Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Marital partners who were Canadian serial killers

It is extremely rare that marital couples become serial killers but on December 24, 199o, Paul Bernardo, then age 26 and his wife, Karla Homolka, then age 20, (before they were married) committed their first murder. They didn’t deliberately kill Karla Homolka’s younger sister, Tammy but she nevertheless died at their hands.

By 1990, Bernardo was spending large amounts of time with the Homolka family, who liked him. He was engaged to their oldest daughter, Karla, and flirted constantly with the youngest daughter Tammy who was 15 years of age.  He had become obsessed with Tammy, peeping into her window when she was undressing and entering her room to masturbate while she was sleeping. Karla Homolka helped him by breaking the windows in her sisters' room to allow Bernardo access to Tammy’s bedroom. A s you can see, both these killers were weird.

In 1975, Bernardo's father Kenneth fondled a girl and was charged with child molestation. He also sexually abused one of his own daughters. Bernardo's mother became depressed over her husband's abuse, withdrew from family life and lived alone in the basement of their Scarborough home.

 It doesn’t always follow that children of child molesters will invariably become sex offenders but Paul Bernardo certainly became a sex offender. Paul Bernardo committed multiple  sexual assaults, escalating in viciousness, in and around Scarborough, a city in the east of Metropolitan Toronto. Most of the assaults were on fifteen young women whom he had stalked after they exited buses late in the evening and some of them in other locations.

It was on June 7, 1991 when the evil duo Paul and Karla worked together to help Paul achieve his illicit sexual goals. Karla invited the teen, referred to as "Jane Doe" in the ensuing trials, for a "girls' night out. After an evening of shopping and dining, Karla began to serve "Jane Doe" with alcohol laced with Halcion that is a central nervous system  depressant and can put a person asleep.

After "Jane Doe" lost consciousness, Homolka called Bernardo to tell him his surprise wedding gift was ready. They undressed the girl, and Bernardo videotaped Homolka as she sexually molested the girl before Bernardo vaginally and anally penetrated her. The next morning, the teenager was nauseated. She believed her vomiting was due to having drunk alcohol for the first time. She did not realize she had been sexually violated by the evil duo.

The young victim was invited back to Port Dalhousie in August, this time to "spend the night". In a replay of what had previously happened. his time, she stopped breathing after she was drugged while Bernardo was raping her. Homolka called 911 for help but called back a few minutes later when the girl was breathing again. Homolka called 411 to say that "everything is all right." The ambulance was recalled without a follow-up.

On July 24, 1990, Karla Homolka laced spaghetti sauce with crushed Valium she had stolen from her employer at Martindale Animal Clinic. She served the dinner to her sister, who soon lost consciousness. Bernardo then began to rape the unconscious Tammy while Karla watched.    

Six months before their 1991 wedding, Karla Homolka stole the anesthetic agent Halothane from the clinic. On December 23, 1990, Homolka and Bernardo administered sleeping pills to the 15-year-old in a rum-and-eggnog cocktail. After Tammy was unconscious, Homolka and Bernardo undressed her and Karla applied a Halothane soaked cloth to her sister's nose and mouth.

Halothane anesthesia reduces blood pressure, and frequently decreases the pulse rate. Cardiac arrhythmias may occur during Halothane anesthesia. The greater the concentration of the drug, the greater is the risk to anyone who inhales the drug.  Tammy died after inhaling the vapors of Halothane. The death of the young woman was not deliberate. It was manslaughter on Karla Holmoka’s part.

Early in the morning on June 15, 1991, Bernardo took a detour through Burlington, Ontario halfway between Toronto and St. Catharines, to steal licence plates. That is where he found Leslie Mahaffy. The 14-year-old had missed her curfew after attending a funeral, was locked out of her house as punishment, and had been unable to find anyone with whom she could stay overnight. How would you like to be that articular parent after you learned what had happened to your daughter after you refused to let her into your home?

At that time, Bernardo left his car and saw his next victim. Bernardo approached her and said he wanted to break into a neighbour's house. Unfazed, she asked if he had any cigarettes. As Bernardo led her to his car he blindfolded her, forced her into the vehicle and drove her to Port Dalhousie, where he informed his wife, Homolka that they had a playmate. Bernardo and Homolka videotaped themselves torturing and sexually abusing Mahaffy while listening to Bob Marley and David Bowie. At one point, Bernardo said to their young victim,, "You're doing a good job, Leslie, a damned good job." Then he added, "The next two hours are going to determine what I do to you. Right now, you're scoring perfect."

Shortly after, Mahaffy cried out in pain and begged Bernardo to stop. He was sodomizing her while her hands were bound with twine.                           

Unfortunately for the young victim, she later told Bernardo that her blindfold seemed to be slipping. That was an ominous development as it signaled the duo of the possibility that she might be able to identify her tormentors if she was permitted to live.                                                               

The following day, as Bernardo later claimed, Homolka fed her a lethal dose of Halcion. Homolka claimed that, instead, Bernardo strangled her. The pair put her body in their basement. The following day the Homolka family had dinner at the house they were living in.

After the Homolkas and their remaining daughter, Lori, had left, Bernardo and Homolka decided the best way to dispose of the evidence would be to dismember Leslie Mahaffy and encase each piece of her remains in cement. Bernardo bought a dozen bags of cement at a hardware store the following day. He kept the receipts which would prove damaging at his trial. Bernardo used his grandfather's circular saw to cut the body. Bernardo and Homolka then made numerous trips to dump the cement blocks in Lake Gibson, 18 kilometres south of Port Dalhousie. At least one of the blocks weighed 90 kg (200 pounds) and proved beyond the pair's patience or abilities to sink. It rested near the shore, where a father and son on a fishing expedition discovered it on June 29, 1991. Leslie Mahaffy's orthodontic appliance proved instrumental in identifying her.

On the afternoon of April 16, 1992, Bernardo and Homolka were driving through St. Catharines to look for potential victims. It was after school hours on the day before Good Friday. Students were still going home but by and large the streets were empty. As they passed Holy Cross Secondary School, a main Catholic high school in the city's north end, they spotted Kristen French, a 15-year-old student, walking briskly to her nearby home. The couple pulled into the parking lot of nearby Grace Lutheran Church and Homolka got out of the car, map in hand, pretending to need assistance.

As French looked at the map, Bernardo attacked her from behind, brandishing a knife and forcing her into the front seat of their car. From her back seat, Homolka controlled the girl by pulling down her hair.

French took the same route home every day, taking about 15 minutes to get home in order to attend to her dog's needs. Soon after she should have arrived, her parents became convinced that she had met with foul play and notified police. Within 24 hours, Niagara Regional Police had assembled a team and searched the area along her route and found several witnesses who had seen the abduction from different locations, thus giving police a fairly clear picture. In addition, one of French's shoes, recovered from the parking lot, underscored the seriousness of the girl’s abduction.

Over the three days of Easter weekend, Bernardo and Homolka videotaped themselves as they tortured, raped and sodomized Kristen French, forcing her to drink large amounts of alcohol and to behave submissively to Bernardo. At Bernardo's trial, Crown prosecutor Ray Houlahan said that Bernardo always intended to kill her because she was never blindfolded and was capable of identifying her captors.

The following day, the couple murdered French before going to the Homolkas' for Easter dinner. Homolka later testified at her trial that Bernardo had strangled French for exactly seven minutes while she watched. Bernardo said Homolka beat her with a rubber mallet because she had tried to escape and that French ended up being strangled on a noose tied around her neck secured to a hope chest. Immediately thereafter, Homolka went out to fix her hair.

French's nude body was found in a ditch on April 30, 1992 in Burlington, approximately 45 minutes from St. Catharines, and a short distance from the cemetery where Leslie Mahaffy is buried. She had been washed and her hair had been cut off. It had been thought that the hair was removed as a trophy, but Homolka testified that the hair had been cut to impede identification. The latter reason wouldn’t impede ID of the victim since her DNA could show who she really was.

Homolka and Bernardo had been questioned by police several times – in connection with the Scarborough Rapist investigation, Tammy Lyn Homolka's death, Bernardo's stalking of other women – before the death of Kristen French. The officer filed a report, and on 12 May 1992, an Niagara Regional Police Service (NRP) sergeant and constable interviewed Bernardo briefly. The officers decided that he was an unlikely suspect, although Bernardo admitted having been questioned in connection with the Scarborough rapes.

Three days later, the Green Ribbon Task Force was created to investigate the murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. Meanwhile the couple applied to have their names changed legally from Bernardo and Homolka to Teale, which Bernardo had taken from the villain of the 1988 movie Criminal Law —a serial killer. At the end of May, John Motile, an acquaintance of Smirnis and Bernardo, also reported Bernardo as a possible murder suspect.

On December 27,  1992, Bernardo severely beat Homolka with a flashlight on the limbs, head and face. Claiming that she had been in an automobile accident, the severely bruised Homolka returned to work on the 4th of  January 1993. Her skeptical co-workers called Homolka's parents, who assumed they were 'rescuing' 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 her injuries were documented, and she gave a statement to Niagara Regional Police claiming she had been a battered spouse and filed charges against Bernardo. He was arrested but later released on his own recognizance. A friend who found Bernardo's suicide note intervened. Homolka moved in with relatives in Brampton.

Twenty-six months after the sample had been submitted, Toronto police were informed that Bernardo's DNA 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 telling her their suspicions about Bernardo, Homolka concentrated on his abuse of her. Later that night she told her aunt and uncle that her husband was the Scarborough Rapist, that they were involved in the rapes and murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, and that the rapes were recorded on video tape. The Niagara Regional Police meanwhile, re-opened the investigation into Tammy Homolka's death.

On February 11, 1993, Homolka met with Niagara Falls lawyer George Walker who sought full immunity from St Catharines' Crown Attorney Ray Houlahan in exchange for her cooperation. Homolka was then placed under 24-hour surveillance.

Three days later, George Walker met with Murray Segal, Director of the Crown Criminal Law Office. Walker told Segal of videotapes of the rapes and Segal advised Walker that, considering Homolka's involvement in the crimes, full immunity was not a possibility.

The Metro Sexual Assault Squad and Green Ribbon Task Force detectives arrested Bernardo on numerous charges on 17th of February 1993, and obtained search warrants. Because Bernardo's link to the murders was weak, however, the warrant contained limitations. No evidence that was not expected and documented in the warrant was permitted to be removed from the premises. All video tapes the police found had to be viewed in the house. Damage to the house 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 the police had a short segment depicting Homolka performing oral sex on a victim referred to as "Jane Doe".

On May 5, 1993, Walker was informed that the government was offering Homolka a 12-year sentence plea bargain that 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, 1993, the plea agreement between Homolka and the Crown was finalized, and she began giving her induced statements to police investigators.

Newspapers in Buffalo, Detroit, Washington, D.C., New York City and Britain, together with border radio and television stations, reported details gleaned from sources at Homolka's trial.

Bernardo's trial for the murders of French and Mahaffy took place in 1995, and included detailed testimony from Homolka and videotapes of the rapes. The trial was subject to a publication ban which applied to Canadian newspapers and media, and the venue was moved to Toronto from St. Catharines, where the murders occurred. However, the ban did not affect American newspapers and television stations from nearby Buffalo, New York from reporting trial proceedings, which were easily seen in Southern Ontario. During the trial, Bernardo claimed the deaths were accidental, and later claimed that his wife was the actual killer. 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. In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be released from prison.

n return for a plea bargain (12 years in prison for manslaughter), Homolka testified against Bernardo in his murder trial. This plea bargain received much public criticism from Canadians especially when it was learned that  Bernardo's first defence lawyer Ken Murray had withheld for 17 months videotapes that Bernardo made. This was considered crucial evidence, and prosecutors said that they would have never agreed to the plea bargain given to Homolka if they had seen the tapes. Murray was later charged with obstruction of justice, of which he was acquitted. As a lawyer for Bernardo, he was under no legal obligation to disclose the tapes that would prove his client’s guilt since the location of the tapes (found in a ceiling in the house) that would establish the guilt of his client. After the trials of both these killers, the tape was destroyed by the authorities.

Bernardo has been kept in the segregation unit at the Kingston penitentiary for his own safety; nonetheless, he was been attacked and harassed. Once he was punched in the face by another inmate while returning from a shower in 1996. In June 1999, five convicts tried to storm the segregation range where Bernardo lived, and a riot squad had to use gas to disperse them. In September 2013, Bernardo was moved from Kingston Penitentiary, owing to its impending closure, to Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ontario and is incarcerated in the segregation unit.

He was also declared a dangerous offender which in effect, can keep him in prison indefinitely.

In 2006, Bernardo gave an interview in prison suggesting he had reformed and would make a good candidate for parole. And while they are at it, the fox should be given the key to the henhouse.

 Following Homolka’s release from prison, she settled in the province of Quebec, where she married again and gave birth to a boy. In 2007, the Canadian press reported that she had left Canada for the Antilles with her new husband and their baby, and had changed her name to Leanne Teale. In 2012, journalist Paula Todd found Homolka living in Guadeloupe, under the name Leanne Bordelais, with her husband and their three children.

It is unfortunate that the hidden video tape wasn’t used in her trial. If it had been used, she would also be given a life sentence in prison. I can’t help but wonder how her children with think of her if and when they ever learn who their mother really was—the wicked witch from hell.

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