When you hear someone say the word monster the first thing that pops in your mind is Godzilla, the Cu-Cuy, and Dracula. Although those are monsters they are all fiction and used strategically to scare kids into behaving and eating their vegetables. On the other hand the real monsters that you have to look out for are the ones in today’s society that are disguised as angels yet battle with the demons inside of them. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka are modern day monsters that were a match made in hell. Three months after Paul and Karla met a series of brutal rapes began in Scarborough, Toronto, a large suburban area where Paul Bernardo lived. Bernardo was convicted of more than 13 rapes and 6 attempted rapes and 3-4 murders. Bernardo was known as the Scarborough Rapist. The last assault attributed to the Scarborough Rapist occurred in 1990. What made this couple so monstrous was not only would they commit such heinous crimes but they would go so far as to film themselves raping, torturing, and killing young girls. They filmed the girls to keep as a trophy possession of what they had done and relive the crimes on repeat.
Bernardo fantasized and became fixated on Homolka’s baby sister Tammy who was only 15 years old at the time. He would sneak in her bedroom and masturbate while she was asleep. He wanted something from Tammy that his girlfriend, Karla would never be able to give him which was her virginity. On Christmas Eve of 1990 Karla Homolka decided to offer up her baby sisters virginity to Bernardo as a Christmas present because of his obsession with her. Once Karla’s parents went to sleep upstairs they began to drug her by lacing her drink and once she was unconscious they both took turns in raping her in the basement of the family’s home. They kept Tammy unconsious by holding a rag of halothane, an animal tranquilizer to her mouth as they recorded the heinous crime. Karla methodically planned the rape of her baby sister by stealing the tranquilizer from her work, Martindale Veterinarian Clinic. Tammy ended up getting sick while being sedated and choked on her own vomit and died. When the police were called they asked why she had burns on her mouth and face and Homolka and Bernardo claimed it was a rug burn from when they tried to revive her but instead it was the burns of the Halothane. How someone could do such a horrific thing to their baby sister is beyond me. Her own flesh and blood she betrayed and for that it portrays how Homolka had no conscious and felt no remorse. After her sister was pronounced dead weeks later she would pretend to be Tammy and dress in her clothes and tell Paul how much she enjoyed watching him rape Tammy.
As if it wasn’t bad enough they had raped and killed Tammy Bernardo went out to prey on the next girl who was unlucky enough to cross paths with Bernardo. On June 15, 1991, Bernardo drove through Burlington to steal licence plates and noticed Leslie Mahaffy. The fourteen year old had missed her curfew after attending a friend’s wake and was locked out of her house. Bernardo left his car and approached Mahaffy, saying that he wanted to break into a neighbor’s house. Unfazed, she asked if he had any cigarettes. When Bernardo led her to his car he blindfolded her, forced her into the car, drove her to Port Dalhousie and informed Homolka that they had a victim. The couple video taped sodomizing Leslie and abusing her while she remained blind folded and her hands bound. “The next two hours are going to determine what I do to you. Right now, you’re scoring perfect”(Bernardo). Consequently the blind fold fell from Leslie Mahaffy and Bernardo and Homolka felt there was no other option than to kill her because she would then be able to identify them if she was freed. After less than 24 hours of torturing Leslie Mahaffy they strangle, cut up her body, encased the pieces in concrete blocks, and then disposed of it in Lake Gibson. The third victim was Kristen French who they abducted from outside of a church by luring her to their vehicle by asking for directions. They beat Kristen, raped her, strangled her, cut off all her air so she could no longer be identified and threw her in a ditch. These monsters were brutal and had no regards for human life or young women in general.
On the other hand there was a movie called Karla that was based on Karla’s perspective of the terrible crimes committed between her and Paul Bernaardo. In the movie it portrayed Karla just as much of a victim as the other girls. They made it out to be Bernardo that physically abused her and forced her into raping and beating the girls. The movie starts off by her seeing a psychiatrist and telling him that she was forced to help Bernardo or else she would suffer the consequences. He would threaten to kill her and beat her if she did not do exactly what he wanted or how he wanted it. The movie painted the picture that Karla lived in fear of Paul and would testify against him if she was granted immunity from prosecution. The attorney general denied her request but offered a lighter sentence for her cooperation.made a plea deal with authorities to get a lighter sentence if she testified against Paul. Homolka was just as much as a monster as Bernardo by throwing him under the bus to save her own skin. Her jealousy of the girls he would abduct and rape was what ignited the fire inside of her for the monster she held so deep to come raging out. This was the breaking point for her because oall his attention was going to them and he kept Karla on the back burner because she was never going to be enough for him.
Paul Bernardo admitted he was responsible for every sexual assault attributed to him, but he steadfastly maintained Homolka had been the killer; Homolka, of course, pointed the finger at Bernardo, and it isn’t likely we will ever know the truth of the matter. However, to this day Paul Bernardo insists he never killed anyone. And while they are hardly better off, it is worth noting that the 19 victims of the Scarborough Rapist are still alive and not one girl died until Karla Homolka, literally, was in the picture. “Scholars suggest that mass media portrayals of these cases tend to present two images, the serial killer as the monster and the serial killer as celebrity” (Butts). These monsters had no remorse and enjoyed inflicted pain on the girls and even went so far as to make the girls watch the news reports of their families looking for them and waiting for them to return home. By continuously getting away with the abductions and torturing and murders it made the monsters empowered and a sense of being invincible since no one was looking there way. With all this power they had, it fueled the monster inside of each other for the worst. Homolka and Bernardo do not dwell on social difference and don’t necessarily meet the monster theories created by Jeffrey Cohen because they weren’t wired or odd people which made them easier to blend in with society which makes them the worst kind of monsters because they look no different from the rest of society. Although the second thesis “The Monster Always Escapes”, somewhat falls under the category for Paul Bernardo because in the film Karla it is shown that one of his victims he did not kill was able to make a sketch with investigators in the Scarborough rapist case and he was brought in for questioning several times because law enforcement were getting tips it might be him but they had no evidence. “I was as cool as a cucumber”,(Bernardo). He was referring to in the movie how well he was able to lie and put on this facade that he was a happily married man. Each time he was brought in for question he was able to escape and get away with it. Only until his lies were able to catch up with him and he was able to be put away for life without parole and justice was served. Now such a horrible monster will not be able to see the light of day for all the torment the girls went through because of his twisted mind.
Cohen, Jeffrey. Monster Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
According to Jeffrey Cohen all good monsters fall under the seven theses of monster theory. This article helped me compare and see if Karla and Paul meets all of the criterias of a good monster according to Jeffrey Cohen’s monster theories which is does not.
Butts, Edward. “Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka Case.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 21 June 2016, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/paul-bernardo-and-karla-homolka-case.
Karla. Directed by Joel Bender. Performance by Laura Prepon, Misha Collins, Cherilyn Hayres.
This movie helped understand the contrast in the stories and perspectives on how things really occurred. It showed how Karla was seen as a victim and was innocent in all of the crimes which was not the case at all.
Dimanno, Rosie. “A Disturbing Glimpse of Serial Killer and Serial Rapist Paul Bernardo.” TheSpec.com, TheSpec.com, 22 May 2018, http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/8619375-a-disturbing-glimpse-of-serial-killer-and-serial-rapist-paul-bernardo/.
This article was used to gather information on the crimes the monsters Karla and Paul really committed and helped me better understand what was going on at the time.