Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka

Moving up to Murder

After their marriage, Karla and Paul Bernardo lived in their home on Bayview in St. Catharines.  Paul had begun augmenting his income by smuggling cigarettes across the border and needed the stolen license plates to disguise his frequent visits across the American-Canadian line. It was the need for a stolen license plate that brought him into contact with his first murder victim, Leslie Mahaffy.

Leslie Mahaffy
Leslie Mahaffy

Leslie Mahaffy was a troubled youngster. Her strong, independent personality seemed to be at the root of the problem, which manifested itself in ignoring her curfews, engaging in promiscuous sex, skipping school and even shoplifting. Her parents responded by getting tough on Leslie when she broke the rules.

On Friday, June 14, 1991, Leslie went out for the evening with her friends and stayed out well past her curfew. At 2 A.M., she found herself locked out of her house. She called her girlfriend to ask her if she could spend the night with her, but the girlfriend didn't think that her mother would allow it at that hour. Leslie told her girlfriend that she was going back home to wake up her parents.

Leslie had actually gone back to her home to see if there was any way to get in without waking her parents. With the worst possible luck imaginable, she encountered Paul Bernardo who was prowling around the neighborhood looking for license plates to steal.

He pulled a knife on Leslie Mahaffy and forced her to go in his car.

Paul took his catch home. While Karla slept, he began to videotape the fourteen-year-old Leslie naked and blindfolded. When Karla woke up, she was very angry that Paul had used their best champagne glasses to entertain his new toy. Finally, Karla came around and started being the obedient wife that Paul demanded.

Paul gave Karla elaborate instructions on how to make love to Leslie. It was the voice of a director in an important film. Every moment had to be just perfect for the videotape he was making. After the prelude with Karla, Paul went in for the rough stuff, while his wife held the camera. The brute force of his anal penetration caused Leslie to scream in pain. The rough stuff escalated and Leslie died.

On the evening June 29, 1991, a man and his wife were canoeing on Lake Gibson when they came across a concrete block with some pieces of animal flesh encased in it. Later, he went back to the spot and, with the help of a fisherman, pulled out the concrete block and looked at it closely. Inside the block was the calf and foot of a young woman.

Soon, the place was alive with cops, who found a total of five concrete blocks that had been dumped there in the shallow water. Police theorized that whoever dumped this body in Lake Gibson was not familiar with the area or he would have dumped the concrete blocks over the bridge where the deep water may have kept them a secret forever.

Not long afterwards, the torso of a young woman was found in the water. The body parts that had been found in the concrete block had been cut from her torso with a power saw. Leslie's distinctive braces provided the clues to her identification.

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