by Patrick H. Moore
Is Karla Homolka the most hated women in North America? It’s hard to think of any other female who evokes the utter loathing that is directed at Homolka from journalists, bloggers, and commentators online. This would appears to set her apart from other serial killers, whether male or female, or solo practitioners or part of a deadly duo. Most serial killers, although objects of interest, are not utterly despised by those who follow them. True fiends such as Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy are the subject of thousands of internet searches daily by readers who are fascinated by the dark recesses of the criminal mind. Here at All Things Crime Blog we get daily referrals from “surfers” trolling the Internet for fresh insights into the psyche of the deadly Mr. Dahmer, often in the middle of the night. When I go to sleep, I chuckle to myself knowing that in the morning when I “hit the blog running” I will discover that — sure enough — the Dahmer people have made their faithful nocturnal courtesy calls. I thank them and I think I understand them. There is something so eerily creepy about Dahmer that you just can’t get enough of him.
But I don’t believe that most of the individuals that make up Team Dahmer loathe and despise the man. Rather, I believe that they — for the most part — are entertained and fascinated by Dahmer, whose mere existence (he lives on in infamy) raises endless questions about the dark inner reaches of the human mind. In the final analysis, like life and death, he remains an eternal mystery. And, to top it off, Jeffrey had his fetishes — his skulls, his body parts, his specimen jars, his penchant for necrophilia; he was what back in the day was called: “A Real Sick Puppy.” And some of us can’t help — at a certain level — feeling some degree of sympathy for the “poor devil.”
Well, such is not the case with Karla Homolka. Although she and Paul Bernardo were apparently only responsible for the rape, torture and murders of three Canadian schoolgirls (including of course Karla’s sister Tammy, whom they drugged and both raped), based on the hatred she evinces, you would think the number was much higher. The loathing is deep and visceral. It is felt by Canadians and Americans; it is shared by “regular folks” and the press alike.
For example, when All Things Crime Blog recently posted an article on Karla and subsequently canvassed some of the Canadian bloggers and message board posters who write frequently about Homolka, we received numerous responses which indicate just how raw the Karla Homolka wound remains for many Canadians. Here is one particularly interesting response:
I am, however, far too familiar with the type of woman Karla is, and with the way they think. People – particularly men from what I’ve been reading – constantly under-evaluate their danger and malice (and malevolence) and make excuses for them.
After all, if she went through all of this only to have a sexual affair in prison with Gerbet, really just how naive and innocent was she in the first place?
But really, if you’re looking for vetting of any articles on her, I’d suggest you might want to run them by the crime reporters who covered the trial. They have a major bee in their bonnet about her to this very day – every single one of them. No matter the article, you can just feel the sense of disgust, dismay, and injustice whenever the subject of Karla comes up for any of them. They’re all award-winning writers who are extremely skilled at what they do. The fact that every one of them remains so disturbed all these years later should tell us something.
Heck, even though she’d been a crime reporter for some time at that point, Patricia Pearson was so knocked off balance by what she learned at that trial that she wrote a book to get it out of her system. Christie Blatchford and Rosie DiManno still write about her her often, with a level of pain and sadness and anger that seems little diminished from when they first covered the trials.
In Rosie DiMannio’s 2012 article, in which she describes how journalist Paula Todd tracked Karla down in Guadeloupe where she is living with her husband and three children, the journalist pens this revealing passage:
Any insights culled from this exchange must come from Todd. She is the one who witnessed Homolka interacting with husband and children, at one point arching her back and assuming a sultry pose as she breastfeeds her baby.
That’s the Karla Homolka those of us who saw her home sex movies in court will remember, a frankly carnal and lascivious creature, a predator without an ounce of conscience. That breast, now suckling a child, is familiar, as are all Homolka’s intimate body parts.
She was a succubus.
She is a killer.
It’s not a story she’ll tell her kids, tucking them in at night. But they’ll learn of it, someday.
To me, this is a little strange: Did Karla, when observed by Paula Todd, really “arch her back and assume a sultry pose as she breastfeeds her baby?” Could there be a bit of poetic license informing Paula Todd’s fine writing? But far be it from me as a male observer to speculate on what women feel or do as they breastfeed their babies. But what we can certainly gather from this is the fact that dedicated followers of the Homolka-Bernardo schoolgirl murders truly loathe Karla. I get the impression that some of the “haters” would love nothing more than to be given the opportunity to get in the ring with Karla and beat her to a bloody pulp, or maybe do even worse things. But now I’m getting carried away.
But be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that many apparently perfectly normal people TRULY HATE KARLA HOMOLKA with a hatred that is deep, visceral and unrelenting.
So what fuels this?
As an American who only heard about this case fairly recently, but is developing a mounting interest in it, it seems useful to discuss some of the observations that fuel this unrelenting distaste:
Justice Has Not Been Served
Homolka served 12 years for manslaughter and was released in 2005. The relatively light sentence reflects a plea bargain which became known in Canada as the “Deal with the Devil”, in large part because of the perception that Homolka minimized her participation in negotiating the plea bargain — only to have the true extent of her involvement revealed when video tapes of the sexual crimes, not available to the authorities at the time of the plea bargain, were disclosed and showed Karla a willing participant. Subsequent analysis showing that Karla had revealed the full extent of her participation in the assaults on her sister, Leslie Mahaffey, and Kristen French does not seem to have done much to diminish the outrage on this count.
The Theory That Karla Was the Real Murderer
The theory that Karla, not Paul Bernardo, was the actual murderer who took the lives of the victims is one that has gained significant traction among many. Trish Wood writes in some detail about the theory and its proponents in The Case Against Karla Homolka. In it, she cites FBI profiler Candice Skrapec, and Dr. Vincent Dimaio. Skrapec watched hundreds of hours of Homolka interrogation and interviews and came to the conclusion that sexual sadist Bernardo was only half a psychopathic equation — and that Homolka was afflicted with “malignant narcissism” which likely drove her to kill.
“This personality cannot tolerate humiliation. It is capable of destroying others in the service of meeting its ego needs.” In Skrapec’s view, Homolka would have had no tolerance for anyone who she thought might take her rightful place at the side of Bernardo. . . .
Under this theory, Bernardo was essentially a garden variety rapist who extended his rape activities to include the sexual enslavement of French and Mahaffey — but was not the killer. It was Karla who really called the shots and performed the ultimate loathsome deeds.
Karla is Strangely Without Affect and Is Unrepentant
In her interrogation videos and in her testimony, it was remarked that Karla was strangely without “affect” or animation, and even after being released back into society, she has never apologized to the victims’ families or otherwise demonstrated that she is in any serious way repentant. Indeed, while in prison she engaged in a sexual relationship with a murderer not altogether different from Paul Bernardo, further cementing the notion that she had gamed the system and was flaunting that fact to anyone paying attention.
It’s a Canadian Thing
Americans have long ago adjusted to the idea that there are lunatic Americans who will occasionally surface and wreak mayhem, and when they do, we do not feel our national identity threatened. Not so in Canada, where crimes of this sort are rare — and this crime in particular rankles because the perpetrators in essence masqueraded as clean-cut, good young Canadians — the veritable boy and girl next door. This sense of deception, and the sense that Homolka and Bernardo were the “enemy within” seems to continue to fuel the anger.
A Modest Proposal
I sense that many good-hearted, essentially moral Canadians (and, no doubt, some Americans) feel genuinely betrayed by Karla and I will tell you why I believe this is so:
Most citizens observe what Jean-Jacques Rousseau so famously called “The Social Contract.” In return for living within a society that provides us with opportunities for shelter, sustenance and the all-important sense of belonging, we, as citizens, sign a sort of mental contract with society. In return for the right to live within the society and utilize the many comforts it provides, we, in turn, agree to follow “the rules.” Sure, we are not required to be perfect but we are required to proceed within certain boundaries. This means we do not drive 100 miles per hour during rush hour traffic. We do not steal other people’s identities and pillage their bank accounts. At work, we put in reasonably effort and do not “screw the boss.” Most dramatically, we do not rape and murder anyone, and particularly not vulnerable school girls. We simply do not.
It is, of course, true that some of us may entertain aberrant fantasies from time to time, but we certainly don’t act upon them. We would not even consider doing so. Those of us who strive to maintain a reasonable level of appropriate social interaction take pride in being decent people. You could say that we are all part of the “decent people club.”
I believe that the Homolka haters justifiably sense that Karla did not have to run amuck in the manner she did. Unlike Jeffrey Dahmer, she wasn’t born with obscure mental problems and raised in a weird and unnerving environment (Dahmer’s mother was reportedly very unstable and his father was a strange, retiring scientist with a penchant for bizarre experimentation). Homolka’s upbringing appears to have been quite normal. This fact is supported by the manner in which her family helped her go to the authorities when she finally decided the end the game. That’s right, to Homolka it appears to have all been a dark and evil game, fun for her and Bernardo. Just kicks! “Wow! Wasn’t that something? Did you see how scared that little bitch was? Now how do we get rid of the body?”
My impression of Homolka’s essential normalcy is borne out by the fact that she now leads a conventional family life. In fact, she may well be essentially normal. Except she’s not. She’s a rapist and murderer who — because not insane — appears to have thoroughly enjoyed rape, torture and murder. And therein lies the rub. A normal person does not rape and murder for the fun of it. But Karla did. And those who recognize this will never forgive her such shameful self-indulgence. Nor should they.
Wow! I’m apparently on the road to becoming a Karla hater myself. Thank you, all you fellow haters for setting me straight.
Click on the following links to read other posts in All Things Crime Blog’s “Karla” series:
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