Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka

Striking Out on Her Own

By Rachael Bell

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Premier Dalton McGuinty

After 12 years behind bars Karla Homolka, one of Canada's most notorious sex killers, is getting released from jail. The families of her and her ex-husband's victims, as well as those who narrowly survived their abuse, have long dreaded her release from prison. Many Canadians believe that it is inevitable that she will kill again.

However, Karla's attorneys and some psychologists staunchly disagree that she poses a danger to society, suggesting that her murderous rampage was a reaction to the spousal abuse from Paul Bernardo. Conversely, the tapes of the rapes and murders released after her plea bargain depicted a different scenario, in which she appeared as if she was a willing and equal accomplice in the crimes.

Her release in early July, 2005, has outraged many Canadian citizens who demanded that restriction be placed on Karla's freedom. Consequently, the Ontario government called for a hearing into the matter in an effort to reduce the risk of her committing another crime. AP Worldstream quoted Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty saying, "people are very concerned about what she might do again and we have a responsibility to protect the public interest."

Judge Jean Beaulieu
Judge Jean Beaulieu

Karla made her first public appearance in twelve years at Quebec Superior Court in Joilette on June 2, 2005. During the court proceedings, prosecutors tried to prove that Karla continued to pose a danger to the public and specifically asked that her movements be closely monitored following her release. They also wanted the court to order Karla to submit to a DNA test, so that her genetic samples could be kept on file in a criminal database, according to AP Worldstream.

During the proceedings Superior Court Judge Jean Beaulieu sided with the prosecution and ordered Karla's movements to be heavily limited. Karla will now have to continually inform the police of her whereabouts, undergo psychological therapy, refrain from contacting any of the victims' family members or her ex-husband and she will not be allowed to work with children under the age of 16, Phil Couvrette reported for AP Online.

Artist's sketch of Karla Homolka's new look
Artist's sketch of Karla Homolka's new

Karla was likely displeased with the restrictions placed on her freedom, especially since they went against the original plea bargain. Nonetheless, she still fared better than her ex-husband, Paul Bernardo, who will remain behind bars for the rest of his life. In the meantime, she makes plans for the immediate future.

In preparation for her new life, Karla has adopted a new identity. She changed her name to Karla Teale, cut her hair, dyed it black and even lost weight, AP Worldstream reported. Her father, Karel Homolka, said in an AP Worldstream article that she doesn't plan to move back to her hometown of St. Catharines but will instead "live in an apartment in west-end Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighborhood, in the heart of the Anglophone community." Yet, many residents there don't welcome the idea of her settling in their neighborhood. It's no surprise, considering the viciousness of her past crimes.

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