Serial killer Karla Homolka released: Does she deserve a normal life now?
Karla Homolka & her husband, Paul Bernado, terrorized the Scarborough, Toronto community during the 80s & 90s. Dubbed the Ken & Barbi Killers, the couple were serial killers & rapists known for the charm & good looks. They were like a serial killer power couple.
The two went around kidnapping, murdering, and raping young women in Toronto, Canada, between the ages of 15 & 21. While Bernado still sits in prison, Homolka was released in 2005 with multiple restrictions attached to her releases.
While she remains a threat to the community, Homolka now lives a free woman, regardless of the restrictions attached to her release. As she lives along, she continues to look to live a private life in a real Nancy Voorhees scenario. But does she deserve her privacy?
If you haven’t seen “Five Star Final,” where the Voorhees reference comes from, we highly recommend watching it.
Karla Homolka’s crimes
While engaged to Paul Bernado, he took a liking to Karla Homolka’s younger sister Tammy. Bernado would break into her bedroom to masturbate. To please her fiance, Homolka broke slats in her sister’s blinds for Bernado to get better access to Tammy.
The abuse went further as the couple drugged & raped Tammy twice. According to Homolka, the first time she drugged her sister’s spaghetti sauce with Valium. The second time she laced her sister’s drink with Halothane, an animal tranquilizer Homolka stole from the animal clinic she was working at. After the drug took effect, Bernado raped Tammy.
She began vomiting and choked on her vomit resulting in her death. The couple put her in the basement bathroom before calling 911 to cover up her murder. Despite chemical burns to Tammy’s face, authorities believed the couple’s version of events. The two went on to kidnapped, raped, and murdered two other victims: fourteen-year-old Leslie Mahaffy & fifteen-year-old Kristen French.
Karla Homolka’s trial & deal
Karla Homolka testified on her husband in exchange for a shorter sentence. Homolka told authorities he was abusing her, and she was an unwilling accomplice to it all. However, after authorities finalized the plea deal, videotapes revealed she was a much more active participant than she let on.
For testifying against her husband, Homolka received twelve years in prison. In 2005, she was released with nine restrictions. They included notifying police of any residence or name changes, any travel plans for over forty-eight hours, report to the police station the first Friday of every month, and can’t work or volunteer around anyone under the age of sixteen. The courts lifted the restrictions four months later.
Karla Homolka’s case for privacy
Karla Homolka, now fifty, sued a journalist for revealing her living situation, including where she was living & her assumed name. The case was heard & dismissed by The Quebec Press Council. Her lawyer argued the reporting was a breach of Homolka’s privacy.
Prisoners’ advocates agree with this view of privacy. According to Eric Bélisle, a coordinator at the prisoners’ rights group Alter Justice, “Yes, [Homolka’s crimes were] horrible but if we want a former prisoner not to commit a crime again — not just for Homolka but for former prisoners in general — they must be able to participate in society.”
Bélisle recognizes the differences in Homolka’s case, given the horrific & public details of her crimes. However, for prisoners to reenter society after their sentences, public scrupulous isn’t fair. In his interview with the Montreal Gazette, he added, “If the court decided that there was no reason for strict supervision, you must have confidence in the experts.”
Public vs. private figures
Prisoners fall under a delicate tight rope. While most trials like Karla Homolka’s are public, does it reasonably make them a public figure. Journalists have to make this determination with their editors & publications. In Five Star Final, the film depicts this struggle, and it costs the protagonists their life. Again if you haven’t seen it, we highly recommend you do.
The council’s dismissal means Homolka is a public figure and not privy to the privacy rights allotted to private figures. They ruled the article in question was not the first to release Homolka’s location and didn’t release her exact address. It also ruled her assumed name Leanne Teale had been used in court documents and was first published in 1999.
Though prisoners’ advocates believe the best thing for former prisoners is to return to anonymity. Many argue just because Homolka was in the paper once automatically makes her a public figure. She deserves the right to return to private life. Her crime might be horrific, but she’s served her time.
What do you think? Does Karla Homolka deserve privacy? Let us know in the comments.