The following are the first 3 chapters from the book “Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka: The Horrific True Story Behind Canada’s Ken and Barbie Killers”
Quick note from the Author
The following is a true story based on facts garnered from official documents, police reports, trial transcripts, interviews, conversations, and other sources. It is a disturbing story and the author has made the decision to withhold some details; such as the more graphic descriptions of the rapes and sexual assaults on the underage victims.
The author attempts, as always, to present the truth, while showing respect to victims and families.
Some passages are creative interpretations used by the author based on known facts, and will be followed by (CI).
Paul loves Tammy
Tammy loves Paul
Mrs. Paul Bernardo
Tammy had a crush.
She sighed deeply as she scrawled in a notebook in large, loopy handwriting favored by crushing, teenage girls. The radio in her bedroom played a love ballad as she daydreamed about her oldest sister, Karla’s, boyfriend. She really liked Paul. She knew he liked her, too. He had told her.
Maybe she should have felt guilty about the stolen kisses the two had shared, but she couldn’t bring herself to. She loved Karla, but she could be a real pain. Always flaunting her looks, her boyfriend, anything she thought might make her baby sister jealous, and most of the time, it worked. Not this time though.
Tammy could still see Karla’s angry face and hear her ear-piercing screeches when she and Paul had shown up several hours after leaving to go on a beer run. Karla cursed at Tammy while Tammy had inwardly smiled to herself. It had felt amazing that her big sister was actually jealous of her, for once. And no wonder, Paul was a great catch.
Tall and blond, he had a great job, and a rad sports car. During their outing, in between chugging beers and making out, Paul had told Tammy how much more beautiful and desirable he found her. She did not need to bleach her naturally fair locks, and her body was much firmer and toned. Next to her, Karla was a fat old cow.
Karla still thought they would be married one day, but there was nothing to worry about, he assured Tammy. She belonged to him and he planned on having her forever. As she looked out the window of her bedroom, watching for the first glimpse of his car pulling into the driveway, she knew she would do anything for Paul. She loved Paul so much, she could just die. (CI)
The snow drifted down slowly. It was to be a white Christmas; nothing unusual for St. Catherine’s, Ontario. It was the night before Christmas Eve, 1990, and festivities were in full swing in a suburban home a few miles from Niagara Falls. Upstairs in the split level house, a mother, father, and their middle daughter slept, perhaps while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
Earlier, everyone had gathered to partake in spiked eggnog and other mixed drinks. Unbeknownst to parents Karel and Dorothy, their eldest daughter, Karla, had added about 50mg of the prescription sedative Halcion to drinks she had prepared for her youngest sister, Tammy. Her middle sister, Lori, noticed that Tammy seemed a bit buzzed and told Karla to stop giving Tammy alcohol. Upset that she was being ignored, Lori went to bed, followed shortly after by her parents.
Tammy, beginning to feel the effects of the combination of sedatives and alcohol, went upstairs to grab a bite to eat. She hoped the food would sober her up a bit. She did not want to fall asleep and miss the movie Karla had rented. It turned out it would not be the movie rental that was the showcase of the evening. It would be the movie made starring Tammy, and all that occurred during and after which changed so many lives forever, and ended the life of one person.
Downstairs in the den, fifteen-year-old Tammy Homolka continued partying with her older sister, Karla, and Karla’s boyfriend, Paul. Tammy and Karla’s parents were not prudish when it came to their children drinking. Even if they were not around to personally supervise things, they felt Karla and Paul could be trusted to take care of Tammy, and as long as they were drinking at home, their parents reasoned, they were safe. That night in 1990, nothing could be further from the truth.
Born in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada, on January 1, 1976, the youngest of three girls, Tammy was a bubbly blond, whose large doe eyes gleamed through a fringe of platinum bangs. ‘Tow headed,’ is what old-timers used to call children with hair like Tammy’s so blond it was almost white. Tammy excelled at sports and had a trim, fit physique that any girl, even her sister, Karla, would kill to have.
Paul would flirt with Tammy, teasing her that she pretended not to know the effect she had on him. Tammy giggled as Paul wrapped her in his arms and kissed her on the cheek. Karla was not amused in the least. She loved her sister, but she loved Paul more and seethed with anger that her little sister had something Paul wanted that Karla could never give him. Tammy was still a virgin, and Tammy’s virginity was what Karla planned on giving her boyfriend for Christmas.
Karla had attempted to present her boyfriend with that gift before, but her plan had been derailed when Tammy woke suddenly from the Valium Karla had mixed in her spaghetti. Karla, who worked at a veterinary clinic, had stolen some of the sedative and drugged Tammy. After eating the spiked food, Tammy had passed out and Paul had begun undressing her, and preparing to rape her when she suddenly regained consciousness. Infuriated, Paul stormed from the room, while a confused Tammy was coaxed by her sister to disrobe and go to bed. She must have been extremely tired, said Karla, since she practically fell asleep eating dinner.
Confused but unquestioning, Tammy took her older sister’s advice. Moving as if she were in a daze and her limbs feeling heavy and limp like a ragdoll, Tammy managed to remove her clothes and crawl under her thick comforter. As she passed out once again into dreamless unconsciousness, she had no idea someone was watching her. Paul Bernardo stood over her sleeping body and masturbated. It was not as satisfying as the rape he had planned earlier, but it would have to do until he got another opportunity.
December 23, 1990, was the chance Paul had been waiting for. A few weeks earlier he had taken Tammy on a beer run, which had ended up taking several hours. He had admitted to Karla that he had used the opportunity to make out with Tammy, but did not dare to take it any farther than kissing and heavy petting. Besides, it was rape, not consensual sex that gave Paul his kicks. He wanted Tammy desperately, now more than ever after their make out session, but he craved the physical brutality and control raping someone gave him.
Paul had waited, biding his time, often resorting to standing outside Tammy’s window and masturbating as she changed clothes. Tonight was going to be different, however. Tonight, he would possess Tammy physically. With Karla’s help, Paul would take what he desired.
Logs popped and crackled in the downstairs den’s large fireplace. Tammy was consuming a far greater amount of alcohol than either Paul or Karla. Karla kept refreshing her sister’s drink and Tammy, feeling mature and happy to be included in activities with two adults who were treating her as a peer, kept drinking, not wanting the fun to end.
Soon Tammy was getting sleepy and having a difficult time keeping her eyes open. The room listed and began to spin as a wave of nausea swept over the teen. Karla, playing nursemaid, comforted her younger sister and reassured her that she would feel much better after a nap. She and Paul would not ditch her, Karla said. They would stay with Tammy the entire time.
That is exactly what the couple did. As Tammy passed out from the alcohol she had consumed, Karla got the next part of the plan ready. She had once again used her job at the veterinary clinic to obtain a drug she hoped would keep her sister unconscious until Paul could complete the act this time.
At work, Karla had seen the effects of a drug called Halothane; used as an anesthetic for surgical procedures. Halothane’s sedative effects were closely monitored in the clinic, however, where supplemental oxygen would be used, as well as a flow meter to measure the amount of Halothane given. Patients given Halothane are often intubated; meaning a tube is inserted orally to keep the airway patent. Karla knew the dangers of the drug being used in a non-clinical setting and the increased sedative effects when combined with alcohol.
Paul grabbed his video camera, a different one from the one he had been using earlier to tape the entire Homolka family as they drank eggnog and kidded around. Focusing the lens on Tammy, Paul instructed Karla to help him undress Tammy. The couple took turns raping Tammy, and it would all be caught on film.
Karla held the Halothane-soaked cloth tightly to Tammy’s nose and mouth, fearful of Tammy regaining consciousness; like their previous attempt. Instead of regaining consciousness, Tammy began to vomit, sending Paul and Karla into a panic. Further adding to the frantic situation, Tammy choked on her own vomit, aspirated, and stopped breathing.
In a flurry of activity, the couple quickly cleaned Tammy up and dressed her before calling for an ambulance. So great was their panic that instead of simply turning the den light on so they could see better, they dragged Tammy into Karla’s room. Paul made a half-hearted attempt at CPR, but the little time they had before medical technicians arrived was devoted to hiding evidence and cleaning up the scene. The blanket Tammy had vomited on was thrown in the washing machine, and the bottles of Halothane and Halcion stashed out of sight.
Tammy’s parents did not even realize anything was amiss until the emergency lights and sirens alerted them. As medics attempted resuscitative measures, Karla assured her parents Tammy was looking better and appeared to be regaining her color. Karel and Dorothy followed the ambulance to the hospital, while Karla, Lori, and Paul stayed behind to answer questions. Tammy would never regain consciousness and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The couple’s story, that Tammy had become intoxicated and began vomiting from the alcohol, before losing consciousness, was suspicious, but accepted by both the family and medical staff. Despite having a chemical burn that covered the side of her face, Tammy’s death was chalked up to being just a terrible accident. The medical examiner reasoned that the burn could have been caused by gastric juices Tammy expelled while vomiting. Karla said she thought it was a carpet burn Tammy received when she and Paul attempted to drag her body into a position in which they would be able to perform CPR once they realized she was no longer breathing.
Looking back, as with most extended criminal investigations, there were so many mix-ups and missed opportunities. Opportunities for the authorities to catch the perpetrators and prevent some of the future carnage that resulted from a pair of rapists and killers running loose on the streets. The Canadian government, law enforcement particularly, has been judged harshly for decisions that resulted in a frustratingly prolonged investigation in which inaccurate eyewitness testimony was relied on too heavily, while DNA that could have identified the guilty party remained untested for over two years.
The dozens of victims of the sex crimes Paul Bernardo committed, whether alone, or as he alleges, in conjunction with Karla Homolka, might have been spared the assaults they were to suffer. Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French might still be alive with families of their own. If the crimes had been stopped with that committed against Tammy Lyn Homolka, how different would things have turned out for everyone involved? How much pain and loss could others have been spared?
It is difficult to fathom that Paul Bernardo, who would eventually be linked via DNA to the Scarborough sex crimes, was pulled in and questioned regarding the assaults on more than one occasion. Bernardo even joked with law enforcement that he could also see a resemblance between himself and a sketch of the rapist created from victims descriptions. It seemed to be just a part of his sick game — a game with deadly consequences.
Tammy was laid to rest on December 27, 1990, only a few days short of her sixteenth birthday. The funeral home had done its best to cover the large reddish-purple burn on her cheek, for it was to be an open casket service. Karla kept stroking her sister’s hair, and she and Paul both kissed Tammy’s cold lips, telling her how much they loved her. Not until more deaths occurred involving Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, would the trinkets the couple had placed in the casket be found.
When Tammy’s body was exhumed, it was noted that Karla had placed a necklace around Tammy’s neck; the same necklace she had been wearing in the video of Karla and Paul raping Tammy. On the necklace was a gold ring belonging to Bernardo. They had also placed photos of themselves, and an invitation to their wedding. When the authorities passed this news on to Karel and Dorothy, they asked that the items not be returned to the coffin before Tammy was once again returned to her resting place.
Paul Loses It
Paul had anticipated that Christmas 1990 would be the best of his entire life. He couldn’t recall any happy childhood memories revolving around Christmas. Karla was the one person he had spoken openly with regarding how miserable his upbringing had been. His mother was a constant source of embarrassment for him, and he hated her for blurting out the news that he had been the product of an extramarital affair.
Karla had planned so meticulously how she would obtain her Christmas gift of Tammy for Paul. She had begun researching prescription sedatives and decided that the drug Halcion would be the safest to administer. Using her youth and her looks, she had visited male physicians, who she found sympathetic to her complaints of insomnia and was able to obtain multiple prescriptions.
When Tammy died, Paul blamed Karla for her death. Karla should have known the correct dosage of Halcion, she should not have held the Halothane-soaked rag directly to Tammy’s face, especially for the length of time that she did. In effect, Paul fell apart psychologically and was well on his way to either a nervous breakdown or suicide.
Not only was he staring at pictures of Tammy all the time and crying uncontrollably, but he was doing so in the presence of other people. He told his friends he did not want to live without Tammy. His alcohol and drug use escalated after Tammy’s death, and Karla watched her boyfriend unravel with mixed emotions.
On the one hand, if he died; from an accidental overdose or by suicide, then Karla would be free to move on, something the teenager was good at. Snagging Paul Bernardo and having him propose to her had been a rush at the time, proof she was capable of getting anyone to do anything. But the fact of the matter was, she did not love him. Well, she loved him, but she did not “love him, love him.”
In addition to gaining her freedom, Karla would also garner even more sympathy from people after having just lost Tammy. That sympathy represented power to Karla; when people fawned all over her and her poor-pitiful-me act, they were ripe for manipulation. Karla could play the victim to the hilt; she had been doing it her whole life to perfect the part.
Karla was excellent at stepping back and seeing all the options laid out in front of her and anticipating other people’s next move before they were even aware of what they were about to do. Paul keeping trophies, things that had belonged to Tammy, was understandable to Karla. She had read plenty of true crime books and knew that was a common trait. Keeping the clothes Tammy had worn that fateful night were one thing, but the last cereal box she had eaten from? That was taking things too far.
What if Paul anticipated the police one day figuring out the true cause of Tammy’s death? Karla wondered, could he be laying the groundwork for an insanity defense? Certainly the way he would beat his head with his fists repeatedly while he wailed and cried to their friends about how much he loved and missed Tammy made him seem insane.
Paul had not only entrusted the secrets of his sad home life with Karla and the fantasies he had of abduction and rape, he had also told her about rapes he had committed before and during their relationship. Karla had tried convincing Paul that her planning and helping carry out possible future abductions and rapes would be the wise thing to do. Karla was so sure of her propensity to pull off the perfect crime, she believed her involvement would keep them out of prison.
It has been thought by some people in hindsight, that, although part of Karla’s argument for being involved was telling Paul this would bring them even closer, she had no desire to salvage the dwindling relationship. Karla enjoyed calling the shots, the excitement of planning crimes, the thrill of feeling she was intellectually superior to others, that she could outsmart not only potential victims, but also law enforcement.
Karla Takes Control
Paul still was not one hundred percent on board with turning over control to Karla. He did not relish the thought of having to share every experience with someone else either. Although he would let her plan some events, such as the Kristen French abduction they would go on to commit together, sometimes Paul wanted the stalking and raping all to himself.
Paul was also an opportunist, however, and was happy to rape a woman with little time or effort expended hunting her down. Especially if she had insulted or snubbed him. More so if he was intoxicated and she turned away his advances in front of his friends.
Such was the situation one night after Paul and Karla had moved into their pink abode, where they would go on to murder Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. The couple had invited friends over for the usual debauchery — drinking and drugging ‘til the wee hours. Paul’s friend had brought along the girl he was dating and her best friend. Both girls were seventeen at the time.
Paul started out attempting to charm the girl, but as the alcohol and pills he had taken began to take effect, he became more belligerent and difficult to deal with. Only years later would Paul’s friend and his girlfriend tell authorities what had occurred that night. No one had confronted Paul or Karla about what had taken place.
The seventeen-year-old, after rebuffing Paul, had made her way to a downstairs bathroom. While she was using the bathroom, Paul had pushed his way in. There, in the bathroom, he had raped the girl as she pleaded for help and begged him to stop. Paul was way too mad to stop. After the assault, the girl told the couple with whom she had gone to the Bernardo-Homolka residence what had taken place.
No one confronted Paul or called police. No one even called a cab to ferry the brutalized girl to a hospital, since everyone was too bombed to drive her anywhere themselves. Instead, they spent a sleepless night inside the same house, where she had been raped with the rapist passed out a few yards away. In the morning they all sat around the kitchen table eating fast food, no one daring to speak of the events of the previous night.
Clearly, in Karla’s thinking, Paul had enjoyed himself that night and they knew they could count on those involved to keep their mouths shut, but it was yet another example of Paul’s recklessness and risk-taking. She had instructed Paul to carry pantyhose in his glovebox and use them as a mask when the urge to rape struck him. Paul complied with placing them in his car, but he never used them to disguise his appearance, merely to bind the victims.
He also never used a condom; even though Karla pointed out the stupidity of his non-compliance with this particular request of hers. While he had been raping her sister, Tammy, Karla had been afraid he might impregnate the teen and that was something even she couldn’t explain away. She was not worried about him impregnating the strangers he assaulted, though, instead she was concerned with the possibility he might leave DNA behind. Paul didn’t share her concern. He was convinced he was careful about not leaving clues behind, and that if the police hadn’t nabbed him for the crimes so far, they never would.
So certain was he in his own invincibility and the fallibility of the still relatively new science of using DNA to catch criminals that when authorities questioned him about a series of rapes, he consented willingly to their request for DNA sample. Paul Bernardo felt like one of the legendary Untouchables. Since none of the Canadian cops he encountered seemed to have the mental fortitude of the late great Elliot Ness, Bernardo had no worries.
A precaution Bernardo did occasionally take was wiping down surfaces to erase any fingerprints he might have left. It occurred to him that a better solution was not leaving fingerprints in the first place. Karla had been trying to think up gift ideas for Paul, when ironically, he came up with the idea to request the same item of clothing that would help clear O.J. Simpson of murder charges during his criminal trial: a pair of black Isotoner gloves.
Maybe Karla should have gifted herself a pair. After the abduction of Kristen French, police found a torn portion of the map used by Karla in her ruse to get Kristen away from the busy street by standing in a church parking lot where Bernardo was parked and inquiring about directions. Investigators dusted the scrap of paper for fingerprints they later identified as belonging to Karla.
For all her belief she was a criminal mastermind, Karla made one of the simplest errors possible. Now authorities knew that the year plus they had devoted to searching for the two white men in a cream colored Camaro, that witnesses said were involved in the abduction was an unforgivable mistake and a waste of precious time they would never get back.
It was a mistake among many law enforcement made that would never be forgotten.