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The woman who only got 12 years for multiple counts of rape and murder.

The disturbing true story of Karla Homolka

By Sara WilsonPublished 3 years ago 13 min read

Karla Leanna Homolka, also known as Leanne Teale, or Leanne Bordelais, was born on May 4, 1970 in Port Credit, Canada. She was the oldest of three daughters. Karla seemed to be a normal kid. She was pretty, popular, everyone loved her. She was said to love animals and worked in a vet's office. However, she really wasn't as normal as she wanted the world to think. As an adult, Karla would confess to throwing her friend's pet hamster out of a two story window and laughing about it as her friend cried. When she was 17, she went to a pet convention and met the man who would be her husband, Paul Bernardo. Paul was 23 years old and a college student.

Karla Homolka as a child

Paul was your typical romance movie type of character, but only by his looks. Tall, handsome, charming. Everything you wouldn't expect a serial killer to be. Paul and Karla immediately hit it off. It was said that the first night they met, they talked for hours until the restaurant they were in closed, then they went to Karla's hotel room and had sex.

Karla and Paul

From the minute they decided to be a couple, they went around telling everyone how perfect they were for each other. Karla gushed about how amazing Paul was, bragging to her friends that he constantly sent her flowers and other gifts. Paul claimed Karla was his soul mate and that he would do anything for her and knew that she would do anything for him as well.

Everyone liked Paul. He had many friends and was so charming that he could easily make friends wherever he went. In the Fall of 1997 when Karla and Paul met, everything in their relationship seemed picture perfect. He would often show up with flowers or gifts. He treated her very well. Always thinking of her and expressing his love for her. Karla's family loved Paul. He was well educated, handsome, a great catch. None of them were bothered by the age gap between them. They just saw a perfect match.

Karla graduated high school in the Spring of 1989. By this time, she and Paul had been together for about 18 months. At this point, she was ready to start figuring out what she was gonna do next with her life. The bragging to her friends of how great Paul was and how perfect he treated her were steadily dying down. Now Karla was constantly complaining about Paul's verbal abuse towards her. They would argue, but soon after she would forgive him. He would bring a gift and then it was like nothing ever happened.

In December of 1989, Paul and Karla took a romantic vacation to Niagara Falls. It was there that Paul proposed to Karla and she said, "Yes". Everybody was so excited for the couple and Karla's family were thrilled to be getting Paul as a son in law. Just as the couple started planning their Spring wedding, the police released a sketch of a man that was said to be "The Scarborough Rapist".

Police sketch

Many of Paul's friends began to call the police station and tell them that the drawing looked just like Paul. The police found him and brought him in for questioning and took a sample of his DNA. That DNA sat on a shelf for months due to the fact that police had many other samples to go through as well. Paul and Karla moved into Karla's family's house. That was when the rapes in Scarborough suddenly stopped. None of Karla's family thought Paul was responsible for any of the crimes committed. They all thought he was so great and perfect and couldn't even imagine him being a rapist. They all put him on a pedestal, especially Karla's 15 year old sister, Tammy. She looked up to him like the big brother she always wanted.

Tammy Homolka

At this point, Paul had never confessed what he had done in Scarborough to Karla. She was completely unaware. What she did notice though, was that he had taken a particular liking for Tammy. Karla said he would often give her a lot of special attention and on several occasions had even made her pretend to be her sister during sex. He eventually told Karla that he wanted to actually have sex with Tammy. Karla said that she just wanted to make Paul happy because she loved him and didn't want him to leave her so she agreed to let him have sex with her 15 year old sister. It would be her Christmas present to her soon to be husband.

On December 23, 1990, after the family had gone to sleep, Karla made Tammy an alcoholic drink that had been laced with a drug called Halcion. Karla said that she didn't think the pills were enough to keep her asleep so she also used a bottle of Halothane from the clinic she was working at. She used it to sedate her sister while Paul raped her. When Paul was done, he got off of Tammy and told Karla it was her turn. She obliged. They filmed everything, taking turns holding the camera.

A picture of Karla Homolka's night stand on the night of Tammy's murder. That tape is the video tape of her rape and murder. Police took this picture, but never took the tape.

During the rape, Tammy, still unconscious began to throw up. She choked on her own vomit which ultimately led to her death. Karla and Paul cleaned up the crime scene and covered up the assault before calling 911. The couple told paramedics they had found her drunk and tried to revive her but it hadn't worked. She was taken to the hospital and later pronounced dead. One of the doctors noticed a burn on her mouth- where Karla had held the rag that was soaked in Halothane- Karla and Paul said it was just rug burn from where they had pulled her across the carpet when they found her. No further questions were asked and the doctors concluded that Tammy had died from natural causes.

On February 1, 1991, Paul and Karla moved out of the family home into their own house in Port Dalhousie. When they moved, it was said that Paul's abuse really turned up. He told her that he was, in fact, The Scarborough Rapist- although he said he was just joking. At this point, Karla said that she wanted to leave him because he was not only verbally abusing her, but physically as well. He replied that if she ever did that, he would go to the police and tell them what she had done to Tammy. So Karla stayed.

The house the couple shared. It, along with Paul's car, has since been demolished.

Leslie Mahaffy

Two weeks before their wedding, Paul surprised Karla with a "wedding gift". Paul had brought Karla a 14 year old girl named Leslie Mahaffy. The couple held the girl in their home where they recorded each other attacking and raping her repeatedly for at least 24 hours before strangling her and dismembering her body. They put different body parts of her body into concrete blocks and dropped those blocks into Lake Gibson.

On June 29, 1991, Paul and Karla were married. Paul wrote the couples vows and made sure that they included the terms "Man and wife" over "husband and wife" because Paul wanted to "establish dominance over Karla". He also chose to add that Karla would "Love, Honor, and Obey" him. The same day, fisherman at Lake Gibson came across the concrete blocks that contained the arms, legs, feet, and head of Leslie Mahaffy. The next day, another fisherman found her torso. Karla and Paul took their honeymoon in Hawaii while the police began the murder investigation.

1 of 8 concrete blocks found in Lake Gibson containing Leslie Mahaffys torso .Mahaffy's body was found dismembered and encased in concrete on June 29, 1991 in Lake Gibson near St. Catharines, Ontario. The concrete block containing the torso weighed over 200 pounds.

Over the next year, Karla invited many young girls over to their house where they were drugged and raped repeatedly. These girls all survived the attacks, and had no memory of them. A lot of them were also recorded and held onto by the couple.

Jane Doe was another one of the victims, but unlike the others, she survived. When the fifteen-year-old girl woke up after being drugged, she had no memory of the violent rape. Although Karla later tried to claim that she was Paul’s battered wife, there is a horrifying segment on one of the tapes of Karla grinning maliciously while sexually assaulting Jane Doe.

On April 16, 1992, Paul and Karla came across 15 year old Kristen French. The couple pulled into a church parking lot where Karla pretended they were lost and asked the girl for directions. They then kidnapped the girl and took her back to their house. Her parents reported her missing right away and many witnesses came forward saying that they had seen two people in a cream-colored Camaro pull her into their car and drive away. Her shoe was found at the church, as well as a piece of the map that Karla had, and a lock of brown hair. So cops began quickly looking for this "cream colored Camaro". The problem was that the couple drove a gold Nissan.

Kristen French

Paul and Karla kept Kristen for several days, raping and torturing her while recording the events. They strangled her and disposed of her body. On April 30, 1992, her body was found in a ditch. Her face had been beaten and her head had been shaved.

On January 6, 1993, Karla was admitted to the hospital after Paul beat her with a flash light. He was arrested for assault but got out on bail. Karla never went back to their house. Finally, Paul's DNA was looked at and found to be positively identified as a match for the Scarborough rapist. Now police were finally adding up all the clues to Paul's time frame and were beginning to connect the other murders and assaults to those in St. Catherine's. They reached out to Karla first and she ended up breaking down and telling her parents about most of what she had done. She didn't admit to Tammy's murder at this point though. Her family advised her to get a lawyer.

At first, Karla was uncooperative with the police but after talking to her lawyer, she finally agreed to testify against Paul, but only if she was granted immunity from prosecution. The attorney general denied her that but said the would consider a reduced sentence for her involvement. Karla began to spill her guts. She blamed everything on Paul and played the victim role. She said she was forced to be involved and that she was disgusted by the whole situation. She talked about how Paul had forced her and threatened her that if she ever told, he would kill her too.

Upon searching their home, police found a list of victims of the Scarborough rapes, books about deviant sexual acts, a hunting knife, video tapes of Kayla and Paul raping and torturing two unidentified girls, and handcuffs. It's said that Karla was most definitely a willing participant in the acts.

On July 6, 1993, Karla was convicted after pleading to two counts of manslaughter for the deaths of Leslie and Kristen. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Police didn't know at the time that the initial search of the home had not yet uncovered the biggest piece of evidence- 6 video tapes. Those tapes weren't turned over to authorities until September 22, 1994. Those tapes contained in graphic detail the rape of Karla's sister, Tammy. they also contained the torture and rapes of Leslie and Kristen as well as a tape the couple had titled, "The Fireside Chat".

The Fireside Chat was a video shot inside of Karla's family's home. It started out in the basement and eventually moved into Tammy's bedroom. While in the basement, Karla tells Paul that she liked watching him rape her sister. She goes on to say she wants to leave a rose at her grave. When they move into Tammy's bedroom, Karla dresses up in Tammy's clothes and begins to act like her sister. The couple then proceeded to have sex on her bed.

The videos clearly show that Karla was not scared or forced. The news of these tapes really upset the community and they accused the court of "making a deal with the devil", though the court was obliged to stand by her 10 year sentence. The Ontario court ordered that the video tapes be destroyed. At the time of her sentence, the court didn't know about Karla's involvement in Tammy's death. It was only in March of 1993 that Karla would write a letter to her parents confessing her involvement. Karla was only supposed to serve 10 years, the court added 2 years on for Tammy's death. She was officially sentenced to a 12 year term on July 6, 1993.

The photo that was placed inside of Tammy's casket.

On July 20, 1993, Tammy's body was exhumed. A wedding invitation, some notes, and a photo of Karla and Paul were found inside of her casket. The family asked for those items to be removed before Tammy's reinterment.

The contents of the video tapes should have led to a conviction of murder for Karla, some speculate she even knew where the tapes were hidden. Her facade of being a victim were quickly deteriorating. The public was outraged and Paul himself admitted to every rape, but said Karla was the one to actually commit the murder. In December 2001, it was decided that the tapes could not possibly be used for any future hearings and they were in fact destroyed. The tapes of Karla watching and commenting on the tapes was sealed and remains so to this day.

While in prison, Karla began to take correspondence courses in sociology through Queen's University. She was supposed to pay all of the fees herself, but admitted to receiving some financial help. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in psychology. She was moved from Kingston's Prison for Women to Joliette Institution. Joliette is a medium security prison that critics have called "Club Fed". Karla eventually put in a application to transfer to a halfway house but was denied. She then sued the government.

Karla enjoying a photo op in prison

She began a romantic and sexual affair with Lynda Véronneau. Lynda, who identified as a man and planned to have a sex change operation upon release was serving time for armed robberies. Lynda had reoffended to be sent back to prison with Karla. He said that Karla liked to be tied up and enjoyed playing victim/rapist role play games. This raised a lot of eyebrows as Karla's release date drew near.

Another prison photo op for Karla

Karla lived as much of a luxurious life as possible in prison. She was eventually transferred to a maximum security prison in Quebec where she began another sexual relationship with a convicted murderer named Jean-Paul Gerbet. It was said that they would go up to a fence and strip each other through it and then proceed to touch each other and exchange underwear. During this time, she still continued a long distance relationship with Lynda, who had spent at least $3,000.00 on her at Victoria's Secret. On December 6, 2001, six days before Karla dumped Lynda, she was asked why she continued two separate relationships. Karla replied with, "I don't let go right now because I want my clothes and my computer."

Karla wrote a lot of love notes to her girlfriend in prison

Karla was released after serving her full 12 year sentence under multiple conditions. The public and parents of victims were outraged because they felt that she had gotten nothing but a slap on the wrist and that she still posed a threat to society. A former friend of Karla's was quoted as saying she believes her actions were that of a psycho path, not an abused, controlled woman.

On November 30, 2005, the Superior Court Judge of Quebec, James Brunton lifted all of the restrictions that had been placed on Karla. He said there wasn't enough evidence against her to justify them. Ontario begged the court to take take it to the Supreme Court, but it was denied. Karla tried to have her name changed to Emily Chiara Tremblay, it was denied. In 2007, she had her first child, a baby boy. Several nurses refused to tend to her during labor and delivery. Children's Aid said that regardless of her past, they would not automatically judge her.

Karla and her new husband Thierry Bordalais.

She eventually moved out of Canada so that her one year old son could lead a more normal life and later had two more children. She eventually married her lawyer's brother, Thierry Bordalais. It's said that Karla lived a pretty normal life with her kids up until 2016. Parents began to voice a lot of concern when they found out exactly who was volunteering at the elementary school. Parents wanted her out and away from their kids. the school board said there was no rule against her being there and Karla began to get angry with reporters for trying to speak with her and take her photo.

Karla picking up one of her kids at school where she volunteers.

As of January 2020, it was said that she lived in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield alone. Her husband and children were not living with her.

I really am confused by the whole justice system. We live in a world where people get longer terms for stealing than Karla Homolka got for raping and murdering at least 3 children, including her own sister. These crimes are horrible and unforgiveable. Paul is rotting away in a jail cell the size of a closet and she is free to do pretty much whatever she likes. She lived a nice life in prison. Has had multiple sexual partners, gifts, money, scholastic opportunities. It just doesn't make sense.

When someone is released, it's usually under the impression that they aren't liable to commit any more crime. That being said, everyone involved with the case thinks she will in fact kill again. The tapes left Paul's lawyer in shock saying things like "This wasn't a lady who was subjugated. She was happy, compliant, suggestive, and willing. Nothing on the tapes struck me that she was being dominated or coerced." The court even ruled that she was too big of a risk to re-offend and was denied early release... yet she still was able to volunteer with children after her release? She hasn't even been added to a sex offender list, after at least 4 confirmed rapes against children.

As I am writing this, I came across this:

There is no picture or information, but I personally think Karla is trying to pull a fast one on the world again. We already know she goes by several different names. Check the publisher of the obituary. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Part of a letter from a childhood friend of Kristen French.


About the Creator

Sara Wilson

Lover of the strange and unusual. I write mostly horror or true crime. I occasionally publish other things, but try not to write only for the sake of having content. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated!

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  • Toivo Saks4 months ago

    Thank you Sarah for the work. I'm curious as to whether you have experienced push back or censorship during your investigation. Regardless of the topic I seem to be researching, obfuscation of truth winds up being the headline. I'm from Toronto, and am the same age a Bernardo. I had friends that attended Scarborough College in the same graduating year. The case has become darker as years pass, and it's critical that this satanic mass murderer always be looking over her own shoulder for the rest of her life for utterly destroying countless lives with malice and pure evil.

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