There have been murderous couples throughout history. There have been a couple who have been covered on this podcast. Fred and Rose West, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer, Susan Ibrahim and Bilal Musa. What makes two people come together and decide to torture and murder people? The other question is, why is it when two of them get together do they choose to take pictures and/or record their crimes? One of the most sickening couples who have come out of Canada recorded their victims’ tragic murders. Meet Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, the deadly couple known as the Ben and Barbie Killers.
Karla Leanne Homolka was born on May 4, 1970, in St. Catherines in Canada. She would be the oldest of three girls. Some childhood friends were interviewed, and they described her as being dominant as a little girl. In high school, she was popular and created a clique called the Exclusive Diamond Club, known for short as EDC. The name was because the EDC girls were trying to find an older, handsome man, get married, and live a lavish life. A couple of people who went to high school with her remember that Karla had a dark side. One girl remembers Karla saying to her, “I’d like to put dots all over somebody’s body and take a knife and then play connect the dots and then pour vinegar all over them. At 17, she told her parents that she wanted to visit her boyfriend in Kansas. Her parents said no, but Karla still went. She would phone them to tell them that she would be back in two weeks. Later, she and her friends went to a pet-store convention in Toronto because Karla wanted to be a veterinarian. At night, Karla was hungry, so she went to the store to get snacks. This is where she would meet her future partner, 23-year old Paul Bernardo.
Karla’s and Paul’s Relationship
After meeting that fateful night, Karla and Paul had sex while Karla’s friend had sex with a man in the bed next to them. From the beginning, they were all about kinky, unconventional sex. It quickly turned to Paul being the “master” and Karla being the “slave.” She became utterly submissive to him.
In front of Karla’s parents, Paul played the sweet, loving boyfriend, and her parents loved him. He would visit her every weekend and during the week and always brought gifts. Karla was able to convince her parents to have Paul sleep on the couch. In the middle of the night, Paul would sneak upstairs and have crazy sex with Karla. One night, Karla saw Paul sneak around and watch her 12-year old sister Tammy undressing to go to bed. Even then, she continued being obsessed with Paul.
Paul was seeing other women and his interest in Karla slowly started turning cold. It got to the point that all he wanted from her was oral sex. It also could be that two months after meeting Karla, Paul was brutally raping women. Between May 1987 and December 1992, Paul raped at least 18 women. Karla started becoming more sexually adventurous. This includes handcuffs and other “sick, perverted acts” so that he can continue being with her. The other issue that Paul had was that Karla was not a virgin before they started having sex. He started becoming more and more emotionally abusive by having her call herself degrading names.
In February 1988, Paul was going to break up with Karla if she didn’t perform sodomy, so she did even though before she refused to do it. When it happened, he started taking pictures of the sexual act, including tying a black electrical cord around her neck. Paul then produced a knife but told her it was just to get him more excited.
Everyone around them only saw a happy, beautiful couple.
Two years later, in the winter of 1990, Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo became engaged and were planning to have their wedding in June 1991. During this time, Karla and Paul started including the fantasy of Karla’s little sister Tammy in their sexual acts. Karla would dress in Tammy’s clothes, have sex in Tammy’s room, and while doing sexual things, Paul would be looking at Tammy’s pic. I am not sure why Paul focused so much on Tammy and not Karla’s other sister Lori, who has changed her name, but I want to respect her privacy, so I won’t include it. Maybe cause Tammy was younger, so that made her more innocent. Either way, Paul’s obsession with Tammy and Karla’s obsession with Paul and not having a moral compass will turn these fantasies into a sick reality.
Paul was still upset that Karla wasn’t a virgin when they first met, so Karla decided in December 1990 to give Tammy’s virginity as a gift to him. She would say that she was afraid that the wedding wouldn’t take place, so it was like a “Christmas wedding present.”
On December 24, 1990, on Christmas Eve, Karla and Paul waited for Karla’s parents to go to bed. When they did, Tammy was left alone with the couple. I’m not sure where the middle sister Lori was, but they were left alone with the 15-year old Tammy. The two set up the camcorder to record the entire act. They started giving Tammy eggnog spiked with Halcion. Halcion is like Valium, and it’s given to people suffering from insomnia to help them sleep. In the video, you can hear them urging her to keep drinking. They put a movie on. When the movie ended, Tammy had passed out. Karla then went and got the halothane, which is an anesthetic. She poured it in a cloth and put it on Tammy’s face.
Paul started raping Tammy. The most sickening part is that Karla did as well. She raped her own sister. Her underage sister had no idea what was going on and never consented. The two didn’t realize until it was too late that the young girl had vomited and choked on her own vomit. They dressed the now-deceased Tammy, took her to her bedroom, and called 911. The police officer who responded would later recall that he noticed cherry red marks on Tammy’s face. When he asked what happened, the couple said that they had to drag her from the living room to the bedroom. Even so, Tammy’s death was ruled as accidental.
Naturally, Karla’s parents were devastated by the loss of their youngest daughter. Instead of feeling guilt and remorse for what she did, Karla was only upset that her parents were not happier for her wedding. She wrote to a friend who talked about how her parents won’t help pay for the wedding. She calls them “Fucking parents. They are being so stupid. Only thinking of themselves.” Karla continues with how her father hasn’t worked but a day and just wants to be miserable. She ends the letter saying, “What assholes.”
She also wrote a letter to Paul saying, “I loved it when you f*ed my little sister. We like little girls. The girls should be thirteen.” She keeps going, but it is extremely graphic.
They even continued their fantasy of Tammy, but now had what they had actually done with the tape that they played while in Tammy’s bedroom. The two would also film various videos of their role-playing.
Karla’s parents started getting uneasy with Paul around, so they asked that he move out. Karla would move out with him. Paul had already been emotionally and physically abusive, but it became worse when they moved out of Karla’s parents’ home. Even so, Karla still wanted to marry Paul.
On June 6, 1991, Karla invited a 15-year old girl over for a sleepover while Paul was out. The girl had looked up to Karla since she was 12, so she eagerly said yes. While they were watching a movie, Karla started drugging the girl by spiking her drinks. When the girl was knocked out, Karla called Paul to tell him she had a surprise wedding gift. Paul was scared because of Tammy’s death, but Karla told him she had gotten it right this time. They videotaped both of them raping the young girl. The girl was drugged, so she had no idea what happened to her.
On June 14, 1991, Paul encountered 14-year old Leslie Mahaffy. Leslie had been at the funeral of friends who had died in a car crash. She then was with friends until 2AM. When she tried the door that was usually left unlocked, Leslie found it locked. She tried spending the night at her friend’s house, but her friend said no. So the girl sat in her backyard on the family’s picnic bench. Paul approached the girl, and they started chatting. He coerced her into his car, and then he kidnapped the girl. Paul videotaped the repeated rape of the girl. Karla would go upstairs and hold the camera for Paul. Leslie suffered for 24 hours. Karla and Paul talked and decided to murder the girl. Karla recommended that they use sleeping pills. However, Paul strangled Leslie. He told Karla to destroy the bedsheets, but she said it was her favorite, so she would wash them. Paul would then cut Leslie’s body into ten pieces. He covered the ten body parts in cement blocks. He and Karla would throw them in Lake Gibson.
Two weeks later, on June 29, 1991, Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo got married. That same day Leslie’s body parts were discovered.
The following year in April 1992, the two targetted 15-year old Kristen French. They followed her in their car, and when she was alone, Karla approached the girl asking for directions. While Kristen was giving Karla directions, Paul forced her into the car. For three days, Karla and Paul raped Kristen and videotaped it. During the three days, Paul left Karla alone with Kristen twice. Kristen took the opportunity to try and plead to Karla to please let her go. Karla didn’t. Kristen started getting more defiant, and that was not something Paul liked. The third day was when he strangled Kristen to death. They then dumped Kristen’s body on the side of the road after cleaning it thoroughly. She was found 14 days later.
Paul became more abusive towards Karla. There is a picture online of Karla’s eyes completely black. This is when she finally left Paul on December 27, 1992. On February 1, 1992, Paul’s DNA led the police to believe he was the prime suspect in the murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. On February 9, 1992, the police interviewed Karla, who stayed at her aunt’s and uncle’s house. When the police left, Karla told her aunt and uncle that there were tapes of Paul and her having sex with Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. They took her to see a lawyer.
On February 17, 1993, Paul was arrested for the rapes. When they searched the home, they found the videotapes of Leslie and Kristen, but not their murders. They also saw the tape of the 15-year old Karla had drugged to give her as a “wedding gift” to Paul.
In March 1993, the attorney had her undergo a seven-week psychiatric assessment. Karla also got a plea deal of 12 years in prison to testify against Paul. Before it was found, she was a willing participant in the murders of the two teenaged girls and her sister.
Paul went to jail for life. In 2005, after serving 12 years, Karla was released from prison. She married an attorney Thierry Bordelais, and they have three children. Karla Homolka became Leanne Bordelais. Journalists found her volunteering at an elementary school. When parents found out, they complained to the school to ban her from being on school property. She would move away in 2007 to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. In 2012, journalist Paula Todd found her. Karla would move back to Canada. A Facebook Page has been created, “Watching Karla Homolka,” to provide information on her whereabouts. There is also a petition with over 38,500 names to add her name to the National Sex Offenders Registry. Karla’s parents have not spoken to her. During the trial, they seemed supportive, and when she was sentenced, they gave her a “going away party.” However, when she was about to be released, her father, Karel Homolka, said no one in the family would be there to greet her. However, in a television interview, Karla said her relationship with her parents is great. Her sister Lori has also had a relationship with her.
Karla Homolka should still be in jail. Paul Bernardo is evil, but so is she. She was a willing participant and even helped with planning the rape and murder of the girls. The detective who held on to the tapes while she was making the plea deal left his job, and he should because if he had watched the videos, Karla would not have gotten out in 12 years. Throughout this, she showed no remorse for anything that she did. I can’t believe that her aunt and uncle got her an attorney. Even if they thought she had not to murder those girls, she participated in the rape of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.
Recently, in the Netflix show “Dont F** With Cats,” it was shown that Karla’s sister Lori got one of the body parts. Maybe it had to do with the notoriety of her sister. Karla seems to be living a quiet life. Still, it makes you wonder if underneath this supposed rehabilitation is that she actually is rehabilitated or just hasn’t found the right partner to carry out the twisted fantasies that she once shared with Paul Bernardo.