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6/30/05-

Canadian Sex Killer to Go Free

Karla Homolka, reviled as one of Canada's most infamous criminals, could walk free as early as today.

Homolka, now 35, has finished a 12-year sentence for her role in the sexual assaults and slayings of two pubescent girls in the early 1990s and is set to be released between June 30 and July 5. Under the plea bargain, Homolka was not charged in the death of her sister, 15-year-old Tammy, who died in 1990 after choking on her own vomit when she was drugged and raped by Homolka and her husband.

Many in Canada believed she deserved to spend the rest of her life behind bars, but in a rush to get her to testify, the Canadian justice system agreed to the plea deal and reduced her sentence.

Now that her release is imminent, many Canadians fear the "bloodless blonde" will strike again and are demanding further punishment. Legal experts say the case is closed and Homolka has a right to move on with her life. Regardless, the case still has people wondering if Homolka was her husband's pawn or a cold-blooded killer.

"This is one of the most well-known, horrible cases in Canada," said Anthony Doob, a criminology professor at the University of Toronto. "People believe she got away with murder, literally."

Seeking an Anonymous Life

Meanwhile, Homolka — who has legally changed her name to Karla Leanne Teale — has said she fears for her life and has sought an injunction to prevent media from covering her impending release from prison.

"I believe some people wish to do the public a favor by killing me," Homolka said Tuesday in an affidavit that accompanied the injunction request.

Homolka said all she wants is to begin a new, but anonymous life.

"As far as I know, nothing has been done to safeguard my security after my release from prison, and the thought of being relentlessly pursued, hunted down and followed when I won't have any protection makes me fear for my life," she said in the affidavit.

Falling Under the Spell

Seventeen-year-old Homolka felt bored with high school boys, so when she met Paul Bernardo, 23, in 1987, she was swept off her feet. He was tall, good-looking and worked for an accounting firm near Toronto. Bernardo's charm won over Homolka's parents and he started spending more time in their home in St. Catharine's, near Niagara Falls. Homolka became obsessed with her new boyfriend, believing he was her ticket out of her hometown. Her parents liked the calming effect Bernardo was having on their daughter as she began to shed her rebellious teenage attitude, according to the Toronto Star.

But it turned out Homolka's Prince Charming was not all he seemed. He began to play rough sexual games with his young girlfriend, but Homolka stayed with her beau and loved the attention and gifts he lavished upon her. During their courtship, Bernardo also conducted a series of rapes that baffled local police.

According to court testimony, Bernardo escalated his demands on Homolka. She claimed Bernardo beat her until she agreed to drug and rape her sister, and said he would kill her and her family if she didn't.

On Christmas Eve in 1990, the couple drugged Tammy Homolka to knock her unconscious while they sexually assaulted her and videotaped the assault. The episode ended horrifically, with Tammy choking on her own vomit and dying.

Tammy's death was considered an accident at the time. The unintended killing seemed to push the pair toward more heinous crimes.

Target: Teenage Girls

Bernardo and Homolka decided to tie the knot in 1991. Her friends said that Homolka had lost her insouciant ways and was on edge all the time, according to the Toronto Star. And it wasn't just over the wedding menu or the flower arrangements.

Two weeks before their wedding day, Bernardo abducted, assaulted and strangled 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy. Soon after the wedding, police found Mahaffy's dismembered body encased in concrete, but interagency rivalries kept them from making much progress.

Bernardo had quit his accounting job and was working different jobs. He allegedly kept Homolka from attending university and his life centered more and more around alcohol and drugs.

A year after their wedding, the couple struck again. In April 1992, Kristen French, 15, disappeared. Homolka and Bernardo kidnapped the teenager and raped her day and night with a video camera rolling. Three days later, they dumped her body by the side of the road and drove off. In court, Homolka claimed that her ex-husband blackmailed her into helping him ensnare more victims, including raping yet another girl known as Jane Doe.

Bernardo never seemed to be satisfied. He became more violent with his wife and abused her constantly. It was harder for her to shrug off the bruises and one day in 1993 she showed up at her workplace with obvious injuries around her eyes. With pressure growing over progress in the police investigation and fearing for her own safety, Homolka told her story to police.

Deal with the Devil

Sensing that Homolka was the ticket to putting Bernardo away for life, the attorney general's office from Ontario province offered the 23-year-old the plea bargain and she agreed to testify against her husband. On the day the plea bargain was struck, Bernardo's lawyer accused Canadian authorities of "making a deal with the devil," according to the Globe and Mail.

She started her prison term 60 miles northeast of Montreal and divorced Bernardo. During his trial in 1995, she claimed she was under his spell and that he bullied her into the slayings.

But her attempts to portray herself as her husband's pawn were put into question when the videotapes of the girls' sex slayings were discovered and played during the trial. On tape, Homolka seemed to eagerly assist her spouse and enjoy herself.

Suddenly, public opinion turned and Homolka was as reviled as Bernardo, and the police investigation and the prosecution came under harsh criticism.

Homolka's testimony got her husband two life sentences for first-degree murder and sexual torture of the two teenage girls and he was also charged for the dozen rapes that occurred in the early 1990s. While she would one day be a free woman again, Bernardo would never get to ditch his Kingston penitentiary prison uniform.

Homolka served her full term with no early release or parole, a rarity in Canada. And at a hearing regarding her release in early June, a Quebec judge slapped a number of restrictions on her, saying this was an exceptional case. The court ruled that there were grounds to fear that Homolka could act again.

A psychiatrist testified that Homolka needed therapy and that she could return to criminal tendencies with the help of a partner. During a hearing, Judge Jean Beaulieu pointed out he was perplexed by Homolka's choice of pen pal; she had been writing to a male inmate Jean-Paul Gerbet, who was incarcerated for strangling his ex-girlfriend.

During her time in prison, Homolka learned French and got a college degree in psychology. She is slated to live in the French-speaking province of Quebec and not return to her native Ontario. But Homolka also may be allowed to seek residence in the United States, and she has said she would like to live in New York or Chicago.

Meanwhile, Bernardo, 40, has had "absolutely no interest" in initiating any contact with Homolka, his lawyer, Tony Bryant, told the Canadian Press.

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