- Category : Criminal - Serial Killer
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (5,14,34)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Spirit 2
Paul Kenneth Bernardo, also known as Paul Jason Teale (born 27 August 1964), is a Canadian serial killer and rapist, known for the sexual assaults and murders he committed with his wife Karla Homolka and the serial rapes he committed in Scarborough.
Bernardo was born in Scarborough, Ontario. His mother, Marilyn, was the daughter of a wealthy Toronto lawyer. His father, Kenneth, the son of an English woman and an Italian immigrant who created a highly successful marble and tile business, was abusive towards his wife and children. Instead of entering the family business, Kenneth Bernardo became an accountant. After her father had disapproved of an earlier boyfriend, Marilyn married Kenneth in 1960. Like his father, Kenneth Bernardo was said to be abusive. Marilyn, after having given birth to a son and a daughter, began seeing a former boyfriend. She became pregnant with his child and gave birth to Paul Kenneth Bernardo on August 27, 1964. Kenneth Bernardo tolerated his wife's affair and is listed as the biological father on Paul's birth certificate.
In 1975, Kenneth Bernardo fondled a girl and was charged with child molestation; he also sexually abused his own daughter. Bernardo's mother became depressed over her husband's abuse, withdrew from family life and lived in the basement of their Scarborough home. Though the elder children felt the effects of the emotional and mental turmoil, young Paul appeared to be unscathed by it. In his book Lethal Marriage, Nick Pron describes the young Bernardo: "He was always happy. A young boy who smiled a lot. And he was so cute, with his dimpled good looks and sweet smile, that many of the mothers just wanted to pinch him on the cheek whenever they saw him. He was the perfect child they all wanted: polite, well mannered, doing well in school, so sweet in his Boy Scout uniform."
Following an argument between his parents when Bernardo was 16, his mother told him of his actual parentage. Repulsed, he began openly to call his mother "slob" and "whore".
Bernardo graduated from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute, opting to work for Amway, whose sales culture had a deep effect on him. "He bought the books and tapes of famous motivational get-rich-and-famous experts." Bernardo and his friends practiced their techniques on young women they met in bars, and were fairly successful. By the time Bernardo attended University of Toronto Scarborough, he had developed dark sexual fantasies and enjoyed humiliating women in public and beating up the women he dated.
In October 1987, he met Karla Homolka. They became sexually interested in each other almost immediately. Unlike the other girls he knew, she encouraged his sadistic sexual behaviour, also
"The Scarborough Rapist"
Bernardo committed multiple sexual assaults, escalating in viciousness, in and around Scarborough, Ontario. Most of the assaults were on young women whom he had stalked after they exited buses late in the evening.
Known incidents are:
May 4, 1987, rape, 21-year-old woman, Scarborough, in front of her parents' house, after following her home. The attack lasted more than half an hour.
May 14, 1987, rape, 19-year-old woman in the back yard of her parents' house. This incident lasted over an hour.
July 17, 1987, attempted rape. Although he beat the young woman, he abandoned the attack after she fought back.
September 29, 1987, attempted rape, 15-year-old girl. Bernardo broke into a house in Scarborough and entered the bedroom of the victim. He jumped on her back, put his hand over her mouth, threatened her with a knife, caused a bruise on the side of her face and bit her on the ear. He fled when the victim's mother entered the room and started screaming. Anthony Hanemaayer was initially convicted of the sexual assault but was exonerated after Bernardo confessed to the crime in 2006.
December 16, 1987, rape, 15-year-old girl. This rape lasted about one hour. The following day, Metropolitan Toronto Police issued a warning to women in Scarborough traveling alone at night, especially those taking buses.
December 23, 1987, rape, 17-year-old. During this attack, Bernardo raped the 17-year-old with the knife he used to threaten his victims. It was at this point he began to be referred to as the 'Scarborough Rapist'.
April 18, 1988, Bernardo attacked a 17-year-old. The fifth assault, this one lasted 45 minutes.
May 25, 1988, Bernardo was nearly caught by a uniformed Metro Toronto investigator staking out a bus shelter. The investigator noticed him hiding under a tree and pursued him on foot, but Bernardo escaped.
May 30, 1988, rape, 18-year-old, Mississauga - about 40 kilometres southwest of Scarborough. This attack lasted 30 minutes.
October 4, 1988, attempted rape, Scarborough. His intended victim fought him off but he inflicted two stab wounds to her thigh and buttock which required 12 stitches.
November 16, 1988, rape, 18-year-old in the backyard of her parents' house.
November 17, 1988, Metro Police formed a special task force dedicated to capturing the Scarborough Rapist.
December 27, 1988, attempted rape, an alerted neighbour chased Bernardo off after he had begun his attempted eighth rape.
June 20, 1989, attempted rape, the young woman fought against him and her screams alerted neighbours. Bernardo fled with scratches on his face.
August 15, 1989, rape, 22-year-old woman. He had stalked her the previous night from outside the window of her apartment and waited for her to arrive home. This particularly vicious attack lasted two hours.
November 21, 1989, rape, 15-year-old whom he saw in a bus shelter. This attack lasted 45 minutes.
December 22, 1989, rape, 19-year-old. This attack occurred in a stairwell of an underground parking lot and lasted 30 minutes.
May 26, 1990, rape, 19-year-old. This rape lasted over an hour. His victim's vivid recollection of her attacker permitted police to create a computer composite portrait, which was released two days later by police and published in Toronto and area newspapers.
July 1990, two months after receiving tips that Bernardo fit the Scarborough Rapist composite, he was interviewed by two police detectives.
Investigation and release
Between May and September 1990, the police had submitted more than 130 suspects' samples for DNA testing when they received two reports that the person they were seeking was Paul Bernardo. The first, in June, had been called in by a bank employee. The second call was received from Tina Smirnis, the wife of one of the three Smirnis brothers who were among Bernardo's closest friends. Smirnis told the detectives that Bernardo "had been 'called in' on a previous rape investigation – once in December, 1987 – but he had never been interviewed." He frequently talked about his sex life to Smirnis and liked analingus, rough sex and anal sex.
Smirnis's phrasing was awkward and stilted and consequently left the detectives unsure of whether to take her seriously. But after cross-checking several files the detectives decided to interview Bernardo. The interview, on November 20, 1990, lasted 35 minutes and Bernardo voluntarily gave samples for forensic testing. When the detectives asked Bernardo why he thought he was being investigated for the rapes, he admitted that he did resemble the composite. The detectives concluded that such a well-educated, well-adjusted, congenial young man could not be responsible for the vicious crimes; he "was far more credible than...Smirnis who, with his awkward, strange way of speaking, might just be trying to collect the reward." Bernardo was released the following day.
Following the interview, Bernardo drove to St. Catharines and held a secret meeting with Homolka, assuring her that he was not the Scarborough Rapist.
Bernardo moved permanently to St. Catharines on February 1, 1991. The sexual assaults in Scarborough had stopped. However, on April 6, 1991, Bernardo committed his 12th rape, this one in St. Catharines. Again, the victim was young (14). Unlike the other attacks, this one occurred early in the morning and he was not near a bus stop.
When she still worked at a pet shop (Martindale Animal Clinic, St. Catharines) two years earlier, Homolka had befriended a then 15-year-old girl. On June 7, 1991, Homolka invited the teen, referred to as "Jane Doe" in the ensuing trials, for a "girls' night out." After an evening of shopping and dining, Homolka took "Jane Doe" to 57 Bayview Avenue and began to ply her with alcohol laced with Halcion.
After "Jane Doe" lost consciousness, Homolka called Bernardo to tell him his surprise wedding gift was ready. They undressed the girl, who was a virgin, and Bernardo videotaped Homolka as she raped the girl before Bernardo vaginally and anally penetrated her. The next morning, the teenager was nauseated. She believed her vomiting was due to having drunk alcohol for the first time. She did not realize she had been violated.
She was invited back to Port Dalhousie (a district in northwest St. Catharines, situated on Lake Ontario) in August, this time to "spend the night". In a replay of what had happened to Karla's sister, Tammy Homolka, "Jane Doe," whose identity remains protected by law, stopped breathing after she was drugged and Bernardo had begun to rape her. Homolka called 911 for help but called back a few minutes later to say that "everything is all right." The ambulance was recalled without follow-up.
"Jane Doe" visited the couple once more, on December 22, 1992. This time Homolka pressured her to have sex with Bernardo; she became upset and left.
"Schoolgirl Killer" murders
By 1990, Bernardo was spending large amounts of time with the Homolka family, who liked him. He was engaged to the eldest daughter and flirted constantly with the youngest one. He had not told them that he had lost his job as an accountant, and instead was smuggling cigarettes across the nearby US–Canadian border. He had become obsessed with Tammy Homolka, peeping into her window and entering her room to masturbate while she slept. Karla Homolka helped him by breaking the blinds in her sister's window to allow Bernardo access. In July, Bernardo took Tammy across the border to get beer for a party. While there, Bernardo later told his fiancee, "they got drunk and began making out."
According to Bernardo's testimony at his trial, on July 24, 1990, Karla Homolka laced spaghetti sauce with crushed Valium she had stolen from her employer, Martindale Animal Clinic. She served dinner to her sister, who soon lost consciousness. Bernardo began to rape Tammy while Karla watched.
Over the summer, he supplied Tammy and her friends with gifts, food, and soft drinks that had "a film and a few white flecks on the top."
Six months before their 1991 wedding, Karla Homolka stole the anaesthetic agent Halothane from the clinic. On December 23, 1990, Homolka and Bernardo administered sleeping pills to the 15-year-old in a rum-and-eggnog cocktail. After Tammy was unconscious, Homolka and Bernardo undressed her and Karla applied a Halothane soaked cloth to her sister's nose and mouth.
Karla Homolka wanted to "give Tammy's virginity to Bernardo for Christmas" as, according to Homolka, Bernardo was disappointed not to have been Karla's first sex partner. With Tammy's parents sleeping upstairs, the pair videotaped themselves as they raped her in the basement. Tammy began to vomit. The pair tried to revive her, then called 911, but not before they hid evidence, dressed Tammy, and moved her into her basement bedroom. A few hours later Tammy Homolka was pronounced dead at St. Catharines General Hospital without having regained consciousness.
Despite the pair's behaviour – vacuuming and washing laundry in the middle of the night, and despite the presence of a chemical burn on Tammy's face, Niagara Regional Coroner and the Homolka family accepted the pair's version of events. The official cause of Tammy Homolka's death was accidental – choking on her vomit after consumption of alcohol. The pair subsequently videotaped themselves with Karla wearing Tammy's clothing and pretending to be her. They also moved out of the Homolka house to a rented Port Dalhousie bungalow, to let her parents cope with their grief.
Early in the morning on June 15, 1991, Bernardo took a detour through Burlington, halfway between Toronto and St. Catharines, to steal licence plates. He found Leslie Mahaffy. The 14-year-old had missed her curfew after attending a funeral, was locked out of her house and had been unable to find anyone with whom she could stay overnight. At that time, Bernado left his car and appraised his next victim.
Bernardo approached her and said he wanted to break into a neighbour's house. Unfazed, she asked if he had any cigarettes. As Bernardo led her to his car he blindfolded her, forced her into the vehicle and drove her to Port Dalhousie, where he informed Homolka that they had a playmate. Bernardo and Homolka subsequently videotaped themselves torturing and sexually abusing Mahaffy, all while listening to Bob Marley and David Bowie. At one point, Bernardo said, "You're doing a good job, Leslie, a damned good job." Then he added, "The next two hours are going to determine what I do to you. Right now, you're scoring perfect." On another segment of tape, played at Bernardo's trial, the assault escalated. Mahaffy cried out in pain and begged Bernardo to stop. In the Crown description of the scene, he was sodomizing her while her hands were bound with twine. Later Mahaffy told Bernardo that her blindfold seemed to be slipping, an ominous development as it signaled the possibility that she might be able to identify both her tormentors if permitted to live.
The following day, Bernardo claimed, Homolka fed her a lethal dose of Halcion. Homolka claimed that, instead, Bernardo strangled her. The pair put her body in their basement.
The following day the Homolka family had dinner at the house.
After the Homolkas and their remaining daughter, Lori, had left, Bernardo and Homolka decided the best way to dispose of the evidence would be to dismember Leslie Mahaffy and encase each piece of her remains in cement. Bernardo bought a dozen bags of cement at a hardware store the following day. He kept the receipts which would prove damaging at his trial. Bernardo used his grandfather's circular saw to cut the body. Bernardo and Homolka then made numerous trips to dump the cement blocks in Lake Gibson, 18 kilometers south of Port Dalhousie. At least one of the blocks weighed 90 kg (200 pounds) and proved beyond the pair's patience or abilities to sink. It rested near the shore, where a father and son on a fishing expedition discovered it on June 29, 1991. Leslie Mahaffy's orthodontic appliance proved instrumental in identifying her.
On the afternoon of April 16, 1992, Bernardo and Homolka were driving through St. Catharines to look for potential victims. It was after school hours on the day before Good Friday. Students were still going home but by and large the streets were empty. As they passed Holy Cross Secondary School, a main Catholic high school in the city's north end, they spotted Kristen French, a 15-year-old student, walking briskly to her nearby home. The couple pulled into the parking lot of nearby Grace Lutheran Church and Homolka got out of the car, map in hand, pretending to need assistance.
As French looked at the map, Bernardo attacked from behind, brandishing a knife and forcing her into the front seat of their car. From her back seat, Homolka controlled the girl by pulling down her hair.
French took the same route home every day, taking about 15 minutes to get home in order to attend to her dog's needs. Soon after she should have arrived, her parents became convinced that she had met with foul play and notified police. Within 24 hours, Niagara Regional Police (NRP) had assembled a team and searched the area along her route and found several witnesses who had seen the abduction from different locations, thus giving police a fairly clear picture. In addition, one of Kristen's shoes, recovered from the parking lot, underscored the seriousness of the abduction.
Over the three days of Easter weekend, Bernardo and Homolka videotaped themselves as they tortured, raped and sodomized Kristen French, forcing her to drink large amounts of alcohol and to behave submissively to Bernardo. At Bernardo's trial, Crown prosecutor Ray Houlahan said that Bernardo always intended to kill her because she was never blindfolded and was capable of identifying her captors.
While Bernardo was out buying pizza on April 18 he was spotted by Kerry Patrich (see below), whom he had stalked the previous month. Her report to NRP was mishandled by police, as noted by Judge Archie Campbell in his 1995 inquiry into the police investigation of Bernardo's crimes, thus negating any chance of Kristen French's being discovered at the Bernardo house.
The following day, the couple murdered French before going to the Homolkas' for Easter dinner. Homolka testified at her trial that Bernardo had strangled French for exactly seven minutes while she watched. Bernardo said Homolka beat her with a rubber mallet because she had tried to escape and that French ended up being strangled on a noose tied around her neck secured to a hope chest. Immediately thereafter, Homolka went to fix her hair.
French's nude body was found in a ditch on April 30, 1992 in Burlington, approximately 45 minutes from St. Catharines, and a short distance from the cemetery where Leslie Mahaffy is buried. She had been washed and her hair had been cut off. It was originally thought that the hair was removed as a trophy, but Homolka testified that the hair had been cut to impede identification.
Other potential or possible victims
In addition to the confirmed murders of Tammy Lyn Homolka, Leslie Erin Mahaffy and Kristen Dawn French, suspicions remain about other possible victims or intended victims of Bernardo and/or Homolka.
Shortly after Tammy Homolka's funeral, her parents went out of town, and Lori visited her grandparents in Mississauga, leaving the house empty. On the weekend of January 12, 1991, according to author Stephen Williams, Bernardo abducted a girl, took her to the house and raped her while Homolka watched; afterward he dropped her off on a deserted road near Lake Gibson. Bernardo and Homolka referred to her simply as "January girl."
At about 5:30 a.m. on April 6, 1991, Bernardo abducted a 14-year-old who was warming up for her duties as coxswain on one of the local rowing teams. The girl was distracted by a blonde woman who waved at her from her car, enabling Bernardo to drag her into the shrubbery near the rowing club. There he sexually assaulted her, forced her to remove all her clothes and wait five minutes, during which he disappeared.
On July 28, 1991, Bernardo stalked a 21-year-old after he saw her while driving home from work. On August 9, 1991, he resumed stalking her. This time she took evasive action, stopping at her boyfriend's house just prior to his arrival. After spotting Bernardo, the boyfriend gave chase, came across Bernardo's gold Nissan and took note of the licence plate. The couple reported the incident to Niagara Regional Police, who established that the car belonged to Paul Kenneth Bernardo. A NRP officer visited the Bernardos' house where the car was parked in the driveway, but did not pursue the matter, nor did he submit an official police report.
A newspaper clipping found during the police search of the Bernardo house described a rape that occurred in Hawaii during the couple's honeymoon there. The presence of the article, the rape's similarity to Bernardo's modus operandi and its occurrence during the Bernardo's presence led police to speculate on Bernardo's involvement. Law enforcement officials on both sides of the border have stated their belief that Bernardo was responsible for this rape, but due to extradition issues, this case was never prosecuted.
In 1997, Derek Finkle's book No Claim to Mercy was published, which presented evidence tying Bernardo to the murder of Elizabeth Bain, who disappeared on June 19, 1990, only three weeks after the last known attack of the Scarborough Rapist. Bain told her mother she was going to "check the tennis schedule" on the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto. Three days later, her car was found with a large bloodstain in the back seat. Robert Baltovich, who has consistently maintained his innocence, was convicted on March 31, 1992, of second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend. At trial, his lawyers suggested that the then-unidentified "Scarborough rapist" was responsible for the crime. He served eight years of a life term before being released pending his appeal. In September 2004 his appeal was processed. His lawyers alleged that he had been wrongfully convicted and that Bernardo was guilty of the murder. On December 2, 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal set aside the conviction. On July 15, 2005, Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney-General announced that Robert Baltovich would face a new trial and on April 22, 2008, after a series of pretrial motions including the presentation of evidence implicating Bernardo in the murder of Elizabeth Bain, Crown Attorney Philip Kotanen advised the court that he would be calling "no evidence" and asked the jury to find Baltovich not guilty of second-degree murder.
On March 29, 1992, Bernardo stalked and videotaped two sisters from his car and followed them to their parents' house. The sisters incorrectly recorded his licence plate number. One sister reported the incident to NRP on March 31, 1992 and was given an incident number should further information develop. With Kristen French under Homolka's guard on April 18, 1992, Bernardo went out to buy dinner and rent a movie. He was spotted by one of the sisters, who attempted to track him to his house. Despite losing him, she got a better description of his licence plate and car, which she reported to NRP. This information, however, was mishandled by police and slipped into the "black hole" to which Judge Archie Campbell would refer in the Campbell Report of 1996, an inquiry into police mishandling of evidence in the case.
In 2006, Bernardo confessed to a 1987 assault against a 15-year-old girl. Another man, Anthony Hanemaayer, had been convicted of that assault and served the sentence for it. On June 25, 2008, the Court of Appeal for Ontario overturned that conviction and exonerated Hanemaayer.
Homolka and Bernardo had been questioned by police several times – in connection with the Scarborough Rapist investigation, Tammy Lyn Homolka's death, Bernardo's stalking of other women – before the death of Kristen French. The officer filed a report, and on 12 May 1992, an NRP sergeant and constable interviewed Bernardo briefly. The officers decided that he was an unlikely suspect, although Bernardo admitted having been questioned in connection with the Scarborough rapes.
Three days later, the Green Ribbon Task Force was created to investigate the murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. Meanwhile the couple applied to have their names changed legally from Bernardo and Homolka to Teale, which Bernardo had taken from the villain of the 1988 movie Criminal Law – a serial killer. At the end of May, John Motile, an acquaintance of Smirnis and Bernardo, also reported Bernardo as a possible murder suspect.
In December 1992, the Centre of Forensic Sciences finally began testing DNA samples provided by Bernardo two years earlier.
On 27 December 1992, Bernardo severely beat Homolka with a flashlight on the limbs, head and face. Claiming that she had been in an automobile accident, the severely bruised Homolka returned to work on 4 January 1993. Her skeptical co-workers called Homolka's parents, who assumed they were 'rescuing' her the following day by physically removing her from the house. Homolka went back in, frantically searching for something. Her parents took her to St. Catharines General Hospital, where her injuries were documented, and she gave a statement to NRP claiming she had been a battered spouse and filed charges against Bernardo. He was arrested but later released on his own recognizance. A friend who found Bernardo's suicide note intervened. Homolka moved in with relatives in Brampton.
Twenty-six months after the sample had been submitted, Toronto police were informed that Bernardo's DNA matched that of the Scarborough Rapist and immediately placed him under 24-hour surveillance.
Metro Toronto Sexual Assault Squad investigators interviewed Homolka on 9 February 1993. Despite telling her their suspicions about Bernardo, Homolka concentrated on his abuse of her. Later that night she told her aunt and uncle that her husband was the Scarborough Rapist, that they were involved in the rapes and murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, and that the rapes were recorded on video tape. NRP, meanwhile, re-opened the investigation into Tammy Homolka's death.
On 11 February 1993, Homolka met with Niagara Falls lawyer George Walker who sought full immunity from St Catharines's Crown Attorney Ray Houlahan in exchange for her cooperation. Homolka was placed under 24-hour surveillance.
The couple's name change was approved 13 February 1993. The next day George Walker met with Murray Segal, Director of the Crown Criminal Law Office. Walker told Segal of videotapes of the rapes and Segal advised Walker that, considering Homolka's involvement in the crimes, full immunity was not a possibility.
Metro Sexual Assault Squad and Green Ribbon Task Force detectives arrested Bernardo on numerous charges on 17 February 1993, and obtained search warrants. Because Bernardo's link to the murders was weak, however, the warrant contained limitations. No evidence that was not expected and documented in the warrant was permitted to be removed from the premises. All video tapes the police found had to be viewed in the house. Damage to the house had to be kept to a minimum; police could not tear down walls looking for the videotapes. The search of the house, including updated warrants, lasted 71 days and the only tape found by the police had a short segment depicting Homolka performing oral sex on "Jane Doe".
On 5 May 1993, Walker was informed that the government was offering Homolka a 12-year sentence plea bargain that she had one week to accept. If she declined, the government would charge her with two counts of first degree murder, one count of second degree murder and other crimes. Walker accepted the offer and Homolka later agreed to it. On 14 May 1993, the plea agreement between Homolka and the Crown was finalized, and she began giving her induced statements to police investigators.
Citing the need to protect Bernardo's right to a fair trial, a publication ban was imposed on Homolka's preliminary inquiry.
The Crown had applied for the ban imposed on 5 July 1993, by Mr. Justice Francis Kovacs of the Ontario Court (General Division). Homolka, through her lawyers, supported the ban, whereas Bernardo's lawyers argued that he would be prejudiced by the ban since Homolka previously had been portrayed as his victim. Four media outlets and one author also opposed the application. Some lawyers argued that rumours could be doing more damage to the future trial process than the publication of the actual evidence.
Public access to the Internet effectively nullified the court's order, however; as did proximity to the American border, since a publication ban by an Ontario Court cannot apply in New York, Michigan, or anywhere else outside of Ontario. American journalists cited the First Amendment in editorials and published details of Homolka's testimony, which were widely distributed by many "electronic ban-breakers", primarily on the alt.fan.karla-homolka Usenet newsgroup. Information and rumours spread across a myriad of electronic networks available to anyone with a computer and a modem in Canada. Moreover, many of the Internet rumours went beyond the known details of the case. Newsweek's 6 December 1993 edition, for example, "reprinted without permission" as the correspondent stated, reported: "Another account said that, to keep them from escaping, both girls were hobble by their abductors, who used veterinary surgical instruments to sever tendons in their legs."
Newspapers in Buffalo, Detroit, Washington, New York and even Britain, together with border radio and television stations, reported details gleaned from sources at Homolka's trial. The syndicated series A Current Affair aired two programs on the crimes. Canadians bootlegged copies of The Buffalo Evening News across the border, prompting orders to NRP to arrest all those with more than one copy at the border. Extra copies were confiscated. Copies of other newspapers, including The New York Times, were either turned back at the border or were not accepted by distributors in Ontario. Gordon Domm, a retired police officer who defied the publication ban by distributing details from the foreign media, was charged and convicted on two counts of contempt of court.
Trial, conviction, and incarceration
Bernardo's trial for the murders of French and Mahaffy took place in 1995, and included detailed testimony from Homolka and videotapes of the rapes. The trial was subject to a publication ban which applied to Canadian newspapers and media, and the venue was moved to Toronto from St. Catharines, where the murders occurred. However, the ban did not affect American newspapers and television stations from nearby Buffalo, New York from reporting trial proceedings, which were easily seen in Southern Ontario. During the trial, Bernardo claimed the deaths were accidental, and later claimed that his wife was the actual killer. On September 1, 1995, Bernardo was convicted of a number of offences, including the two first-degree murders and two aggravated sexual assaults, and sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years. Bernardo was also declared a "Dangerous Offender", making it unlikely he will ever be released.
In return for a plea bargain (12 years in prison for manslaughter), Homolka testified against Bernardo in his murder trial. This plea bargain received much public criticism from Canadians as Bernardo's first defence lawyer Ken Murray had withheld for 17 months videotapes that Bernardo made. This was considered crucial evidence, and prosecutors said that they would have never agreed to the plea bargain if they had seen the tapes. Murray was later charged with obstruction of justice, of which he was acquitted, and he also faced a disciplinary hearing from the Law Society of Upper Canada.
During her interrogation in 1993, Homolka told police Bernardo once bragged to her that he had raped as many as 30 women, twice the number of assaults police suspected he had committed. She described him as "the happy rapist."
Bernardo has been kept in the segregation unit at the penitentiary for his own safety; nonetheless, he has been attacked and harassed. Once he was punched in the face by another inmate while returning from a shower in 1996. In June 1999, five convicts tried to storm the segregation range where Bernardo lived, and a riot squad had to use gas to disperse them.
The Toronto Star reported on February 21, 2006, that Bernardo had admitted having sexually assaulted at least 10 other women in attacks not previously attributed to him. The majority of those assaults took place in 1986, a year before what police termed the reign of terror by the Scarborough Rapist. Authorities suspected Bernardo was the culprit in other crimes, such as a string of rapes in Amherst, N.Y., and the drowning death of Terri Anderson in St. Catharines. He has never acknowledged his involvement. It was reported that Bernardo's lawyer, Anthony G. Bryant, had forwarded this information to legal authorities the previous November.
In 2006, Bernardo gave an interview in prison suggesting he had reformed and would make a good parole candidate. He was not eligible for release in 2010 under the "faint hope" clause, since he was convicted of multiple murders. Bernardo is not eligible to apply for parole until July 2020. In September 2013, Bernardo was moved from Kingston Penitentiary, owing to its impending closure, to Millhaven Institution in Bath., and continues to be incarcerated in the segregation unit. He spends 23 hours a day in a 2.5-by-3-metre prison cell. On April 19, 2012, it was announced that the Kingston Penitentiary, as well as the Leclerc prison near Montreal would close.
Homolka was released from prison on July 4, 2005. Several days before, Bernardo was interviewed by police and his lawyer, Tony Bryant. According to Bryant, Bernardo claimed that he had always intended to free the girls he and Homolka kidnapped. However, once Mahaffy's blindfold fell off, allowing Mahaffy to see Bernardo's face, Homolka was concerned that Mahaffy would identify Bernardo and subsequently report them to the police. Further, Bernardo claimed that Homolka planned to murder Mahaffy by injecting an air bubble into her bloodstream, eventually causing an embolism.
In popular culture
In 1997, Lynn Crosbie, Canadian poet, novelist and cultural critic, published Paul's Case, termed a "theoretical fiction". After systematically analyzing the couple's crimes it provided an examination of the cultural effects of the shocking revelations and controversy surrounding their trial.
Episodes of Law & Order ("Fools for Love", season 10), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ("Damaged", season 4) and Close to Home ("Truly, Madly, Deeply", season 2) were inspired by the case, as well as an episode of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries titled "Know Thine Enemy", aired in 2007. Under the Canadian publication ban on details of the crimes that was in force at the time, "Fools for Love" could not be shown on Canadian television when it aired on February 23, 2000. The second episode of the series The Mentalist featured a respectable but murderous husband and wife team.
Dark Heart, Iron Hand is a documentary broadcast by MSNBC and was rebroadcast as an episode of the series MSNBC Investigates retitled "To Love and To Kill" concerned the case.
The episode "Bittersweet" in season 12 of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation mirrors the murders of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. A murderous couple is caught and tried for the murders and dismemberment of young girls. The woman claims spousal abuse to exonerate herself and strike a deal. It is only after the deal is struck that videotaped evidence proves she participated fully. The episode aired on Thursday, October 6, 2011.
The premiere episode of Wicked Attraction, a television show which focuses on couples who commit heinous crimes, focuses on Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. The episode, entitled "The Perfect Couple" first aired on August 7, 2008.
In 2004, producers from Quantum Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production company, announced the release of the movie Karla (with the working title Deadly), starring Laura Prepon as Homolka and Misha Collins as Bernardo. Since the announcement of the movie, Tim Danson – the lawyer for the families of French and Mahaffy – was given a private screening of the film, and following this, announced that the families had no objection to the film being released. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called for a boycott on the film. The film was released in Canada by Christal Films in the major markets of Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax.