Infamous Canadian Couple Known As 'The Ken & Barbie Killers' Videotaped Their Crimes

Canadians Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka were arrested for slaying schoolgirls in the early ‘90s, including her teenage sister.

Side-by-side photos of Paul Bernardo with brown wavy hair and a trench coat and Karla Homolka with blond hair wearing a white shirt.

Paul Bernardo (l) and Karla Homolka (r) who are known as the Ken and Barbie Killers

Photo by: Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Ken and Barbie Killers: The Lost Murder Tapes")

Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Ken and Barbie Killers: The Lost Murder Tapes")

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Dubbed the “Ken & Barbie Killers” because of their good looks, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka became Canada’s most notorious couple after they were taken into custody for carrying out the early 1990s sex attacks and slayings of schoolgirls Leslie Mahaffy, 14, Kristen French, 15, and Homolka’s 15-year-old sister, Tammy.

In 1993, Homolka received a sentence of 12 years in prison after she struck a deal with prosecutors in exchange for testifying against Bernardo, who she claimed beat her into submission. She was convicted of two counts of manslaughter for her role in planning and carrying out the brutal crimes.

At Bernardo’s 1995 trial, videotapes were introduced into evidence that showed him sexually assaulting the three girls as well as a fourth identified in court as Jane Doe. He denied killing French and Mahaffy but admitted he kidnapped and raped the pair to satisfy his “out-of-control” sex life, the National Post reported. He was convicted of two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping, forcible confinement, and aggravated sexual assault, and one count of committing an indignity to a body. He was sentenced to up to life in prison, with a minimum of 25 years without parole.

The case has continued to make headlines across Canada and the world through the years.

Homolka marries and hides out in the Caribbean

Following her 2005 release from prison, Homolka, 51, married Thierry Bordelais, her former defense lawyer’s brother, and she changed her name to Leanne Bordelais. The couple spent almost a decade under the radar raising their three children together in Guadaloupe, a Caribbean island.

Homolka and her sister are connected to another infamous Canadian killer

In 2014, the public learned Homolka was back in Quebec, Canada, after a bizarre series of events forced her surviving sister to reveal her whereabouts, the Toronto Sun reported. Lori Homolka, who since 1996 was living under the assumed name Logan Valentini, testified at the murder trial of Luka Magnotta that in May 2012 investigators told her the confessed killer, who she had never met or had any ties to, sent one of four packages that held his victim Jun Lin’s severed hands and feet to an elementary school using her assumed name and real address as the parcel’s return address. “I didn’t know why I would be dragged into something again that had nothing to do with me,” Valentini testified, according to the newspaper, noting she just wanted to live her life, “quietly, and freely.”

Two of the parcels containing the grisly contents also listed the new address and alias of her sister, now known as Renee Bordelais, and Valentini was forced to confirm for the court the infamous ex-convict was back in Canada.

Homolka’s husband insists Canadians have nothing to fear

In 2016, the public learned Homolka and her family were living in Châteauguay, Quebec, after a reporter found her husband. At the time, Thierry Bordelais played down the public’s concern about his wife, saying, “If they are worried, all they have to do is move. We’re free, we’re in a free country. Has anything happened over the past ten years? So why are they worried? I don’t see why they are worried.”

In June 2021, Bernardo, 57, was denied his second bid for parole, CTV News reported. In statements, the parents of Bernardo’s teenage victims, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, beseeched officials to keep the killer locked up. “For those who say time heals, they don't know the excruciating pain that comes from such a horrific loss,” Donna and Doug French said, according to the television station. “Time doesn't heal the pain; the pain is a life sentence.”

Debbie Mahaffy told the court in her victim-impact statement: “Once again, Bernardo's desires are inflicted on us as he inserts himself into our lives again, forcing his horrors and terrifying memories upon us.”

Maureen Gauci, a hearing officer of the Parole Board of Canada, delivered the decision that Bernardo’s “understanding and insight remains limited” and he continued “to exhibit behaviors that are counter-productive to the development of insight.” Bernardo, she said, hadn’t “shown the risk of offending can be managed in the community.”

In the ID four-part series, Ken and Barbie Killers: The Lost Murder Tapes, the discovery of six tapes are examined. This evidence reveals the reality of the crimes and begs the question: was Karla another victim, or was she the puppet master behind it all? Stream the series now on Max.

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