Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Homolka married, a mother of three

Book details killer's new life

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TORONTO -- She horrified the country with her role in the torture and killing of Ontario schoolgirls two decades ago. Now she has three children of her own.

Years after her case gripped the country, Karla Homolka has been found living in the Caribbean under a different name with a husband and three young children.

The details of her life after 12 years in prison are revealed in a 46-page ebook, Finding Karla, by journalist Paula Todd.

"No matter how much we might want to forget Karla Homolka, she never really goes away, she hovers in any courtroom, if you think about it, where somebody is on trial for any kind of child abuse," Todd told The Canadian Press. "We needed these answers."

In the early 1990s, Homolka and her then-husband, Paul Bernardo, were convicted of raping and slaying two schoolgirls, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. While Bernardo was sentenced to life in prison, Homolka struck a deal in 1993 to serve 12 years in prison for manslaughter. She had claimed Bernardo abused her and made her a reluctant accomplice. Videotapes later surfaced showing Homolka had a far more active role in the slayings than she had claimed.

Little has been known about Homolka's life since she was released from prison in 2005.

For Todd, that lack of information drove her to figure out what had become of the notorious killer.

After mining the Internet for any scrap of information, Todd decided to follow an obscure lead that led her to the island of Guadeloupe in May.

"The reason I went is because I think it was in the public interest for people to know what had happened to what is widely considered a huge police bungle," she said.

Todd spent days roving the island until she tracked her down. When she appeared on Homolka's doorstep unannounced, a day after the convicted killer's 42nd birthday, Todd was allowed inside and spent a tense hour in the apartment.

"The tension started from the moment I realized I had actually found her, and it continued like a tight, tight string, all the way through until I left about an hour later," Todd said.

"Canadians are worried that she's gone on to repeat the horror. I can't say for sure what she's doing, but I can tell Canadians that she seems to have made a life somewhere else, she has a family and she's still living in confinement."

The confinement refers to the closed life Homolka lives.

"She said to me, 'What makes you think I feel safe?' " Todd recalled. "She knows that Canadians and the world continue to despise her for what she did."

Todd said the woman living under the name Leanne Bordelais didn't want to discuss the past.

"Even though she doesn't want to talk about her life... I thought it was interesting that I was allowed to observe."

Those observations included a tidy home, a seemingly harmonious relationship with her husband and a healthy relationship with her three children, one of whom Homolka breastfed while Todd was in the room.

"She presented as a very good mother, but who knows. I have no reason to believe those kids are not well-cared for."

It is in the hopes of keeping those children happy Todd said she would not reveal Homolka's address, nor publish the names of her children. "Do I have warm feelings towards her? Absolutely not," Todd said. "I was completely neutral. There's so much opinion about this, it's so caustic and it's so painful that I didn't want to get in the way of reporting to Canadians."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 22, 2012 A15

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