News Provincial

Bernardo-Homolka case haunts us still

By Brad Hunter, Toronto Sun

On a warm June day in 1991 we confronted horror.

 

Leslie Mahaffy, a 14-year-old Burlington girl, had vanished a week earlier.

That Sunday morning, her remains were found encased in concrete blocks in Lake Gibson, just outside St. Catharines.

Her horrific murder began an odyssey for Canadians that was inextricably linked to two people who touched the very essence of evil — and were thrilled by it.

They were Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.

On the surface, the pair appeared the epitome of a yuppie success. Nice car, nice clothes, cute Cape Cod home in Port Dalhousie.

But the golden duo had shocking secrets. Both were narcissistic sexual deviants.

Their first murder victim was Tammy Homolka, Karla’s 15-year-old younger sister.

Incredibly, the sick pair had discussed at length how they would defile her.

On Christmas Eve, 1990, Karla gave Bernardo her sister as his gift. Tammy was drugged and raped by the duo.

Then, she was dead. But cops and the coroner never caught on that something sinister had happened at the Homolka family home.

As detectives tried to figure out who murdered Leslie Mahaffy, the pair preyed on other teen girls, plying them with booze, then sexually assaulting them.

The girls remembered Bernardo’s car and the fact a blond woman had lured them in.

Bernardo had already been questioned in relation to the notorious Scarborough Rapist case and cops had his DNA, but no one connected the dots.

On April 16, 1992, Kristen French disappeared — just like Leslie Mahaffy. For several days, she was plied with booze and sexually assaulted. Bernardo and Homolka videotaped the whole degrading monstrosity.

Kristen French’s naked body was found in a ditch on April 30.

As cops closed in, the wildly opportunistic Homolka made her move and dropped a dime on Bernardo after he had pummelled her.

The Crown made a deal with Homolka — later called the “Deal with the Devil.” She was sentenced to 12 years for her role as long as she testified against Bernardo.

What she didn’t tell detectives was the existence of videos that showed the full scope of her sinister role in the rapes and murders. By the time they were discovered, the Crown shrugged and said: “Too late.”

Bernardo was sentenced to life in prison and declared a dangerous offender following a trial that consumed the nation. It was repulsive, riveting and ultimately, heartbreaking.

And Homolka? She’s married with three children and living in a Montreal suburb and for all the world, it looks like she got away with it.