A Match Made In Hell | Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka | Partners In Crime Series (Fourth Instalment) Graphic Content

 (Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka. Picture credit: The Star)

I always like getting feedback and messages from my readers whether it be about a particular case that they have some thoughts on or they have a case that they would like me to write about. In the past I tried to stay away from writing about infamous cases but over time I have come to realise that some people want to hear it from my perspective and tell it in my way so in this series you will have noticed that the cases are well known but it is interesting to really look into them, research them deeply and find out details that I didn't know or maybe you didn't know before. 

Speaking of infamous cases, it was only a matter of time before I wrote about this couple that you see in the picture above. I've lost count of how many times I have been asked to cover this case but for my fourth instalment of my Partners In Crime series, we will be delving into the shocking story of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka (otherwise known as 'The Ken & Barbie Killers' amongst other names). 

As stated in the title of this post, graphic details will be shared as we move through the story so please be aware of this. 

I guess I will begin with Paul Bernardo because there is a lot to unpack with him. Paul was born Paul Kenneth Bernardo on the 7th of August 1964 in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. As with a lot of these types of individuals who go on to commit sexual crimes, the red flags were clearly there from day one. He didn't have a particularly close relationship with his mother who wasn't really maternal and his father was bad news. As well as being a violent man, Paul's father had a habit of spying on women in the neighbourhood, sneaking creepy glances as they undressed in their bedrooms. He was what is known as a 'Peeping Tom', standing in someone's back yard as he pleasured himself whilst watching them through their windows without their knowledge. His parents didn't sleep in the same bed so this added to further confusion for Paul who was trying to cope with living under an emotionally cold and strict household as it was. 

Despite the issues at home, Paul was seen as a bright child at school, a well behaved, good looking child who other parents often thought very fondly of because of his polite manner. He was a smart kid, sharp as a tack and could pick things up quite easily. Trouble is, the nice little boy act was just a performance, a sign of his ability to use his cutesy, manipulate ways to charm people and get around them. As he got older he gained more confidence, maybe too much confidence because he started to think that he was better than everyone else and would take delight in bullying other children. He enjoyed making fun of other children's clothes or looks. As he got into his teenage years this attitude towards people only got worse and he became very arrogant and cocky. He was clever though on who he would choose as his target to tease and bully whilst keeping up the sweet boy act in front of other people. 

(Karla Homolka & Paul Bernardo as children. Picture credit: Murderpedia)

When he got to 16 things at home continued to be a nightmare only this time the arguments were mostly between himself and his mother who delighted in telling him one day out of the blue that he wasn't his father's biological son. This enraged him despite the fact he didn't have the closest of relationships with his father. It made him question who he was, it confused him, made him feel like his whole life had been a lie and he held his mother fully responsible for this. He hated her and would refer to her as a 'whore'. So Paul already had this background of bullying children and enjoying making people's lives hell at school and now this had developed into being abusive towards his own mother and a hatred for women. 

There was no rational reason for him to have such hatred towards his mother and females in general, he was quite popular with girls, it wasn't like he had been rejected and couldn't find a girlfriend. In fact, he had that many girlfriends and that many dates that he became even more unbearable with his narcissism and self adoration. He realised that he got sexually aroused by hurting the girls that he dated. He would be Mr Prince charming at first but this would quickly change and he'd be physically and verbally abusive, needless to say, these relationships never lasted for very long. 

Because he had done so well academically at school and had such confidence in himself, it was no surprise that he ended up at University to study Accountancy and he did really well, passing with flying colours. This would have been enough for some people, a chance at a real go at life in a well paid job but for Paul it was not enough. 

He had the job, the money, the car, the house and the attention from women but he wasn't satisfied. When it came to having sexual intercourse, there would be a lot of times where he would have difficulties maintaining an erection. The only way he could achieve orgasm and be able to perform would be if his partner would say certain things to him whilst they had sex such as ''You're incredible.'', Your co** is amazing.'', ''You're the best lover I've ever had.'' etc whilst he would say the complete opposite to them, whilst forcefully holding them down or handcuffing them and calling them all kinds of disrespectful things. Basically, the only way he could get himself off was to pretend that he was raping his girlfriends. 

None of his partners enjoyed what he tried to pass off as 'role play'. The sex seemed to be all about him, he didn't care about their pleasure and he caused them a great deal of pain. He still wasn't happy and his urges were not being fulfilled, he fantasied about abducting a woman off of the street, preferably a beautiful young woman who he could overpower and have under his complete control. He enjoyed the idea of her being terrified of him and doing whatever he said. The fantasies were not enough, he wanted to do it for real, he felt an urge and couldn't stop himself. 

Instead of being horrified at these fantasies and constant urge to rape women and seeking professional help, Paul became a predator who stalked the streets of Scarborough, Ontario and would pounce on any unsuspecting female who took his fancy. In my research the police originally thought that Paul had started carrying out his sickening sexual crimes around 1987 but he later confessed (in 2006) to a string of rapes that took place in 1986 that were not originally attributed to him. There's even a suspicion that he could be connected to a sexual assault that took place in 1984. It would be sickening to know that Paul had raped one woman let alone the numerous women and girls that he actually did attack. It's impossible to know exactly how many young women were attacked by him, there's the ones we know about, the ones that he further confessed to in 2006 and then there's the ones who've never been identified. He was a serial rapist and the more he attacked women and girls, the more violent he got. Experts working on the case at the time warned the police that they would have to hurry up and catch this guy because there was only one way this was going to go and that was murder. 

Paul would stalk and attack young girls in front of their houses at night if he saw one walking home from a night out. He would rape girls in the backyard of their houses and would threaten to kill them if they dare make a sound. On another occasion he broke into a girl's bedroom and tried to attack a girl but luckily her mother heard the commotion and came to her daughter's aid causing Paul to flee the scene. On this particular incident due to an error, a young man by the name of Anthony Hanemaayer was falsely accused of the attempted attack and had actually spent time in prison. The man spent years trying to clear his name, even after he was released. Paul finally admitted in 2006 that this man was completely innocent of this crime and that it was him that was there that night. 

The more attacks that occurred, the more violent Paul became, it seemed to be that the more he had managed to get away without being caught, the more bolder he became. The police now had a huge investigation on their hands looking for a serial rapist and the public and media were on tenterhooks wondering when this monster was going to strike next. He was called 'The Scarborough Rapist' and the name stuck. With the attacks becoming more violent, Paul enjoyed further torturing his victims by forcing objects and materials inside them after he raped them. He would insert stones, leaves, sticks, anything he could find to just cause as much pain and discomfort to his victims as much as possible. One girl even suffered stab wounds to her thighs and buttocks and needed stitches. Paul started to become careless in his attacks, he would always come up behind his victims and it would be very dark so it was difficult to make any proper identification. One of the girls did see his face clearly though and was able to work with an artist to complete a sketch which was the complete double of Paul Bernardo. 

Another frustrating detail about this case which will drive you mad as it drove me mad, was that quite a number of men had DNA samples taken and Paul Bernardo was one of those men. The cops commented how much he looked like The Scarborough Rapist but because Paul came across as such a nice, friendly and cooperative guy who was a well dressed accountant, they didn't look deeper into it. In fact, Paul's DNA sample sat on a shelf for two years and wasn't even examined. This was a huge error, a catastrophic error on the part of the investigators. I couldn't believe it when I first read about all of the mistakes that were made during the investigation and in particular, this one. If that DNA sample had been tested, they would have had Paul Bernardo behind bars and the streets of Scarborough would have been a bit safer and it would have prevented the further nightmare that was to come. 

Paul must have felt invincible at this point, he always had a high opinion of himself and here he was, walking around free without a care in the world after causing so much devastation to so many lives and getting away with it. To have sat there in the police station with what looks like a portrait drawing of himself, his DNA on a shelf and nobody is bothering to chase any of it up just because he is such a good actor and able to fool people. It's utterly shocking!

So fast forward on to more hell, so Paul is at a convention in a hotel and he spots a pretty young blonde girl sitting having a coffee. He was 23 and she was 17 and they both later claimed that it was love at first sight. There was an instant attraction between the pair of them. The girl's name was Karla Homolka and she had a job at a local veterinarian. Apparently within two hours of meeting, they were in one of the rooms having sex. Karla was just Paul's type, young, pretty and naive and Paul was Karla's ideal man because he was handsome, had a great job and a car. The pair were inseparable from that day on. 

Karla Leanne Homolka was born on the 4th of May 1970 to quite an ordinary background. There were no traumatic events or anything that stood out in her childhood other than her fascination with the paranormal, Ouija boards and death. She went through a goth phase of wearing black clothes and lipstick, for a small town this was seen as a big deal (I know what that's like) and quite odd. One disturbing detail about Karla's fascination with death was her strange behaviour surrounding the death of a friends' pet. The animal had been buried in the back yard and Karla begged her friend to dig up the grave so that she could look at how decomposed the animal was. Very strange behaviour but could also be just a high case of morbid curiosity. She was the eldest of three girls and her younger sisters pretty much looked up to her. All three girls had been blessed with lovely blonde hair and pretty features so they were known as the all Canadian type of girls. Karla did well at school and was very popular with boys. She always described herself as an animal lover and had her heart fixated on becoming a veterinarian and was over the moon when she landed a role at her local animal clinic. She had a great relationship with her parents and sisters and she was obsessed with all things Disney. 

When Karla met Paul she believed him to be her Prince Charming. Even though she was only 17 she was brought up with the belief that she would marry a professional type of man who had money, a house, a car etc and that she would be a stay at home wife and mother taking care of the children. She was very much into old fashioned traditions. On the whole, despite the odd curiosity with death, Karla seemed to be a pretty straight forward person on the surface but when she met Paul Bernardo, he awakened something in her. 

Paul showered her with expensive gifts and fancy dinners at restaurants, she couldn't believe her luck but like all things with Paul Bernardo, there was a price to be paid and that was the sexual side of the relationship becoming more daring, more violent and more perverse. 

Not satisfied with just having some rough sex involving some handcuffs, some whips and maybe some ice cubes, these were low-key for Paul Bernardo, he wanted everything to the extreme and beyond. He was never concerned about Karla's pleasure, he would pretend to rape her and say all of the horrible things that he had previously said to his victims. Karla claimed to have enjoyed this and actively participated in all of it, she wanted to do anything that she could to make him happy and she would do anything for him, no matter what is was. 

Away from the sexual side of things, Karla's family worshipped Paul too, they'd have him around at the house all of the time for dinner, he could do no wrong in their eyes. Karla's sister Tammy was the double of her and only 15 years old but she looked up to her big sister and her boyfriend. The disturbing thing is, whilst Tammy looked at Paul as a brother, he had other ideas. 

Paul continued to shower Karla with gifts and telling her how beautiful she was, romancing her at every turn to the point that she couldn't get enough of it and then he told her that he wanted something. He told her that he wanted to sleep with her 15 year old sister and take her virginity. A normal person would have slapped his face and thrown him out of the house but not Karla Homolka who was only concerned that her Mr money bags would do a disappearing act if she didn't let him get his way. Karla didn't want the gifts, the dates at the restaurants, the attention and the status of dating a handsome accountant to stop. It's hard for any of us with brain cells and human decency to imagine someone being so materialistic, so self-centred and so callous as to basically offer their baby sister up to a sadistic pervert like she was a piece of meat, but that's exactly what she did and she didn't care an ounce about it. 

(Karla Homolka & Paul Bernardo. Chillingly a photograph of Tammy sits in the background. Picture credit: Medium)

Creepy Paul Bernardo would sneak into Tammy's bedroom at night and masturbate as he watched her sleep, all with Karla's blessing. She even helped loosen some of the screws on the window in Tammy's bedroom to make it easier for him to sneak in and carry out his disgusting acts whilst the child slept. Then the Peeping Tom act wasn't enough, he wanted to go further and he expressed this clearly to Karla. He told her that he wanted to drug Tammy so that he could do whatever he wanted to her, sexually. Shockingly, Karla agreed and the pair hatched a plan to lace Tammy's dinner with a sedative Karla had taken from the veterinary. On this occasion they waited until Tammy had passed out and when Paul was in the middle of molesting the girl, she suddenly woke up. They both realised that they needed something stronger. 

It was the Christmas holidays and on the 23rd of December 1990 the Homolko family were celebrating some time together and Paul was there, being treated as part of the family. What nobody knew or could even think of, was that Karla and Paul had put together another horrible plan for Tammy and it was going to take place that very night when everyone else went to bed. Drinks were flowing and everyone was feeling merry, when nobody was looking, Karla slipped some ground up sleeping pills into Tammy's drink and the evil pair waited for it to take effect. When everyone else went to bed, the pair stayed downstairs with Tammy and when she was completely passed out they took her to the basement and Paul had set up a video camera. Paul had been recording his and Karla's sex sessions and wanted to record this sick rape fantasy, come to life. It is believed that Paul had started recording Karla and their future sickening acts because he wanted to, not only relive the horrible events but to have something to hold over Karla as blackmail later on if she ever tried to leave him or go to the police. 

As the camera recorded, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka removed Tammy's clothes and proceeded to molest her. It's utterly horrendous to write but Karla actively did things to her own sister. It was monstrous. In the middle of everything, Tammy suddenly began convulsing and vomit began to pour out of her mouth. The evil pair began to panic, scrambling about the place trying to put their clothes on and put Tammy's clothes on. There was vomit everywhere and they tried to clean everything up and hid the tape before finally calling for help. Tammy sadly passed away and both of them lied through their teeth and told everyone that Tammy just had a bit too much to drink and had tragically choked on her own vomit. This version of events was believed and nothing else was said on the matter, they'd gotten away with it. 

Instead of grieving for her sister (although they did put an act on in front of family members) Karla would dress up in Tammy's clothes during one of their sick sex sessions and try an reenact the scene to the way that Paul originally wanted it to go. 

Despite the horrific death of Tammy, this didn't seem to phase Karla or give her the motivation to confess all to her family and get away from him. She was so wrapped up in him even after all of that, that when her pet Iguana accidentally bit him, he cruelly decapitated the poor creature and forced her to cook and eat it in front of him to prove her loyalty to him. She did as he asked with no question or protest. 

A few months went by after Tammy's death and everyone but those two monsters, were still devastated and struggling to come to terms with things. When they had the funeral, the pair gave the performance of a lifetime as the grieving duo, they had no shame. But because a few months had gone past, they had this heartless attitude that everyone should stop crying and talking about Tammy now and move on to more important things....like their wedding. That's all Karla was interested in, her big, fake fairytale wedding to dirty, paedophile and murdering pervert, Paul Bernardo. 

I don't think that Paul cared about the wedding to be quite honest, he didn't care about anything but he had to keep Karla sweet, she was his perfect slave and he wanted to keep it that way. In her, he had found his partner in crime and she would do anything for him and he enjoyed that. They managed to manipulate the family to going along with this wedding and just six months after they raped and killed Tammy, they smiled for the cameras as they posed in front of the church. 

(Karla Homolka & Paul Bernardo. Picture credit: Nzherald)

The death of Tammy at their hands didn't stop there, leading up to the wedding day and afterwards, they abducted and murdered two girls plus the rape of another girl who managed to survive but was classed as a ''Jane Doe'' was later discovered on one of the videotapes. Before they were married, Paul abducted a 14 year old girl, Leslie Mahaffy, who he'd discovered had been locked out of her family home late at night after attending the wake of a friend who had recently died. Leslie had been having a difficult time with her parents and she also was a bit of a rebel. For some strange reason (and it's scary to even think about or understand) her parents were not happy about her being out so late at this friend's wake and so decided that because she had missed the curfew they locked the front door and refused to let her back into the house to teach her a lesson apparently. Absolute madness to leave a 14 year old child locked out of the house at that time of night.

The unimaginable happened and because of Leslie's parents ridiculous actions (sorry, I have to speak my mind here) Leslie was basically a sitting duck for evil Paul Bernardo. Paul abducted Leslie in front of her own house and blindfolded her. When he took her back to Karla the sick pair tortured and molested the poor girl whilst videotaping the whole ordeal. They had music on the whole time this was taking place, songs by David Bowie and Bob Marley were blaring out of the speakers whilst Leslie was spending the last moments of her young life going through hell. Once they were finished with Leslie they murdered her. Both of them later blamed each other for the killing with Karla claiming that Paul strangled Leslie, and him claiming that Karla had given her some sort of medication that caused her death. Leslie's body was placed in the basement and they talked about what they were going to do next with her remains. They come up with the idea of dismembering her and placing the remains in cement so that they would be weighted down when they dumped them in the lake. Paul went to a hardware store and bought sacks of cement and other products, he kept all of the receipts and these receipts were used against him later at his trial. 

He used his grandfather's circular saw and dismembered Leslie's body. Once he was finished he took the remains to a place called Lake Gibson where he disposed of them. 

In between the murders Paul carried out some sexual attacks but the victims survived. They had abducted a girl shortly after Tammy's funeral and took her back to the house where they raped and videotaped the poor girl before driving her to the middle of nowhere and dropping her off. She was known as 'January Girl'. On another occasion, one morning, Paul had dragged a woman into some bushes and was in the middle of assaulting her when she had managed to get away. 

Their last known victim was 15 year old Kristen French who they abducted on the 16th of April 1992. Karla pretended that she needed help with some directions and they managed to get her into the car before driving off. They grabbed her so quickly that her shoe came off and this was discovered when her family and the police came looking for her. Kristen was held by the evil pair for much longer than the other victims, they raped, tortured and videotaped her all of the Easter weekend before finally murdering her and leaving her body in the house before going off to Easter Sunday dinner with Karla's family. Again, the pair accused one another of the murder with Paul claiming that Karla had beaten Kristen with a mallet and Karla claiming that Paul had strangled her. 

Kristen's nude body was dumped in a ditch in Burlington where she was discovered on the 30th of April 1992. 

(Leslie Mahaffy, Kristen French, Tammy Homolka. Picture credit: Filmdaily)

As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of serious mistakes made in the investigation of this case, both with The Scarborough Rapist case and this one which, at the time was called 'The Schoolgirl Killer' case. In December of 1992 investigators finally took the sample of Paul Bernardo's DNA (which had been sat on the shelf for two years) and tested it, the truth was revealed and he was finally identified as The Scarborough Rapist. Things between Karla and Paul were getting really toxic at this time and they began to turn on each other. Maybe Paul had a suspicion that the net was closing in on him and he began to panic? who knows but for whatever reason, the pair got into a very violent fight and Paul physically beat Karla with a flashlight. She was all swollen and her eyes were all blackened. When she went into work, her colleagues were shocked and concerned, she told them that her injuries were the result of a car accident but they didn't believe her and contacted Karla's parents. 

Karla's parent's went over to the house the next day and staged an intervention believing Karla to be a victim of Domestic Abuse and in danger. Paul wasn't there at the time but the police were looking for him. Karla was acting very strange and seemed to be in a panic looking for something but whatever it was, she wasn't able to find it and basically left with her parents. What Karla was actually looking for was those videotapes that Paul had recorded of her and the victims, she knew that those would be her downfall but he had hidden them somewhere. 

Paul had actually hidden the tapes in a light fixture in the bathroom ceiling and nobody thought to look there. Paul was finally arrested and confessed and Karla was later arrested. Both tried to blame the other and at that point, nobody but them knew about the tapes. The police had partially searched the house, it was only later that Paul told his lawyer at that time (Ken Murray) about the existence of the tapes and where he had hidden them. Committing a crime himself, Ken went to the house and got the tapes and hid them for 17 months. Whilst Karla and Paul were in custody, Karla and her lawyer were trying to make a deal for immunity if she testified against Paul, because of a piece of footage that they did manage to find in the house, which showed Karla performing oral sex on an unknown victim, they wouldn't make that deal. Instead they agreed to a deal of 12 years imprisonment for her full cooperation in their case against Paul who they were looking to get for the murders and the series of rapes. Later on when the videotapes were finally turned over to investigators showing Karla's full involvement in the crimes, it was too late to break the deal and there was public outcry. They said if they had known about the tapes they would never have agreed to that deal. 

So Karla was given 12 years and Paul was given a life sentence with the chance of parole after 25 years but he has been turned down twice for that. He is deemed as a dangerous individual who should never be released and he has spent the majority of his sentence in solitary confinement for his own safety after he had had various attempted attacks on him in prison. He confessed to 10 more sexual attacks that took place in 1986 that he wasn't suspected of which meant that he had started his sickening spree much earlier than the police had originally thought. 

Surprisingly, he wrote a book and self published it on Amazon called 'AMAD: World Order' which was a violent 631 page book. It actually sold quite a few copies but Amazon removed it from sale. 

Paul's dodgy lawyer, Ken Murray was later acquitted and basically let off with hiding those videotapes for 17 months which helped secure Karla getting that deal. If those tapes had been handed in to evidence, Karla Homolka would still be behind bars today.

Paul Bernardo is still in prison and deservedly so, I agree that he should never be released. As for Karla Homolka or whatever she is calling herself these days, she walked out of the prison gates in 2005 and having divorced Paul previously whilst she was in prison, she walked into a cosy new life with her lawyer's brother and promptly married him and had two children.

What I find quite interesting is that a Judge in Canada ruled that Karla was not to have any protection when she left prison, meaning that she had to keep her name and identity, the state were not going to give her any protection against the press or the public. In this country (England, UK) infamous murderers have been given new names, houses, employment, money, security and practically everything to start a new life when they leave prison. None of us are happy about it and if it was up to the British public, I think they would make the same rule as the Canadian Judge did in this case. 

Karla still lives in Canada, Quebec to be exact and has been spotted many times out and about in public. She did some voluntary work at her daughters school and the press and public found out about it and all hell broke loose. People don't want her near their children and the sad thing about it is, her own daughters are going to suffer from this because everyone knows who their mother is. 

Canada has it's good stories and bad stories, there's horrible crimes committed there as there is anywhere else in the world but in this case, these two people, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka are two individuals that shocked Canada to it's core and nobody has forgotten what they did and they believe (and I agree with them) that justice was not served in the situation with Karla Homolka.

Paul Bernardo was and is a monster but Karla Homolka is just as evil and what she did to her own sister who she was supposed to love and protect....I just can't understand that and I never will. 

On a side note: Paul Bernardo scored 35 out of 40 in the Psychopathy Checklist which is a psychological assessment tool which is used to measure the extent of psychopathy in an individual. It's not surprising that Paul scored high. Karla underwent the same assessment and scored 5 out of 40

Further Reading & Sources:

Lethal Marriage | Book by Nick Pron

The Anatomy of Evil | Book by Michael H. Stone

Paul Bernardo | Murderpedia

The Big Book of Serial Killers | Book by Jack Rosewood & Rebecca Lo

Paul Bernardo | Wikipedia

The Ken & Barbie Killers: Documentary | Born To Kill

Karla Homolka | Crime Museum

Karla Homolka: Article | Daily Mail

Karla Homolka: Article | The Sun

The Ken & Barbie Killers: Article | The Independent

RIP to the known victims of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka:

Tammy Homolka

Leslie Mahaffy

Kristen French 

Thinking also of the possible unknown victims and the countless survivors of the horrendous attacks that they endured, I hope the survivors have somehow been able to move on with their lives. 

I know this was another difficult case to get through but as always, I appreciate that you have taken the time to read my work. 

I hope you will join me again next week for my fifth instalment in my Partners In Crime series. 

If you enjoy my weekly content, please consider donating to my work here!!, thank you. 

Hopefully I will see you on my Socials in the meantime.

Stay safe x


  1. Thank you so much for your masterful “Partners in crime” series.

    Jo, as I was reading your fourth instalment, I’ve been discovering a lot of things that I wasn’t aware about the case.

    Brilliant work Jo. Gruesome, shocking, interesting, and obviously one of the most disturbing case I have ever read. I knew the case but there is so many new information that I’ve learn.

    In Canada, these two evil monsters are well known for the wrong reasons.

    I hope that Paul Bernardo will stay in prison for the rest of his life. I don’t think that he will ever get release. As for Karla, it’s such a shame that she is free to do what she want. She should have be in prison for life, just as Bernardo.

    RIP to all the victims of this monstrous couple.

    Thank you so much for your series Jo, it's masterpiece.

    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to read the post and comment x