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The return of the enigma

May 2016

With the recent news that convicted serial killer Karla Holmolka is now living in Chateauguay, outside of Montreal, newspapers and web sites are again filled with stories about her.  Some may wonder if we should just leave her alone; let sleeping dogs lie.  Are we just re-opening old wounds and rehashing things that are best left in the past?  Why are we all still so fascinated with Karla?  Shouldn’t we just leave her alone to live her life?

Of course the answer is no.  We should never forget the horrific crimes she and her ex-husband Paul Bernardo committed to numerous innocent families, including Holmolka’s own family, nor should we let her think we’ve forgotten about them too.

Karla Holmolka has always been an enigma.  On the outside, she was  the beautiful young bride we all saw in those wedding photos, but underneath she was a monstrous sexual predator and killer, or at the very least an active participant, in the killing of 3 teenage girls, one of whom was her own sister.

Now it seems that Karla is playing the role of soccer-mom to 3 of her own children.  One has to wonder if that sex-killer side of her personality is gone, lying dormant or still active.  It’s possible.  No one realized just what a depraved and sadistic woman she really was until those infamous videos surfaced, appallingly after her “Deal with the Devil” had been signed, a deal that was doubly appalling in that it was not declared null and void right there and then.

I’ve never met Karla personally, but like anyone who was living in the Golden Horseshoe area of southern Ontario in the early 1990s, the disappearance and murders of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristin French gripped the minds of the populace.  Karla Holmolka and her then-husband Paul Bernardo were the “Ken and Barbie” couple who seemed a perfect, beautiful couple, but underneath were vicious sexual predators and killers.

I even had my “brush with greatness” moments in the story.  When Leslie Mahaffy disappeared, I was working at Canada’s Wonderland and knew a girl who looked exactly like Leslie, including the braces.  I joked with her that she should just go home to her parents and stop worrying them.  Shortly afterwards, Leslie’s body was found.

The following year, I was driving back to Burlington from Toronto when I heard that Halton Regional Police had a section of No. 1 Side Road blocked off for an investigation.  Knowing this area and what significance this might have, I headed out that way, very naively thinking that I might be able to get some newspaper worthy photos of the crime scene for the local papers.  Although I never actively pursued a career as a professional news photographer of journalist, some sort of part-time freelance career was appealing.

Later that summer, I was working as a parking enforcement officer in Hamilton and came across an illegally parked beige Camero, the same kind of car that we were all told to look for back then as the car suspected of having been involved in the kidnapping of Kristin French.  As I was writing out the ticked, the driver rushed past me without even looking at me got in the car and drove off.  I gave the licence plate information to the police.

For me, it’s more than just the outrage over her “Deal with the devil”, a deal that has allowed her a life outside of the prison where she should be rotting for the rest of her life, just like Paul Bernardo is now doing.  One of the infuriating things about her is that her crimes, sexual crimes, aren’t the kind of offences from which one can be easily rehabilitated, if at all.  Frankly, many of us out there think she is still a dangerous, narcissistic psychopath.  Oh sure, she has apparently kept her nose clean since her release from prison in 2005.  But then again, we originally thought she was nothing more than an innocent victim of spousal abuse the first time around when things started to unravel for Paul Bernardo.  If Bernardo hadn’t beaten her so savagely in December 1992 that she went to the police and eventually spilled her guts, would she have attempted to conceal their involvement in the murders after he was arrested for the Scarborough rapes?

Karla didn’t come forward out of a moral crisis; she was trying to save herself from prosecution.  She initially attempted to get complete immunity.  Even the National Parole Board denied her statutory release in 2001 because they deemed her to be “…a risk to commit another violent crime.”

The fact that Karla gets to live her current life is outrageous, especially given that she is apparently oblivious to the irony that she is now the mother of 3 children when there are 3 mothers out there who no longer have their children, including her own mother.  As I said before, she should be in prison until the day she dies.

It may be true that Karla has legally paid her debt to society and there is no legal right for the state to prevent her from having kids, but that still doesn’t make it any easier to accept the situation.  The moral test of guilt or innocent and a just punishment is a different threshold than the legal one.  While Karla was convicted of her crimes, acquittals in two recent high-profile criminal cases (Jian Ghomeshi and Mike Duffy) has proven this point.  Just because someone is legally acquitted, it doesn’t mean we have to morally accept the outcomes.

This year both Leslie and Kristin would have turned 40 years old.  Tammy Holmolka, Karla’s youngest sister who she and Bernardo also raped and murdered, would be turning 41.  None of them got to graduate high school, build careers, get married, have children, travel, make their mark on society and get to see their grandchildren.

Karla and Paul took everything they were and everything they would have been.  In no way do I wish any harm to come to Karla’s children, who are completely innocent parties, but I can’t help but wonder if Karla has any sleepless nights worrying that someone like her and Paul will abduct and harm her children.  I truly hope she protects them better than she did Tammy, Leslie and Kristin.

The murder victims of Paul Bernardo and Karla Holmolka (that we know of):

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE HERE

We all saw your photos

Snapshots of the past

Of a time long ago

It’s all we have left

 

The smiles so young and vibrant

Snuffed out and gone

You were at the brink of adulthood

But now there’s no future

Only the past

 

There is no way of knowing

What you would have become

You’d be entering your 40s now

Maybe with children of your own

 

We must never forget you

And the lives not lived

Hopefully the evil that took you

Will be sucked into a black hole and never seen again

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/the-return-of-the-enigma/

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