Bernardo/Homolka timeline
CBC News Online | July 5, 2005

The release of Karla Homolka from prison has served to reignite a public fury that's been simmering just below the surface for as long as the whole story's been known. Her "deal with the devil" - 12 years in prison in return for testifying against husband Paul Bernardo - caused an outcry when the true scope of her involvement in murder became clear: not a helpless, manipulated victim, as it turned out, but a willing and enthusiastic participant in some appalling acts.

The nature of the murders, the videotapes, the fact that an attractive, seemingly normal young couple were responsible for causing so much pain - the story riveted our attention, even as we were repelled by its details. There were books, TV specials, a movie and too many front pages to count. And now, the story gets new life because she is out of prison after serving her 12-year sentence.

The questions linger. Is she still a danger? Where is she going to live? Will the media be able to report on her whereabouts? Will she be hounded for her crimes or be able to live a seemingly normal life?

For the public, and especially for the families of her victims, there's likely to be little satisfaction from learning any of the answers.

Paul Bernardo
May 1987:
A young woman is raped in Scarborough, Ont., the first in a chain of rapes committed by the person the media dubs the Scarborough Rapist. Paul Bernardo would later admit to the sexual assaults of at least 14 women in southern Ontario. At one point, Bernardo faced 53 charges related to the rape and in some cases, murder of young women.

Oct. 17, 1987:
Karla Homolka, 17, meets Paul Bernardo, 23, at a hotel restaurant in Scarborough, Ont. They have sex in their hotel room two hours later.

Dec. 24, 1989:
Bernardo and Homolka are engaged.

Bernardo loses his job at accounting firm Price-Waterhouse. He would later turn to cigarette smuggling to make money.

July 1990:
According to Bernardo's testimony, he and Karla Homolka serve her younger sister, Tammy, a spaghetti dinner spiked with Valium stolen from Karla's workplace. Bernardo rapes Tammy for about a minute before she starts to wake up.

Nov. 20, 1990:
Bernardo provides hair, blood and saliva samples to Metro Toronto police as part of their Scarborough Rapist investigation.

Karla Homolka
Dec. 23, 1990:
After a Homolka family Christmas party, Bernardo and Karla Homolka drug Tammy Homolka with animal tranquilizers Karla stole from her work. Bernardo and Karla Homolka rape Tammy while she's unconscious. Tammy later chokes on her own vomit and dies. Bernardo tells police he tried to revive her, but failed, and her death is ruled an accident.

mid-January 1991:
Bernardo picks up a young female hitchhiker, brings her back to the Homolka home and rapes her in Karla Homolka's bedroom. He drops her off on a back street.

Feb. 1, 1991:
Bernardo and Homolka move into a rented house in St. Catharines, Ont.

June 14, 1991:
Bernardo kidnaps 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy from outside her house. With Homolka, he rapes and murders her.

June 29, 1991:
Bernardo and Homolka are married in a lavish ceremony. Mahaffy's dismembered body is found encased in concrete in Lake Gibson near St. Catharines.

April 16, 1992:
Bernardo, with the assistance of Homolka, kidnaps Kristen French from a church parking lot. After raping, torturing and killing her, they leave her body naked in a ditch, her hair cut off.

April 30, 1992:
French's body is found.

December 1992:
The Centre of Forensic Sciences begins DNA testing of the samples Bernardo provided in 1990.

January 1993:
After Bernardo beats Homolka with a flashlight, leaving her with two black eyes, she leaves their home and files charges against him.

Feb. 17, 1993:
Bernardo is arrested. An inquiry into the Bernardo case would later find that officers in charge violated Bernardo's charter rights by not allowing him to call a lawyer despite his repeated requests, making his initial eight-hour interrogation inadmissible as evidence.

Feb. 19, 1993:
A search warrant is executed in the Bernardo home. During the 71-day search of the St. Catharines house that follows, police fail to find videotapes containing the recordings of the rapes of Mahaffy, French, Tammy Homolka and at least one other girl.

May 6, 1993:
Ken Murray, Bernardo's lawyer, gains access to Bernardo's home. Murray retrieves the videotapes from above a ceiling light fixture in the upstairs bathroom. He would keep the videos in his possession for 16 months.

May 1993:
The plea agreement between Crown prosecutors and Homolka's lawyers is finalized.

June 28, 1993:
Homolka's trial begins.

July 1993:
Homolka pleads guilty to two counts of manslaughter and receives a 12-year jail sentence. Her pleas and the statement of facts agreed to by her lawyer and the Crown are both covered by a publication ban ordered by the judge to ensure a fair trial for Bernardo.

September 1994:
Ken Murray quits as Bernardo's lawyer and hands Bernardo's videotapes over to his successor, John Rosen. Rosen turns the videos over to police later in the month.

May 18, 1995:
Bernardo's trial begins.

June 29, 1995:
Homolka testifies against Bernardo.

Sept. 1, 1995:
Bernardo is found guilty of all nine charges against him, including two counts of first-degree murder for killing French and Mahaffy.

Sept. 15, 1995:
Bernardo is sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 25 years.

November 1995:
Bernardo is declared a dangerous offender, meaning he will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.

April 1996:
An Ontario Court judge rules that videotapes showing the rape and torture of Bernardo's victims must be destroyed when they are no longer needed for legal purposes.

July 1996:
A six-month-long inquiry into the police investigation of Bernardo concludes that the investigation was hampered by dozens of mistakes by individual officers and by rivalries between different police departments. The inquiry concludes that some of Bernardo's crimes could have been prevented if Bernardo's DNA samples had been processed more quickly.

January 1997:
Ken Murray is charged with obstruction of justice and possession of child pornography for failing to turn over the Bernardo tapes.

Summer 1997:
Homolka is transferred to Joliette Institution in Quebec when the Kingston Prison for Women is closed.

March 2000:
The Ontario Court of Appeal dismisses Bernardo's request for a new trial.
CBC STORY: Bernardo appeal dismissed

June 2000:
Murray is acquitted of charges arising from his failure to turn over the Bernardo tapes.
CBC STORY: Court finds Bernardo lawyer not guilty

Sept. 21, 2000:
The Supreme Court of Canada denies Bernardo's leave to appeal his murder convictions.
CBC STORY: Bernardo appeal rejected

Oct. 9, 2000:
Homolka is transferred to a maximum-security prison in Saskatoon for a psychiatric examination. Homolka's lawyers attempt to block the move, saying her life would be in danger if she were removed from the prison in Joliette.
CBC STORY: Homolka transferred to maximum-security facility
CBC STORY: Homolka's arrival irks inmates

Nov. 30. 2000:
Crown prosecutors drop charges against author Stephen Williams. The charges alleged that Williams broke a court order by watching the Bernardo tapes. The Crown said it didn't want to air the tapes again in court, so the judge dismissed the charges.
CBC STORY: Prosecutors drop charge against Bernardo author

January 2001:
Homolka is transferred to a Montreal psychiatric hospital to undergo treatment.
CBC STORY: Homolka on her way to Quebec: report

March 2001:
The National Parole Board denies Homolka's application for early release, saying she is a risk to kill again.
CBC STORY: Karla Homolka denied statutory release

December 2001:
The six videotapes depicting the rape and torture of Bernardo and Homolka's victims are destroyed.
CBC STORY: Tapes made by Bernardo destroyed

March 2002:
The National Parole Board rules that Homolka is still a risk to society and will not be granted early release.
CBC STORY: Homolka refused early release

Nov. 13, 2002:
A book on Homolka written by Stephen Williams is published in French, containing excerpts from letters between the author and Homolka. Questions arise over whether the book violates a condition of Homolka's plea bargain, which states that she would not "talk directly or indirectly to the media for a book or live endeavour." Williams says he didn't speak to Homolka about the crimes, so the argument is moot.
CBC STORY: Questions over controversial Homolka book

February 2003:
The English language version of Williams' book, and Karla: A Pact with the Devil, appears on bookstore shelves.
CBC STORY: Families lash out at Homolka book

May 4, 2003:
Author Stephen Williams is arrested and charged with violating a court order barring publication of courtroom exhibits used in the Bernardo and Homolka trials. Williams had used his website to show a collection of photographs, videotapes and police interviews from the cases.
CBC STORY: Homolka author arrested over Internet content

October 2003:
Ontario Provincial Police lay 94 new charges against Stephen Williams related to his books Invisible Darkness and Karla: A Pact with the Devil.
CBC STORY: Bernardo author faces new charges

May 2004:
Williams wins a grant from Human Rights Watch, an organization that supports victims of political persecution, to help defer his legal costs. The award places Canada alongside countries such as Myanmar, Peru and Sierra Leone.
CBC STORY: Canadians awarded persecuted-writer prizes

Dec. 16, 2004:
The National Parole Board rules that Homolka must stay in prison for her full term, ending July 5, 2005.
CBC STORY: Parole Board keeps Karla Homolka behind bars for 7 more months

Jan. 14, 2005:
Stephen Williams, author of two books on Bernardo and Homolka, pleads guilty to breaking a publication ban by posting the names of the couple's sexual assault victims on his website. He receives a three-year suspended sentence and is ordered to do 70 hours of community service.
CBC STORY: Bernardo author pleads guilty to breaching publication ban

April 11, 2005:
Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant says all provinces should place restrictions on Karla Homolka's activities once she's released in July. Bryant says he will ask a Quebec court judge to impose conditions on Homolka under section 810 of the Criminal Code, which allows for curfews and other restrictions.
CBC STORY: Ontario calls for restrictions on Homolka after release

April 12, 2005:
Michael Bryant says Homolka will not be charged with killing her sister when she is released from prison in July.
CBC STORY: Ontario won't charge Homolka in sister's death

April 26, 2005:
Two officers with Niagara Regional Police meet with Homolka to discuss her plans after her release from prison. The details of that conversation are not released.

May 19, 2005:
A law passes through the Senate requiring violent criminals, including Karla Homolka, to give a DNA sample to a national databank. The bill, C-13, speeds through the minority government in part because of Homolka's impending release.
CBC STORY: Homolka, others must give DNA sample under new law

June 2, 2005:
Karla Homolka appears in a court in Joliette, Que., as prosecutors argue that restrictions should be placed on her freedom when she is released. It is the first time she is seen in public since she testified against her former husband, Paul Bernardo, 10 years earlier.
CBC STORY: Homolka in chains in court hearing

June 3, 2005:
After two days of arguments, Judge Jean R. Beaulieu agrees that Karla Homolka may pose a risk to society after she is released. He places several restrictions on her freedom that are to take effect after she is released. They include: CBC STORY: Judge says Homolka still poses threat, imposes strict conditions on her freedom

June 29, 2005:
A Quebec judge turns down Karla Homolka's request for an injunction prohibiting the media from telling certain details about her life after she's released from prison. Homolka had hoped for a ban lasting 10 days after her release. Mr. Justice Paul-Marcel Bellavance rules that granting the injunction would have impaired the freedom of the press.

Bellavance also agrees with an argument made by several media outlets that the public has a right to know Homolka's location because of the severity of her crimes and because another court earlier had ruled that she could still be dangerous.
CBC STORY: Judge denies plea for media ban in Homolka case

July 4, 2005:
Karla Homolka is released from prison after serving her 12-year sentence. She is whisked out of the St. Anne des Plaines prison, north of Montreal, where she had been transferred about a month before her release. Reporters wait outside the prison for days to catch a glimpse of her leaving and chase various vehicles they believe are transporting her, without being sure she is inside. A prison official and the lawyer for the victims' families confirm the release.

Homolka's lawyers continue fighting in court to prevent the media from reporting on her life outside prison, including her whereabouts.