fifteen-year-old sister Tammy Lyn Homolka along with a mixture of alcohol and halcion. They raped Tammy in the basement of the Homolka family's home while she was unconcious. The official cause of death was attributed to the girl having choked to death on her own vomit. Tammy's death was, at the time, ruled an accident.
After getting engaged to Bernardo, Karla Homolka and her fiancé rented a bungalow in the quiet suburb of Port Dalhousie . On June 15, 1991 Paul Bernardo, while stealing license plates to aid in his Cigarette Smuggling scheme ran into Leslie Erin Mahaffy who had been locked out of her home. The two spoke for some time and went back to Paul's car for a cigarette. At that point 14-year old Leslie Mahaffy was abducted. Paul Bernardo brought her to their home where they held the girl hostage for several days, sexually assaulting her repeatedly. This, they recorded on video tape including one scene where Homolka pretties herself for the camera before raping the girl. Eventually, they killed Mahaffy, and Paul Bernardo cut up her body with a circular saw. On June 29, a couple canoeing on a lake at the edge of the city of St. Catharines found parts of Mahaffy's body in shallow water, encased in cement. On the same day that the girl's body was found, Karla Homolka was married in a lavish ceremony, resplendent in an all-white wedding dress and riding with her husband in a horse-drawn carriage at Niagara-on-the-Lake.
On April 16, 1992, Paul and Karla drove into a church parking lot. Karla stepped out of the car with a map pretending to be lost and asking for help from 15-year-old Kristen Dawn French. Paul approached from behind and used a knife to force Kristen Dawn French into the car. A piece of the map, one of Kristen's shoes and some of Kristen'ss hair were all later found at the crime scene. Paul Bernardo forced the girl into the backseat floor of the car at knifepoint. They brought French to their home where for several days they sexually assaulted, abused, tortured and degraded her. They killed her just before going to Easter Sunday dinner at Homolka’s parents' home. On April 30, the body of Kristen French was found in a ditch in the city of Burlington, Ontario.
Homolka herself was subjected to the violence of her husband and in 1993 decided to leave him after an incident which left her hospitalized. The Attending ER Physician called her injuries, "the worst case of wife assault I have seen." Karla had been left with two black eyes and a hemorrhage in the left eye from strikes to the back of her head which drove the brain forward into her skull. She suffered a contusion to the forehead, bruises down the side of her neck and along her arms, bruises and swelling to 75% of her legs from the mid-thigh down and a puncture wound from a screwdriver on her right thigh above the knee.
Eventually, Karla and Paul were arrested. Karla presented herself as the abused victim, and a plea-bargain was reached in exchange for her testimony against her husband that gave her a twelve-year prison sentence for two counts of manslaughter. After the plea-bargain had been confirmed, and Karla had begun her sentence, the videotapes were discovered, and the full extent of her involvement and participation was revealed; however, the plea-bargain protected Homolka from further prosecution. A court order exhumed her sister Tammy's body and Paul Bernardo was tried and convicted in the girl's murder.
The extent of Homolka's involvement in the murders has been controversial. Some believe that she was simply a victim of Bernardo, while others have noted that Bernardo -- who has also been subsequently convicted in a number of rape cases -- never killed his known victims when Homolka was not directly involved in the abduction. Recent evidence has indicated that perhaps Paul Bernardo had killed at least one victim previous to Homolka's involvement. This remains to be completely determined, but it appears that Robert Baltovich may have been wrongly convicted of the murder of of Elizabeth Bain -- a victim that some feel was Paul Bernardo's first.
One particularly controversial aspect of Karla's plea deal was the Crown's belief that Karla was a "compliant victim," the justification of which came largely from an FBI document titled Compliant Victims of the Sexual Sadist .
It is almost absolutely certain that Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka had other victims -- more likely rape victims and not murder victims. During the initial search of the Bernardo home a Hawaiian newspaper article was found which outlined the rape of a local that occurred when Paul and Karla were honeymooning in Hawaii. The fact that they had cut out this article, that the rape itself followed Paul's Modus Operandi and that it occured when the Bernardo's were vacationing in Hawaii have all lead people to speculate that it may be related. It is, however, somewhat pointless for the United States to attempt to extradite Paul Bernardo at this point, since he is likely never to be released from prison in Canada.
Some people, including the defense attorneys for Robert Baltovich, think that Elizabeth Bain , a 22 year old female in the Scarborough area of Toronto was abducted and murdered by Paul Bernardo in 1990. Witnesses testified about seeing Bain with a blond man in the days before she vanished. There are numerous other links between Bernardo and Bain, but a Canadian publication ban stands in the way of much of the information getting into the public domain. Regardless, on December 2nd, 2004 the Ontario Court of Appeals set aside Baltovich's conviction and ordered a new trial given some of this evidence. In 1998, author Derek Finkle published the book No Claim to Mercy where details tying Bain to Bernardo were presented.
One of the more controversial aspects of the Homolka/Bernardo saga was the media publication ban. Although it was originally said that the ban on publication of details of the case was to protect Paul Bernardo's right to a fair trial, after Paul Bernardo's attorneys came out in opposition to the ban, the Crown would later come out and say, in a memo from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General , that it was really to protect the families. This was an utter failure if it is to be believed. Many of the myths floating about the internet were far more sickening than the actual details of the case (which were, indeed, very upsetting in their own right). Unfortunately, due to the very nature of the internet, many of these tall tales are still to be found, while the factual details -- protected by the publication ban -- are much more difficult to find.
At the time, many so-called "Electronic ban breakers"  would publish much which was forbidden, and much which was just plain false, leading to vast amounts of misinformation and the origin of many myths about the case. Most of the ban breaking was done on the unfortunately named alt.fan.karla-homolka  Usenet newsgroup.
In January of 2005, author Stephen Williams would be sentenced for violating the publication ban by including forbidden details in his two books on Paul and Karla, making him only the second person sentenced for violating the publication ban -- the first being one of the so-called "Electronic ban breakers".
During her imprisonment Karla has received psychological evaluations from at least seven different psychologists who all agreed that Karla exhibited the symptoms of "severe clinical depression, battered spousal syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder," all of which she has been treated for while in prison.
On March 15, 1996 the "Galligan Report" also known as "Report to the Attorney General of Ontario on Certain Matters Relating to Karla Homolka" was delivered to Attorney General Charles Harnick. This report concluded that the plea bargain with Karla Homolka was legitimate and "driven by sheer necessity."
In January 2003 the Toronto Sun published a series of pictures of Karla Homolka in The Joliette Institution, where she was imprisoned. These pictures showed Homolka, apparently at ease, sunbathing, playing with a cat, and on a swingset, among others. At the time, these pictures caused an uproar in the Canadian public who felt that Homolka had gotten off easy with her plea bargain in 1993 and that her environment should be more punitive.
Karla Homolka's release date is July 5, 2005. She will be released free and clear. Because she has served her full term, there will be no monitoring of her as in a parole-type situation. However, numerous provinces have been supportive of the suggestion of filing an application under Section 810.2 of the Canada Criminal Code which would, among other things, prohibit Homolka from contacting convicted sex offenders, using illegal drugs, or spending protracted amounts of time with youths in addition to requiring her to keep the local police informed of her general activities such as her place of residence and employment, with a penalty of a maximum two year prison term for violation. While this may help reasure the public that Homolka will not offend again, it may also be beneficial to Homolka, who, as a high profile and despised figure, may be in danger herself upon her release. A judge must approve an application under Section 810.2 and although it seems likely this would be approved initially, it must be re-submitted each and every year going forward. It's unclear how long this would continue to be approved by a judge, or requested by the Crown.
At some point in 2004 producers from Quantum Entertainment , a Los Angeles based production company, announced the release of the movie Deadly starring Laura Prepon as Karla Homolka and Misha Collins as Paul Bernardo. The Official Website lists the release date as "2005". Since the announcement of the movie, the attorney for the families of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy -- Tim Danson -- has demanded a preview and has been turned down. Various Canadian officials have called for a boycott on the film. As of this writing, there is no Canadian distributor for the film.
There are several misconceptions that show up in the media, in internet chat rooms and on various web pages and bulletin boards regarding Karla Homolka.
- Karla Homolka was diagnosed as a psychopath.
- This is not strictly true. Although she has often been described as such, Homolka's multiple diagnoses as a psychopath have never come from a) trained psychiatric professionals who b) treated her directly.
- The parole board that reviewed Homolka's case in 2001 did refer to her as a psychopath, but these were not trained psychiatric professionals. Numerous other psychologists and psychiatrists have termed her a psychopath, but none had ever actually counseled her directly, resorting instead to interview transcripts, case reports, video documentation, and/or newspaper articles.
- She was directly evaluated by doctors Hans Arndt, Alan Long, Andrew Malcom, Chris Hatcher, Stephen Hucker, Peter Jaffe and Angus McDonald, all of whom were in agreement in terms of her diagnosis as a battered wife suffering from severe clinical depression and post traumatic stress disorder. In fact, Dr. Sharon Williams, an expert on incarcerated sex offenders and psychopaths, and who evaluated her between 1996 and 1999, determined that Karla Homolka was not a psychopath, and not a danger to reoffend.
- Karla Homolka never received any treatment while in prison.
- Homolka participated in every treatment program recommended, until she was asked to participate in a program that had been designed for male sexual offenders. She refused, on the grounds that she was neither male nor a sexual offender (since she had not been convicted as such).
- Karla Homolka's time in prison was filled with parties, and she has done nothing to better herself during that time.
- Homolka took nearly every recommended course and treatment (with the aforementioned exception) during her incarceration, such as "Improving Your Inner Self", "Anger Management", "Survivors of Abuse and Trauma", and many more. She also earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Queen's University, and achieved very high grades.
- At one point, a released inmate leaked photos which showed Homolka at a birthday party. Since Homolka was, at that time, being held in the medium-security Joliette Institution for Women, such birthday parties were common. When the photos were published, the resulting uproar led to Homolka being placed in solitary confinement. It should be noted, however, that Homolka was not the first Joliette inmate to have a birthday party, nor was she the last, nor was it clear that it was even Karla's birthday party portrayed in the pictures.
- Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo created snuff movies.
- By definition, the movies created by Homolka and Bernardo are not snuff films, because they do not show the murders of their victims.
- Karla Homolka has never expressed any remorse for her crimes.
- Homolka expressed remorse numerous times. Most notably to her family in a letter to them regarding the death of her sister Tammy, and to the doctors treating her throughout the years. In fact, in letters to one of her previous psychiatrists, she described in length the continuing nightmares she had regarding the two murdered girls. Whether this remorse is genuine or feigned cannot, of course, be reliably determined.
- Karla Homolka began a lesbian relationship in prison with a woman who had likewise been convicted of helping to rape and torture young girls.
- On September 22, 2000, the Montreal Gazette published an article on Homolka's prison life which gave the impression that Homolka was in a lesbian relationship with convicted child-rapist Christina Sherry (in fact, the article was accompanied by a photo of Homolka and Sherry together, which no doubt reinforced this particular misconception). In fact, Homolka's lesbian relationship was with Lynda Verroneau, who had been convicted of participating in a bank robbery. The independantly wealthy Lynda Verroneau would later sell pictures and stories to the media claiming that Karla had pretended to be her lover in order to get lingerie and a computer.
- Karla Enjoyed (or was Horrified by) the events that took place.
- Karla's "level-of-enjoyment" of course, cannot be judged. Neither argument; that she enjoyed the crimes, or that she was horrified by them, is entirely supported by the evidence. Both sides claim conclusive evidence for their argument, but only Karla knows for sure.
- Karla is getting out of jail and she is going to...
- Many people, including authorities from many Canadian Provinces would love to know what Karla plans to do when she gets out of jail. Karla is not talking and nobody knows. Any rumors are just that -- rumors.
- The Internet has a bunch of Karla Fan Sites!
- On April 09, 2005 the Toronto Star published a story about a supposed "Internet Frenzy" regarding Karla. Although some new sites had popped up in the beginning of 2005 some had also gone away. The article intimated that there were several Fan Sites regarding Karla on the internet. After investigation by at least one internet community, only one site was found which could be classified as a fan-site.
- The videos came to light after the deal with Karla was done. Had they come to light earlier, she would've spent life in jail.
- According to Stephen Williams and the Crowns documents, this is vastly oversimplified. They had an opportunity to both "break the deal" and charge Karla with additional crimes for a period of 8 months between when the tapes were found and authorities agreed not to charge Karla with additional crimes. the police were in posession of the tapes in September of 1994, although the "deal" had been signed in 1993 (and they had been working under the deal under a verbal agreement long before that) they were still able to prosecute Karla for "Jane Doe", and for lies that they uncovered in her earlier testimony (an absolute deal-breaker was lying during her interviews with prosecutors) since they knew she had lied and Stephen Williams published memoes where the crown discussed these lies amongst themselves. Officials agreed not to prosecute her for the "Jane Doe" incidents and they chose not to break the deal with Karla on May 18, 1995. That decision was final.
- Karla will be released on Kristen French's birthday, and the movie Deadly will also be released on that day.
- It is entirely likely that Karla will be released before July 5th (which is, indeed, the birthday of Kristen French). It appears that the Canadian prison system has the authority to release her as early as June 24th, 2005 but she may be released no later than July 5th, 2005. There were numerous articles in the media that Deadly would be released on that same day, but this is untrue. According to the producers of the movie, it will not be released until December 2005.
Gillis, Charlie (March. 21, 2005). "Karla Homolka, Girl Next Door". Maclean's, p. 35.
- Karla Homolka Info - tracking media and articles and general information on Karla as her release date approaches.
- EFF archives: Censorship - Homolka-Teale-Bernardo Case Media Ban & Wired Censorship
- Karla Homolka Message boards and Chat - discussions about her release and various other minutiae regarding the case.
- Robert Baltovich information and timeline.
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