An attractive couple from Canada seemed like a normal couple from the outside looking in. They shared an affinity for animals, and were both liked by their friends and loved ones.
What everyone did not know, however, was that the two kept hidden a deep dark secret that would only come to light years later. Their actions impacted the families of many as the two became a media sensation.
Karla was born in May 1970, to her parents Dorothy and Karel in Ontario. She was the eldest child of three. Her childhood was normal, and she was loved by friends and family who surrounded her.
Karla was a popular girl in high school. She began to develop a deep love for animals. Once she was finished with high school, she began to work for a veterinary clinic close to her house. Karla appeared to be on a normal path. However, she was hiding a dark secret…
When Karla was only 17 years old, she attended a pet convention in the city of Toronto. Here, she met a man named Paul Bernardo. Paul was an attractive young man, with blonde hair and the personality of a charmer.
The first day they met, things escalated quickly. They had sexual intercourse on the first night they met, and they quickly discovered they had a lot more in common than they initially suspected. Karla and Paul both shared sadomasochistic desires. Paul took over the role of master, while Karla obliged to being his slave.
Karla became obsessed with fulfilling every want and need of her partner, Paul. Their relationship strengthened as they fed off of each other’s obsessions. Paul began raping hordes of women, all approved by Karla.
Bernardo was getting away with rape after rape. Police and the media nicknamed him the Scarborough Rapist. He was known for waiting for women to get off of buses, attacking them, and forcing them to endure brutal rape, violence, and humiliation…
Bernardo constantly complained to Karla about the fact that she was not a virgin when they met. Karla was bothered by how much this upset him, and wanted to do what she could to ‘make it right.’ She knew of his obsession with her younger sister and thought up a plan.
Karla stole tranquilizing drugs from the vet clinic where she worked. At a family Christmas party held at Karla’s parent’s house, both Paul and Karla were waiting for everyone to go to sleep, and took her younger sister, Tammy, into the basement. They held a cloth covered in the drug over her face until she became unconscious.
The two began to rape her violently. In the middle of what they were doing, Tammy began to choke on her own vomit. This lead to her death almost instantly. When police came to investigate, they ruled Tammy’s death an accident, and the drugs in her system went completely undetected.
Karla and Paul moved on to their next victim. They targeted a 17-year-old named Jane. They invited her over for dinner, drugged her, and proceeded to violently rape her. When Jane woke up, she was sore, but had no idea of what had just happened…
On June 15, 1991, Bernardo kidnapped a woman named Leslie Mahaffey. He brought her back to their home where he and Karla drugged and raped her over the course of a few days. The sick pair videotaped the encounter. When they were done with her, they cut her body into pieces and put them in cement before throwing the cement into the lake. On June 29th, a couple on the lake found the body parts.
On June 29th, not only were body parts found, but Karla and Paul also wed. They had an elaborate wedding where the two rode in on a horse drawn carriage, and where the guests were served an elaborate meal.
Evidence was building over time, and would help police capture Bernardo. A witness helped a sketch artist draw the suspect, and a coworker of Bernardo phoned police and let them know he looked quite a bit like the suspect. They collected a saliva swab and in 1993, a match was finally made.
Karla became aware that Bernardo was going to be arrested soon. She confided in her uncle about all of the crimes committed, and quickly got a lawyer. Karla began working with police to testify against Bernardo and secure herself a lighter sentence. They secured a 12-year prison sentence with the possibility of parole after three years…
Bernardo was charged with counts of rape and murder and given a life sentence. In court, Karla played the abused wife, and never admitted to enjoying every moment of their life together. A lawyer of Bernardo later provided the courts with a video made by the couple which showed Karla happily abusing victims. However, the deal had already been made and she could not be retried.
On May 30, 2017, Karla Homolka was released from prison. She had completed her 12-year prison sentence. Many believed this was an extremely light for the terrifying crimes she was involved in. She was now free to start a new life.
Ken Bernardo, Paul’s father, told reporters how difficult it is being the father of an infamous killer. He does, however, know that it is much more difficult for the families of those who lost their children. Everyone who was touched by these horrors, had their lives changed forever.
Ken has always felt that his son took the blame for everything in its entirety. He was quoted saying, “As far as I am concerned, Karla has got away with it and is free but that is a whole other story.” Ken is extremely bothered by the fact that Karla is now free, living on an island in Guadalupe with a new husband and children.
Ken Bernardo has reported that his son receives death threats daily. While in prison, he is locked in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, with an hour a day dedicated to yard time. This is for his own safety, as prison can be an extremely dangerous place.
The prison where Paul has resided for all these years has been shut down, and Paul has been moved. He is now at Millhaven Penitentiary, where he will fulfill his life sentence. His father states that he and his family will continue to visit Paul from time to time, something that he will not take for granted.