Victim Studies 014: Karla Homolka

on March 8, 2012 in Serial Killers, Victim Studies, Victimology by

Karla Leanne Homolka, also known as Leanne Teale, is a serial killer who was found guilty on two counts of manslaughter for the murders of two young women in Ontario, Canada. In 1993, Homolka was only found guilty of manslaughter because the plea bargain that was offered to her to testify against her ex-husband, Paul Barnardo. It is believed that had evidence against her been found prior to the plea bargain, Homolka would have been found guilty of 2 first-degree murder charges with her ex-husband. She was released from prison in 2005.

Homolka had what many consider to be a normal childhood. Her parents did not abuse alcohol or drugs, nor did they abuse their children. Homolka was raised in a middle-class home where she did not need to struggle for much. In 1987, at the age of 17, she met her ex-husband and partner in crime, Paul Bernardo. Within hours they were inseparable and Bernardo began to share his dark secrets. Bernardo had raped many women throughout Scarborough, Ontario. He divulged this secret to Homolka and not only did she support him, but would also come to watch some of the rapes. One of the rape victims recalled seeing a woman holding a video camera while they were being raped, but police disregarded this information and instead believed that the victim had imagined it.

All of the known murder victims were young women between the ages of 14 and 16. They were Caucasian and from middle-class families. It is believed that Homolka would try to find young girls for Bernardo in the hopes that they were still virgins. Homolka claimed that Bernardo was upset that she was not a virgin when they met, which caused her to feel like she had to make it up to him. She decided to make this up to him by finding potential victims, raping them with Bernardo and then eventually murdering them. These girls were considered “gifts” and Homolka believed that they would make Bernardo’s wandering eyes stay with her.

Most of the victims were drugged prior and during their torture. At the time of the kidnappings Homolka was working at Mardinale Animal Clinic, which allowed her to have access to the drugs Halcion and halothane. These drugs were used with Valium to render the rape and the murder victims unconscious and completely helpless. While the girls were inebriated they were bound and raped repeatedly. The murder victims were violently raped for more than 24 hours each. Throughout the torture Homolka and Bernardo would take turn recording the events. Months after Homolka’s arrest six videotapes were discovered which documented the victims’ torture.

The way victims were lured into being kidnapped, their cause of death and the way in which the bodies were disposed of were different in each case. The first murder victim was that of Homolka’s younger sister, Tammy Homolka. Tammy’s virginity was intended to be an early Christmas present for Bernardo. In order to make Tammy unconscious Homolka laced her food with Valium and Halcion. When Homolka’s parents went to sleep, Homolka set up the video camera and both Bernardo and Homolka took turns raping and molesting Tammy. It is because of Homolka’s inexperience with administering these drugs on both animals and people that Tammy subsequently choked to death on her vomit during the rape. Tammy’s body was dressed and placed back into her bed, making her death look accidental. The video recording not only showed this rape, but also showed Homolka wearing her deceased sister’s clothing while having intercourse with Bernardo sometime after the funeral.

The second victim, Leslie Mahaffy, was kidnapped from outside her home, while Bernardo was looking for license plates to steal. She was later bound and blindfolded in Homolka and Bernardo’s basement. Both Homolka and Bernardo raped the girl for approximately 24 hours and recorded most of the torture. The cause of death was never determined because Bernardo claimed that Homolka murdered her with an overdose of Halcion, while Homolka claims that Bernardo strangled her to death with an electrical cord. After Homolka hosted a Father’s Day dinner, the remains were cut into pieces, incased in cement blocks and then placed into Lake Gibson. The police knew that the murder did not live in this area because the remains were not dumped into the deepest part of the lake.

The last murder victim, Kristen French, was kidnapped from a church parking lot when Homolka pretended to be lost. Bernardo had forced her into the car with a knife and then drove to their home. The girl was recorded, raped, tortured and then murdered after 3 days. Experts who watched the tapes concluded that when this victim cooperated with the couple, that they would become more violent and humiliate her until she could not physically do so anymore. The cause of death was never discovered as Bernardo claimed Homolka beat Kristen to death with a mallet, while Homolka claimed that Bernardo strangled her with a noose. Her remains were discovered with her hair cut off, nude and in a ditch.

On December 27, 1992 Homolka was severly beaten by Bernardo, which allowed her to get sympathy from the police and her family. Homolka pressed charges against Bernardo for the abuse he caused. Around the same time police were able to tie DNA that Bernardo had given years before to that of the Scarborough Rapist. After hearing about Homolka’s injuries decided to ask if she knew anything about the rapes and Bernardo’s involvement. Although she denied it at first, she later confessed to family and then to police that Bernardo had raped and murdered many women.
It is believed by some that detectives and other experts assumed Homolka suffered from Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) and was a victim of Bernardo. BWS causes the abused to believe that they are to blame for the abuse and so will go along with whatever the abuser says and does. Her bruises and shaken confession caused the detectives and the Canadian Crown to feel sympathetic. They offered Homolka a plea bargain, she would receive 2 counts of manslaughter for the 2 murders, which would accumulate to a 12 year prison sentence, in exchange for her testimony against Bernardo. This, to many people throughout the world, became known as the deal with the devil.

Although Homolka agreed to have full-disclosure regarding the rapes and murders, she did not mention the six videotapes, which were hidden in the ceiling, to the police. Instead, Bernardo’s lawyer held them for many months to build a case against Homolka, this was intended to disprove her innocence. These tapes were brought to light after Bernardo’s first lawyer quit, and caste a whole new light on Homolka’s personality. Prior to this plea bargain Homolka claimed that she had not been involved in the murders, but knew how and when they occurred. She was no longer seen as the victim, instead she was seen as an accomplice to the rapes and murders of several young women. However, because she had already accepted the plea bargain there was nothing that could be done to change the outcome of her trail.

Just as promised, Homolka received 12 years in prison for 2 counts of manslaughter, while Bernardo received life in prison for all nine charges, including 2 first-degree murder charges. It is believed that had those tapes been discovered by police prior to the plea bargain Homolka would have received two first-degree murder charges as well. While in prison, at taxpayers’ expense, Homolka earned a degree in psychology from Queen’s University. On July 4, 2005, at the age of 35, she was released from prison. She currently resides in Quebec, is remarried and has 3 children of her own.

Sources:
Karla Homolka on Wikipedia
Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka by Marilyn Bardsley on TruTV.com
Karla Homolka – Child Rapist, Torturer and Killer by Charles Montaldo on About.com
Karla Homolka lives life of
birthday cakes and baseball in “adult daycare,” ex-inmate says
by Paul Cherry in the Montreal Gazette
Transcript of Karla Homolka’s interview from the Canadian Press
Paul Bernardo from the Serial Killer Timelines on Radford.edu
Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka on Karisable.com
Homolka hated for her lack of remorse: author from the Canadian Press
Battered Woman Defense on Wikipedia
Battered Person Syndrome on Wikipedia

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