Paul Kenneth Bernardo (born August 27, 1964), is a Canadian serial killer and serial rapist. Bernardo is known for initially committing a series of rapes in Scarborough, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, between 1987 and 1990. He subsequently committed three murders with his then-wife Karla Homolka; among these victims was his young sister-in-law Tammy Homolka. After his capture and conviction, Bernardo was sentenced to life imprisonment and was later declared a dangerous offender unlikely to be released.
Bernardo committed multiple sexual assaults, escalating in viciousness, in and around Scarborough.
Known incidents are:
May 4, 1987: Rape of a 21-year-old Scarborough woman in front of her parents' house, after Bernardo followed her home.
May 14, 1987: Rape of a 19-year-old woman in the backyard of her parents' house.
July 17, 1987: Attempted rape of a young woman. Although he beat the victim, he abandoned the attack when she fought back.
September 29, 1987: Attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl. Bernardo broke into a house in Scarborough and entered the victim's bedroom. He jumped on her back, put his hand over her mouth, threatened her with a knife, bruised the side of her face and bit her ear. Bernardo fled when the victim's mother entered the room and screamed. 19 years old at the time of the crime, Anthony Hanemaayer was convicted of the sexual assault in 1989 and served a sixteen-month prison sentence, but was exonerated after Bernardo admitted the crime in 2006.
December 16, 1987: Rape of a 15-year-old girl. The next day Metropolitan Toronto Police issued a warning to women in Scarborough traveling alone at night, especially those riding buses.
December 23, 1987: Rape of a 17-year-old girl with a knife he used to threaten his victims. At this point, he began to be known as the Scarborough Rapist.
April 18, 1988: Bernardo attacked a 17-year-old girl.
May 25, 1988: Bernardo was nearly caught by a uniformed Metro Toronto investigator staking out a bus shelter. Although the investigator noticed Bernardo hiding under a tree and pursued him on foot, he escaped.
October 4, 1988: Attempted rape in Scarborough. Although his intended victim fought him off, he inflicted two stab wounds to her thigh and buttock which required 12 stitches.
November 16, 1988: Rape of an 18-year-old woman in the backyard of her parents' house
November 17, 1988: Metro Police formed a task force to capture the Scarborough Rapist.
December 27, 1988: Attempted rape, with a neighbour chasing Bernardo off.
June 20, 1989: Attempted rape; the young woman fought, and her screams alerted neighbours. Bernardo fled with scratches on his face.
August 15, 1989: Rape of a 22-year-old woman. Bernardo stalked her the previous night outside the window of her apartment, and waited for her to arrive home.
November 21, 1989: Rape of a 15-year-old girl Bernardo saw in a bus shelter.
December 22, 1989: Rape of a 19-year-old woman.
May 26, 1990: Rape of a 19-year-old woman. His victim's vivid recollection of her attacker enabled police to create a computer composite portrait, which was released two days later by police and published in Toronto and area newspapers.
When she worked at a pet shop two years earlier, Homolka befriended a 15-year-old girl. On June 7, 1991, Homolka invited the girl, known as "Jane Doe" in the trials, for a "girls' night out". After an evening of shopping and dining, Homolka plied "Jane Doe" with alcohol laced with Halcion. When the girl lost consciousness, Homolka called Bernardo to tell him that his surprise wedding gift was ready. They undressed "Jane Doe", and Bernardo videotaped Homolka raping the girl before he penetrated her vaginally and anally. The next morning, "Jane Doe" was nauseated; she thought that her vomiting was from drinking alcohol for the first time, and did not realize that she had been sexually assaulted.
"Jane Doe" was invited back to Port Dalhousie in August to "spend the night". In a replay of what happened to Karla's sister, Tammy Homolka, "Jane Doe" (whose identity is protected by law) stopped breathing after she was drugged and Bernardo began to rape her. Homolka called 911 for help, but called back a few minutes later to say that "everything is all right". The ambulance was recalled without follow-up. "Jane Doe" survived.
By 1990, Bernardo was spending long periods of time with Homolka's family, who liked him. Although he was engaged to Karla, he flirted with her younger sister Tammy. Bernardo had not told them that he had lost his job as an accountant and was smuggling cigarettes across the nearby Canada–United States border. He had become obsessed with Tammy, peering into her window and entering her room to masturbate while she slept. Homolka helped Bernardo by breaking the windows in her sisters' room, allowing him access. In July, he took Tammy across the border to get beer for a party; Bernardo later told his fiancée that "they got drunk and began making out".
According to Bernardo's testimony at his trial, Homolka laced spaghetti sauce with crushed valium she had stolen from her employer at Martindale Animal Clinic. She served it to her sister, who soon lost consciousness. Bernardo then raped Tammy while Karla watched. Over the summer, he supplied Tammy and her friends with gifts, food and soft drinks with "a film and a few white flecks on the top".
Six months before their 1991 wedding, Homolka stole the anaesthetic agent halothane from the clinic. On December 23, 1990, Homolka and Bernardo administered sleeping pills to the 15-year-old in a rum-and-eggnog cocktail. When Tammy lost consciousness, Homolka and Bernardo undressed her and Karla applied a Halothane-soaked cloth to her sister's nose and mouth. Homolka wanted to "give Tammy's virginity to Bernardo for Christmas"; according to her, Bernardo was disappointed that he was not Karla's first sex partner. With Tammy's parents sleeping upstairs, they videotaped themselves raping her in the basement. Tammy began to vomit; they tried to revive her and called 911 after hiding evidence, dressing Tammy and moving her into her bedroom. A few hours later, Tammy was pronounced dead at St. Catharines General Hospital without regaining consciousness.
Despite their behaviour (vacuuming and washing laundry in the middle of the night) and despite a chemical burn on Tammy's face, the Regional Municipality of Niagara coroner and the Homolka family accepted Bernardo and Homolka's version of events. The official cause of Tammy Homolka's death was accidental: choking on vomit after consumption of alcohol. Bernardo and Homolka subsequently videotaped themselves, with Karla wearing Tammy's clothing and pretending to be her. They moved out of the Homolka house to a rented Port Dalhousie bungalow to allow Homolka's parents to grieve.
Early in the morning on June 15, 1991, Bernardo detoured through Burlington (halfway between Toronto and St. Catharines) to steal licence plates and found Leslie Mahaffy. The 14-year-old had missed her curfew after attending a friend's wake and was locked out of her house. Bernardo left his car and approached Mahaffy, saying that he wanted to break into a neighbour's house. Unfazed, she asked if he had any cigarettes. When Bernardo led her to his car he blindfolded her, forced her into the car, drove her to Port Dalhousie and informed Homolka that they had a victim.
Bernardo and Homolka videotaped themselves torturing and sexually abusing Mahaffy while they listened to Bob Marley and David Bowie. At one point Bernardo said, "You're doing a good job, Leslie, a damned good job", adding: "The next two hours are going to determine what I do to you. Right now, you're scoring perfect." On another segment of tape played at Bernardo's trial, the assault escalated. Mahaffy cried out in pain, and begged Bernardo to stop. In the Crown description of the scene, he was sodomizing her while her hands were bound with twine.
Mahaffy later told Bernardo that her blindfold seemed to be slipping, which signaled the possibility that she could identify her attackers if she lived. The following day, Bernardo claimed, Homolka fed her a lethal dose of Halcion; Homolka claimed that Bernardo strangled her. They put Mahaffy's body in their basement, and the day after that the Homolka family had dinner at the house. After the Homolkas and their remaining daughter Lori left, Bernardo and Homolka decided that the best way to dispose of the evidence would be to dismember Mahaffy and encase each part of her remains in cement. Bernardo bought a dozen bags of cement at a hardware store the following day; he kept the receipts, which were damaging at his trial. Bernardo used his grandfather's circular saw to dismember Mahaffy. Bernardo and Homolka made a number of trips to dump the cement blocks in Lake Gibson, 18 kilometres south of Port Dalhousie. At least one of the blocks weighed 90 kg and was beyond their ability to sink. It lay near the shore, where it was found by Michael Doucette and his son Michael Jr while on a fishing expedition on June 29, 1991. Mahaffy's orthodontic appliance was instrumental in identifying her.
Homolka was released from prison on July 4, 2005. Several days before, Bernardo was interviewed by police and his lawyer Tony Bryant. According to Bryant, Bernardo said that he had always intended to free the girls he and Homolka kidnapped. However, when Mahaffy's blindfold fell off (allowing her to see Bernardo's face) Homolka was concerned that Mahaffy would identify Bernardo and report them to the police. Bernardo claimed that Homolka planned to murder Mahaffy by injecting an air bubble into her bloodstream, triggering an embolism.
During the after-school hours of April 16, 1992 (Maundy Thursday), Bernardo and Homolka drove through St. Catharines to look for potential victims. Although students were still going home, the streets were generally empty. As they passed Holy Cross Secondary School, a Catholic high school in the city's north end, they spotted 15-year-old Kristen French walking briskly to her nearby home. They pulled into the parking lot of nearby Grace Lutheran Church and Homolka got out of the car, map in hand, pretending to need assistance. When French looked at the map Bernardo attacked from behind, brandishing a knife and forcing her into the front seat of their car. From the back seat, Homolka controlled the girl by pulling her hair.
French took the same route home every day, taking about 15 minutes to get home and care for her dog. Soon after she should have arrived, her parents became convinced that she met with foul play and notified police. Within 24 hours the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRP) assembled a team, searched French's route and found several witnesses who had seen the abduction from different locations (giving police a fairly-clear picture). French's shoe, recovered from the parking lot, underscored the seriousness of the abduction.
Over the Easter weekend Bernardo and Homolka videotaped themselves torturing, raping and sodomizing French, forcing her to drink large amounts of alcohol and submit to Bernardo. At his trial, Crown prosecutor Ray Houlahan said that Bernardo always intended to kill her because she was never blindfolded and could identify her captors. The following day, Bernardo and Homolka murdered French before going to the Homolkas' for Easter dinner. Homolka testified at her trial that Bernardo strangled French for seven minutes while she watched. Bernardo said that Homolka beat French with a rubber mallet because she tried to escape, and French was strangled with a noose around her neck which was secured to a hope chest; Homolka then went to fix her hair.
French's nude body was found on April 30, 1992, in a ditch in Burlington, about 45 minutes from St. Catharines and a short distance from the cemetery where Mahaffy is buried. She had been washed, and her hair was cut off. Although it was thought that French's hair was removed as a trophy, Homolka testified that it was cut to impede identification.
Bernardo was tried for the murders of French and Mahaffy in 1995, and his trial included detailed testimony from Homolka and videotapes of the rapes. Bernardo testified that the deaths were accidental, later claiming that his wife was the actual killer. On September 1, 1995, Bernardo was convicted of a number of offences, including the two first-degree murders and two aggravated sexual assaults, and sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years. He was designated a dangerous offender, making him unlikely to ever be released.
Although Bernardo was kept in the segregation unit at Kingston Penitentiary for his own safety, he was attacked and harassed; he was punched in the face by another inmate when he returned from a shower in 1996. In June 1999, five convicts tried to storm his segregation range and a riot squad used gas to disperse them.
In 2006, Bernardo gave a prison interview suggesting that he had reformed and would make a good parole candidate. He became eligible to petition a jury to be allowed to apply for early parole in 2008 under the faint hope clause (since he committed multiple murders before the 1997 criminal-code amendment), but did not do so. In 2015, Bernardo became eligible (and applied) for day parole in Toronto. According to the victims' lawyer, Tim Danson, it is unlikely that Bernardo will ever be released from prison because of his dangerous offender status. In September 2013, he was moved from Kingston Penitentiary (which was closing) to Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ontario, where he is reportedly segregated from the other inmates.
He is currently serving a life sentence.