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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Centre of Forensic Sciences begins DNA testing of the samples Bernardo
provided in 1990.
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
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.
The plea agreement between Crown prosecutors and Homolka's lawyers is finalized.
June 28, 1993:
Homolka's trial begins.
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.
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
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
Bernardo is declared a dangerous offender, meaning he will likely spend the rest
of his life in jail.
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
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.
Ken Murray is charged with obstruction of justice and possession of child
pornography for failing to turn over the Bernardo tapes.
Homolka is transferred to Joliette Institution in Quebec when the Kingston
Prison for Women is closed.
The Ontario Court of Appeal dismisses Bernardo's request for a new trial.
STORY: Bernardo appeal dismissed
Murray is acquitted of charges arising from his failure to turn over the
STORY: Court finds Bernardo lawyer not guilty
Sept. 21, 2000:
The Supreme Court of Canada denies Bernardo's leave to appeal his murder
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.
STORY: Homolka transferred to maximum-security facility
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.
STORY: Prosecutors drop charge against Bernardo author
Homolka is transferred to a Montreal psychiatric hospital to undergo treatment.
STORY: Homolka on her way to Quebec: report
The National Parole Board denies Homolka's application for early release, saying
she is a risk to kill again.
STORY: Karla Homolka denied statutory release
The six videotapes depicting the rape and torture of Bernardo and Homolka's
victims are destroyed.
STORY: Tapes made by Bernardo destroyed
The National Parole Board rules that Homolka is still a risk to society and will
not be granted early release.
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.
STORY: Questions over controversial Homolka book
The English language version of Williams' book, and Karla: A Pact with the
Devil, appears on bookstore shelves.
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.
STORY: Homolka author arrested over Internet content
Ontario Provincial Police lay 94 new charges against Stephen Williams related to
his books Invisible Darkness and Karla: A Pact with the Devil.
STORY: Bernardo author faces new charges
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
STORY: Judge says Homolka still poses threat, imposes strict conditions on
- She is to tell police her home address, work address and who she lives
- She has to notify police as soon as any of the above changes.
- She will also have to notify police of any change to her name.
- If she wants to be away from her home for more than 48 hours, she will
have to give 72 hours notice.
- She cannot contact Paul Bernardo, the families of Leslie Mahaffy and
Kristen French or Jane Doe. She also may not contact any violent criminals.
- She also will be forbidden from being with people under the age of 16 and
from consuming drugs other than prescription medicine.
- Continue therapy and counselling.
- Provide police with a DNA sample.
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
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.