Victim Studies 013: Paul Bernardo

on February 28, 2012 in Serial Killers, Victim Studies, Victimology by

Paul Bernardo, otherwise known as Paul Jason Teate, is a serial killer who was charged with two first-degree murder charges, two sexual assaults, two counts of forcible confinement, two counts of kidnapping and one count of performing an indignity on a human body. He was found guilty on September 1, 1995 and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Although he was charged with the murders of two people, Bernardo is suspected of murdering two other women and committing more than 13 additional rapes throughout Scarborough, Ontario from 1987 until 1993.

As the case with many serial killers, Bernardo began his life of crime by raping many young women. It is believed that Bernardo committed his first rape in 1987, at the age of 22. Most of his rapes were committed at bus stops or after stalking girls to their homes after they left the bus stop. Bernardo differed from other serial rapists because he made the torture last for upwards of 30 minutes each time, while most rapists choose to leave quickly out of fear of being caught. These violent rapes gave rise to the title of the “Scarborough Rapist”. Bernardo was one man, out of 130 suspects, who gave DNA to prove that he was not the Scarborough rapist. After the sample was given however, Bernardo moved from Scarborough to St. Catherines causing the violent rapes in Scarborough to stop and the investigation to be put on the back burner. Bernardo’s sample was not be tested until 1993, the year of his arrest.

There are two known life events that are thought to have contributed to Bernardo’s life of crime. The first life event occurred when Bernardo was 16 years of age. During a fight with Bernardo’s mother he was told that her husband was not his real father. Bernardo began to call his mother a whore and a slob on a regular basis; he eventually despised her. The second life event occurred when Bernardo’s father, Kenneth, became a known sex offender. Kenneth was known to have molested his daughter, Bernardo’s sister, was a peeping tom around town and was eventually charged with child molestation. Some people who knew the family claimed that Bernardo idolized his father and began to learn from him. He lived in a home where he was considered to be illegitimate and child molestation was tolerated.

The murder series did not begin until Bernardo was introduced to his future wife, and partner in crime, Karla Homolka, in 1987. Homolka would not only support Bernardo when he raped women around Scarborough, but also brought potential victims to their home. It is believed that because Homolka supported Bernardo’s criminal behaviour that he became increasingly violent and dangerous.

All of Bernardo’s known murder victims were young women, between the ages of 14 and 15. The victims were all Caucasian and were thought to have grown up in stable homes. Some experts believe that Bernardo would target young women in the hopes of taking their virginity. The victims had been drugged, strangled or beaten to death by Bernardo or Homolka. It is because of Bernardo and Homolka’s differing testimonies and the conditions of the decomposing bodies that investigators were unable to determine all of the causes of death.

Each victim was lured into Bernardo’s home, murdered and disposed of differently. The first murder victim, Homolka’s younger sister, Tammy Homlka, was not a planned murder. Homolka had given Tammy Valium, sleeping pills and later Halothane, in order for Bernardo to take Tammy’s virginity while she was unconscious. Homolka later claimed that she felt that she had to give Tammy’s virginity to Bernardo because Homolka was not a virgin when they started dating. Tammy later choked to death on her own vomit, her remains were dressed and placed back into her own bed so that her death was seen as accidental.

The second murder victim, Leslie Mahaffy, was kidnapped by Bernardo outside of her home and then taken to the Bernardo home. She was violently raped, sodomized and molested by Bernardo and Homolka for one day before being murdered. Bernardo claimed that Homolka caused Leslie to overdose, while Homolka claimed that Bernardo had strangled Leslie to death. Leslie’s remains were left in the basement while the Homolka family visited for dinner. Leslie’s remains were dismembered when guests left the Bernardo home and her remains were incased into cement blocks, which were later dumped into the Lake Gibson.

The last known murder victim, Kristen French, was kidnapped after Homolka and Bernardo went looking for a new victim. Homolka pretended to be lost and read a map to lure Kristen in. Bernardo snuck up from behind Kristen and threatened her with a knife until she got into the front seat of their car. It is believed that Homolka helped to kidnap Kristen as an Easter present for Bernardo. Kristen was violently raped and sodomized over the course of 3 days. Kristen was murdered before Bernardo and Homolka went to Easter dinner. Bernardo claimed that Homolka beat Kristen to death with a rubber mallet, while Homolka claimed that Bernardo strangled her to death. Kristen’s remains were discovered nude and hairless in a ditch. Since there were so many varying methods of murder and disposal that police did not see a connection in the murders.

Each of the murder victims had been recorded while they were raped, sodomized and tortured. Bernardo and Homolka kept the recordings to watch them at later points in time. On some occasions the pair would keep articles of the victims’ clothing to wear in their own recordings, this includes a recording where Homolka was wearing her deceased sister’s clothing while Homolka and Bernardo engaged in intercourse. The camera was not recording while the victims were murdered. Bernardo usually bound and blindfolded his victims, and would threaten them with more violence unless they behaved and did as they were told. However, when the girls became obedient and did not protest Bernardo would hurt them until they would scream. Bernardo wanted to remain in control, going as far as to tell Homolka exactly where to touch the young girls while they were bound on the floor.

Experts claimed that Bernardo had an obsession with violently sodomizing his victims, which is something that was also found in the recordings. Some of Bernardo’s rape victims were recorded, one in particular, Jane Doe, was recorded after Homolka drugged her with Halcion tablets and alcohol. The recording showed Bernadro violently sodomizing Jane and later showed Homolka molesting the unconscious girl. Homolka later cleaned up the blood and placed the girl into the guest bedroom. The young girl complained of being sore, but assumed that it was because of the alcoholic beverages.

On December 27, 1992 Homolka was severely beaten by Bernardo with a flashlight and charges were placed against him. The police were notified that the DNA sample taken from Bernardo matched that of the Scarborough Rapist in February of 1993, and so Bernardo was placed on 24-hour surveillance. During this time the Metro Toronto Sexual Assault Squad questioned Homolka about the violent rapes and murders. Although Homolka denied the accusations at first, she later confessed to her relatives about Bernardo raping and murdering multiple women. On February 17, 1993 Bernardo was arrested on many murder and rape charges. Homolka was offered a 12-year sentence plea bargain to testify against Bernardo on May 5, 1993, which she accepted.

It was during Bernardo’s murder trial that the recordings of Homolka’s involvement in the murders were discovered, however, because of the plea bargain she accepted there was nothing that could be done to change the charges or sentences placed against her. On September 1, 1995 Bernardo was found guilty of committing 2 first-degree murder charges, 2 counts aggravated sexual assaults, 2 counts of forcible confinement, 2 counts of kidnapping and one count of performing an indignity on a human body. He was sentenced to life in prison, without parole. Bernardo continues to be a suspect for 2 additional murders and more than 13 rapes which took place around Ontario.

Sources:
Paul Bernardo on Wikipedia
Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka SerialKillers.ca
Horror of Paul Bernardo crimes continues to haunt by Jim Rankin on TheStar.com
Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka by Marilyn Bardsley on TruTV.com
Karla Homolka on Wikipedia
Paul Bernardo on the Radford University Serial Killer Timelines

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