Documentary lays bare story of 'Ken and Barbie Killers' who brutally raped and murdered women

20 mins read


A chilling documentary has laid bare the horrific story of Canada’s Ken and Barbie Killers – a couple who brutally raped and murdered multiple teen girls in the early ’90s.

Together, ‘young and beautiful’ couple Paul Bernardo, now 58, and Karla Homolka, now 52, kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed three young women – including Karla’s little sister – in one of the most ‘sensational and sinister cases in Canadian history.’

After they got caught, Karla claimed that she had been forced to help Paul commit the gruesome crimes, and that she too was a victim.

She was offered a plea deal from prosecutors in exchange for her testimony against her then-husband; however, after the police found a series of video tapes that were taken while the offenses were being committed – which told a completely different story – the case, and Karla’s sentence, swept the nation, becoming one of the most controversial rulings Canada has ever seen. 

A chilling documentary has laid bare the horrific story of Canada's Ken and Barbie Killers - a couple who brutally raped and murdered multiple teen girls in the early'90s

A chilling documentary has laid bare the horrific story of Canada’s Ken and Barbie Killers – a couple who brutally raped and murdered multiple teen girls in the early ’90s

Together,'young and beautiful' couple Paul Bernardo, now 58, and Karla Homolka, now 52, kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed three young women - in one of the most'sensational and sinister cases in Canadian history'

Together, ‘young and beautiful’ couple Paul Bernardo, now 58, and Karla Homolka, now 52, kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed three young women – in one of the most ‘sensational and sinister cases in Canadian history’

After they got caught, Karla (pictured) claimed she had been forced to help Paul commit the gruesome crimes, and that she too was a victim. She was offered a plea deal from prosecutors in exchange for her testimony against her then-husband

After they got caught, Karla claimed she had been forced to help Paul (pictured) commit the gruesome crimes, and that she too was a victim. She was offered a plea deal from prosecutors in exchange for her testimony against her then-husband

After they got caught, Karla (left) claimed she had been forced to help Paul (right) commit the gruesome crimes, and that she too was a victim. She was offered a plea deal from prosecutors in exchange for her testimony against her then-husband

After the police found a series of video tapes that were taken while the offenses were being committed - which told a different story - the case, and Karla's sentence, became one of the most controversial rulings Canada has ever seen. Karla is pictured

After the police found a series of video tapes that were taken while the offenses were being committed – which told a different story – the case, and Karla’s sentence, became one of the most controversial rulings Canada has ever seen. Karla is pictured

Now, a documentary shared by Real Women/Real Stories has lifted a lid on the couple’s horrendous actions – and has re-raised the question of whether or not Karla deserved to serve more time.

Now, a documentary shared by Real Women/Real Stories has lifted a lid on the couple's horrendous actions - and has re-raised the question of whether or not Karla deserved to serve more time. Paul and Karla are seen at their wedding

Now, a documentary shared by Real Women/Real Stories has lifted a lid on the couple’s horrendous actions – and has re-raised the question of whether or not Karla deserved to serve more time. Paul and Karla are seen at their wedding

The pair met when Karla, originally from St. Catharines, Ontario, was just 17 years old and Paul, from the Scarborough area of Toronto, was 23. She was still in high school but was working at a pet store part time and attended a convention on behalf of the shop in Paul’s town.

Paul, who was a University of Toronto student at the time, studying to be an accountant, saw her at her hotel restaurant, it was said to be ‘love at first sight.’

‘There was electricity in the air, it was love at first sight,’ Alan Cairns, author of Deadly Innocence, a book about their murders, said in the documentary. ‘They called it a match made in heaven, but it was clearly a match made in Hell.’

The two quickly fell in love – but while their romance was blossoming, Paul was secretly attacking women across southern Ontario. 

According to the doc, Paul had a difficult childhood; his mother was verbally abusive and at age 16, he found out that his father wasn’t actually his biological dad – something that’s been said to have greatly effected him.

As a teen, it was reported that he started looking through his female neighbors’ windows while they undressed. But despite his inappropriate behavior behind closed doors, Paul was able to keep it a secret from everyone around him.

The pair met when Karla, originally from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, was just 17 years old and Paul, from the Scarborough area of Toronto, was 23. Karla is seen as a teen

The pair met when Karla, originally from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, was just 17 years old and Paul, from the Scarborough area of Toronto, was 23. Karla is seen as a teen

According to the doc, Paul (pictured) had a difficult childhood; his mother was verbally abusive and at age 16, he found out that his father wasn't actually his biological dad - something that's been said to have greatly effected him

According to the doc, Paul had a difficult childhood; his mother was verbally abusive and at age 16, he found out that his father (pictured) wasn't actually his biological dad - something that's been said to have greatly effected him

According to the doc, Paul (left) had a difficult childhood; his mother was verbally abusive and at age 16, he found out that his father (right) wasn’t actually his biological dad – something that’s been said to have greatly effected him

Throughout late 1987 and early 1988, over a 13-month period, Paul attacked 11 different women across Scarborough. He would grab them at night, and sexually assault them from behind so they couldn't see his face

Throughout late 1987 and early 1988, over a 13-month period, Paul attacked 11 different women across Scarborough. He would grab them at night, and sexually assault them from behind so they couldn’t see his face

‘He seemed so normal. This is common in psychopathic personalities, they are often very charming,’ Frank Davey, author of Karla’s Web explained in the documentary.

During his high school and college years, he had several girlfriends who all later accused him of becoming ‘abusive.’ 

‘He became fixated on violence towards women and conquering women,’ Alan added. 

Throughout late 1987 and early 1988, over a 13-month period, 11 different women across Scarborough were attacked by a man who had become known as the Scarborough Rapist. He would grab them at night, and sexually assault them from behind so they couldn’t see his face.

‘This was a very dangerous sub-type of rapist. He was very anger-based, perhaps even sadistic in nature,’ Gregg McCrary, former FBI profiler who worked on the case, revealed.

‘Not only were these women being brutalized, but we felt we were on the verge of it moving into the line of homicide.’

Eventually, one of the women was able to get a look at her attacker’s face and she helped the police create a composite sketch – which was released to the public.

Eventually, one of the woman was able to get a look at her attacker's face and she helped the police create a composite sketch (pictured). Many of Paul's friends noticed a resemblance between him and the sketch - and they contacted authorities

Eventually, one of the woman was able to get a look at her attacker's face and she helped the police create a composite sketch. Many of Paul's friends noticed a resemblance between him (pictured) and the sketch - and they contacted authorities

Eventually, one of the woman was able to get a look at her attacker’s face and she helped the police create a composite sketch (left). Many of Paul’s friends noticed a resemblance between him (right) and the sketch – and they contacted authorities

The police then took some of his DNA and sent it away for testing - but it would unfortunately take two more years for them to get the results back. During this time, Paul and Karla were falling hard for one another

The police then took some of his DNA and sent it away for testing – but it would unfortunately take two more years for them to get the results back. During this time, Paul and Karla were falling hard for one another

Karla soon started to learn about her fiancé's sadistic sexual deviations, and according to the documentary, two days before Christmas in 1990, she agreed to help him drug her then-15-year-old sister, Tammy (seen), so that he could have sex with her

Karla soon started to learn about her fiancé’s sadistic sexual deviations, and according to the documentary, two days before Christmas in 1990, she agreed to help him drug her then-15-year-old sister, Tammy (seen), so that he could have sex with her

Immediately, many of Paul’s friends noticed a resemblance between him and the sketch – and they contacted authorities, who brought Paul in for questioning. The police then took some of his DNA and sent it away for testing – but it would unfortunately take two more years for them to get the results back.

The pair laced Tammy's drink with sleeping pills; Paul allegedly raped the teenager while Karla held her down, and he then ordered Karla to rape her too - while he video taping the entire thing

The pair laced Tammy’s drink with sleeping pills; Paul allegedly raped the teenager while Karla held her down, and he then ordered Karla to rape her too – while he video taping the entire thing

During this time, Paul and Karla were falling hard for one another. He then decided to move from Scarborough to St. Catharines, where she lived, and in December of 1989, the two got engaged during a romantic trip to Niagara Falls. 

Karla soon started to learn about her fiancé’s sadistic sexual deviations, and according to the documentary, two days before Christmas in 1990, she agreed to help him drug her then-15-year-old sister, Tammy, so that he could have sex with her.

Together, the pair laced Tammy’s drink with sleeping pills. Paul allegedly raped the teenager while Karla held her down, and he then ordered Karla to rape her too – while he video taping the entire thing.

Afterwards, Tammy began to vomit and she tragically choked on her own throw up, resulting in her suffocating to death.

Paul and Karla quickly called 911, claiming that she had passed out from drinking. She was pronounced dead at the hospital, and officials concluded that she had died of natural causes.

On June 15, 1991, just days before their wedding, Paul woke Karla up in the middle of the night with a present – a young girl he had kidnapped. 

Paul had taken 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy from the backyard of her home in Burlington, Canada, and had planned to keep her as his sex slave.

Afterwards, Tammy began to vomit and she tragically choked on her own throw up, resulting in her suffocating to death. Officials concluded that she had died of natural causes

Afterwards, Tammy began to vomit and she tragically choked on her own throw up, resulting in her suffocating to death. Officials concluded that she had died of natural causes

On June 15, 1991, just days before their wedding, Paul woke Karla up in the middle of the night with a present - a young girl he had kidnapped - 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy - who he planned to keep her as his sex slave

On June 15, 1991, just days before their wedding, Paul woke Karla up in the middle of the night with a present – a young girl he had kidnapped – 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy – who he planned to keep her as his sex slave

He, with with Karla's knowledge, held her captive for hours, repeatedly assaulting her and recording the attacks on video - but less than 24 hours later, she was strangled to death. Paul and Karla are pictured

He, with with Karla’s knowledge, held her captive for hours, repeatedly assaulting her and recording the attacks on video – but less than 24 hours later, she was strangled to death. Paul and Karla are pictured

He, with with Karla’s knowledge, held her captive for hours, repeatedly assaulting her and recording the attacks on video – but less than 24 hours later, she was strangled to death.

On April 16, 1991, the newlyweds abducted 15-year-old Kristen French while she was walking home from school. The couple kept Kristen in their home for days - raping, sodomizing, and beating her, while recording the assaults, before they killed her

On April 16, 1991, the newlyweds abducted 15-year-old Kristen French while she was walking home from school. The couple kept Kristen in their home for days – raping, sodomizing, and beating her, while recording the assaults, before they killed her

Two weeks later, on the day of Paul and Karla’s wedding, Leslie’s body was found chopped up into small pieces by fishermen at Lake Gibson.

According to people who knew them, the couple had an ‘intense obsession’ with each other.

‘It was a very destructive relationship. They fed into one another, and encouraged and supported one another in doing things that were unspeakable,’ Dr. Fred Berlin, a sexual disorder specialist at Johns Hopkins University, said in the documentary.

‘They were attractive, intelligent, in love. The idea that these were the bad guys and that they were capable of doing anything so vile is something that’s hard for us to comprehend.’

Alan added, ‘The interest in this case was not sparked by the brutality of the murders. It was the disbelief that such an attractive man and beautiful young girl could team up and be involved in something so bad. The American’s coined them Ken and Barbie.’ 

On April 16, 1991, the newlyweds abducted 15-year-old Kristen French while she was walking home from school. According to eyewitnesses, Karla asked the teen to come over to their car because they needed help with directions, when suddenly, Paul grabbed her and forced her into the vehicle. 

In January of 1993, however, Karla decided to leave Paul after he allegedly beat her with a flashlight, leaving her with two black eyes and a broken rib

In January of 1993, however, Karla decided to leave Paul after he allegedly beat her with a flashlight, leaving her with two black eyes and a broken rib

Around the same time, Paul's DNA sample - which had been collected two years earlier while police were investigating the Scarborough Rapist - was finally processed. He was arrested on February 17, 1993. He is seen on the day of his arrest

Around the same time, Paul’s DNA sample – which had been collected two years earlier while police were investigating the Scarborough Rapist – was finally processed. He was arrested on February 17, 1993. He is seen on the day of his arrest

Karla claimed Paul had made her participate in the gruesome killings against her will and agreed to testify against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. She was convicted on two counts of manslaughter and received a 12-year sentence

Karla claimed Paul had made her participate in the gruesome killings against her will and agreed to testify against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. She was convicted on two counts of manslaughter and received a 12-year sentence

Karla claimed Paul had made her participate in the gruesome killings against her will and agreed to testify against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. She was convicted on two counts of manslaughter and received a 12-year sentence

The couple kept Kristen in their home for days – raping, sodomizing, and beating her, while recording the assaults, before they eventually killed her. Her body was discovered in a ditch on the side of the road days later.

However, it wasn't until after she had been sentenced that police found the video tapes the couple had taken while committing the crimes, which showed her not only helping Paul in his acts, but also participating in some of them herself. Karla is seen in 2005

However, it wasn’t until after she had been sentenced that police found the video tapes the couple had taken while committing the crimes, which showed her not only helping Paul in his acts, but also participating in some of them herself. Karla is seen in 2005

In January of 1993, however, Karla decided to leave Paul after he allegedly beat her with a flashlight, leaving her with two black eyes and a broken rib. 

Around the same time, Paul’s DNA sample – which had been collected two years earlier while police were investigating the Scarborough Rapist – was finally processed.

The police soon started to link all the crimes together, and they brought Karla in for questioning, in the hopes that she’d turn on her ex-lover. 

Gregg said: ‘If we can drive a wedge between them there would likely be a falling out, and we would very much like to facilitate that.’

She eventually told the police what had happened – however, she claimed that Paul had made her participate in the gruesome killings against her will and agreed to testify against him in exchange for a reduced sentence for herself.

Karla was convicted on two counts of manslaughter and received a 12-year sentence. She filed for divorce from Paul soon after.

However, it wasn’t until after she had been sentenced that police found the video tapes the couple had taken while committing the crimes, which showed her not only helping Paul in his acts, but also participating in some of them herself; but at that point, it was too late.

‘As I see it, she was more of an accomplish in these crimes than a victim,’ Dr. Berlin said in the doc. 

After serving 12 years behind bars, Karla was released on July 5, 2005. She moved to Montreal where she got remarried and has since welcomed three kids. She is seen after her release

After serving 12 years behind bars, Karla was released on July 5, 2005. She moved to Montreal where she got remarried and has since welcomed three kids. She is seen after her release

She now lives a normal life out of the spotlight, but many people still feel she was given too light of a sentence

She now lives a normal life out of the spotlight, but many people still feel she was given too light of a sentence

On September 1, 1995, then-31-year-old Paul was found guilty of nine charges, including kidnapping, unlawful confinement, unlawful aggravated assault, and murder, and was sentenced to life in prison

On September 1, 1995, then-31-year-old Paul was found guilty of nine charges, including kidnapping, unlawful confinement, unlawful aggravated assault, and murder, and was sentenced to life in prison

‘Was Karla given too light of a sentence? Did she get off way too lightly on this thing? That’s certainly the opinion of a lot of folks,’ Gregg added. ‘I have my concern that she may be more psychopathic than Paul.’

Karla’s plea deal received severe scrutiny at the time, and was branded by the media as, ‘The deal with the devil.’

Paul was arrested on February 17, 1993 and charged with nine different counts, including kidnapping, unlawful confinement, unlawful aggravated assault, and murder. 

His trial began two years later – and Karla was the prosecutor’s key witness. She took to the stand, where she branded him as the mastermind behind the whole thing.

On September 1, 1995, then-31-year-old Paul was found guilty of all nine charges, and was sentenced to life in prison. 

After serving 12 years behind bars, Karla was released on July 5, 2005. She moved to Montreal where she got remarried and has since welcomed three kids.

She now lives a normal life out of the spotlight, but many people still feel she was given too light of a sentence.

‘All we can do now is hope she doesn’t harm anyone else,’ Gregg concluded in the doc.

As for Paul, he is still in prison, and was denied parole on June 22, 2021. 

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