Karla Homolka encountered a distressing problem shortly after she helped torture and kill Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy at the home she shared with Paul Bernardo in Port Dalhousie, Ont.
The house became haunted.
"I was very worried," Ms. Homolka discloses in a chilling, 1,048-page transcript released yesterday. "A lot of strange things were happening in my house. I kept hearing Paul call my name -- and he kept saying, no, he was not calling my name. Bangs were coming from the basement, which Paul heard as well as myself."
Ms. Homolka said she was so worried that she solicited advice from a psychic named Lori about how to exorcise the restless spirits. Lori suggested pouring ammonia down all the drains and then asking the spirits to leave the house. Ms. Homolka did so.
"I didn't really believe it, but I was ready to try anything. Plus, ammonia is good for cleaning drains, and that is how I rationalized it to Paul," the ever-practical Ms. Homolka said. And for a while, the exorcism seemed to work.
"For a short time, nothing seemed to happen," she related. "Then, noises started happening again and voices started happening again. And I want to stress that Paul heard the noises as well. It wasn't just me."
The haunting would soon become a moot issue. Ms. Homolka fled the house in late 1992, went into hiding and ultimately co-operated with police who were hot on the trail of the murder suspects. Based on her accounts, police arrested Mr. Bernardo that following February.
Released for the first time yesterday at the obstruction of justice trial of Ken Murray -- Mr. Bernardo's former lawyer -- the transcripts cover seven days of intense questioning of Ms. Homolka by Mr. Murray's co-counsel, Carolyn MacDonald.
The sessions took place in May and June of 1994 in the Kingston Prison for Women. They came almost a year after Ms. Homolka pleaded guilty to three counts of manslaughter, receiving a 12-year sentence in return for her promise to testify against Mr. Bernardo at his murder trial.
The transcripts offer a chilling journey through the mind of a woman who initially portrayed herself as a cowering victim of spousal abuse. In them, the 24-year-old woman describes her interest in the occult and her early family life, and provides some of the earliest details of how she and Mr. Bernardo mistreated their victims.
Some of the information is new, while some contains echoes of her testimony at Mr. Bernardo's trial. What all of it shares in common is a self-serving edge. Several months after the Prison For Women sessions, Mr. Murray handed over videotapes he had retrieved from a hiding place at the Bernardo home. They revealed Ms. Homolka to have been an enthusiastic participant in the abuse of Kristen, Leslie, her sister Tammy Homolka, and a victim who can be identified only as Jane Doe.
Ms. Homolka consistently minimized her own involvement in the crimes that took place at 57 Bayview Drive, often describing macabre events with a blood-curdling matter-of-factness. When talking of how Leslie's body was stuffed in the fruit cellar after her murder so the couple could entertain Ms. Homolka's parents, for instance, she said it was an easy date to remember.
"Well, it was Father's Day, first of all," she told Ms. MacDonald. "And there was a dead girl in my house, and my family there. I won't forget that."
Ms. Homolka also described the challenges of disposing of Leslie's clothing.
"Her shoes were burned as well," she volunteered.
"That must have stunk," Ms. MacDonald said.
"Yeah," Ms. Homolka replied.
"How long did it take for the shoes to burn?" Ms. MacDonald asked.
"I don't know," Ms. Homolka admonished her. "I wasn't sitting there watching them."
She was similarly nonchalant in describing the difficulty she had keeping track of how many concrete blocks Mr. Bernardo used to dispose of the body parts he severed from Leslie's corpse.
"Well, as I said, I know there were 10 body parts," Ms. Homolka related. "The media had said there were eight blocks, and I don't think they ever said how many body parts there were. I am probably confused about the number of body parts with the number of blocks. I was counting, going through my mind how many body parts and concrete. There were the two, um, calf portions of the leg, the two thighs, the torso, from the elbow to the hand, and then up here, and then the head. So that turned out to be 10."
Ms. Homolka insisted during questioning that she did everything Mr. Bernardo ordered her to do -- including luring Kristen into their car, guarding the victims with a mallet and assaulting one of them with a bottle -- because he had possession of a videotape showing Ms. Homolka having sex with her unconscious sister Tammy on Dec. 24, 1990. (Tammy died when she choked on her own vomit.)
"I chose the lesser of two evils," Ms. Homolka said. "Either live with him and die -- guaranteed -- or live away from him; live in fear and yet have a chance of survival. I figured: I'm out. I have a chance. It doesn't matter any more."
In a particularly dramatic sequence, Ms. MacDonald confronted Ms. Homolka with the fact that when she ultimately did flee the home, Mr. Bernardo did nothing in response.
"Do you find it kind of ironic that when you do leave, you press criminal charges and the sky didn't fall," Ms. MacDonald asked. "You're still here, and your family is still here?"
"Thank God for that," Ms. Homolka said. "As I told you before, that is not Paul's style to strike so quickly. He would wait until he would no longer be a prime suspect."
"So, you finally have the courage to leave this man, this monster, and you are fearful for your life because he might lie in wait and come and get you later -- but you immediately hire a matrimonial lawyer?"
"To get a divorce," Ms. Homolka said.
Ms. MacDonald said it was difficult to see why Ms. Homolka did not just let Mr. Bernardo die during a suicide attempt in which he overdosed on pills. Ms. Homolka's explanation was that she was "not the killing type."
"You wanted him out of your life so badly, but not enough to kill," Ms. MacDonald said. "And yet, you're willing to participate in killing with him so that you can't get him out of your life. Do you see the problem I am having understanding that?"
"No, I don't see the problem you have," Ms. Homolka replied. "I can't kill anybody."
"Don't you feel responsible for the death of your sister?" Ms. MacDonald asked.
"Yes, I do -- not entirely responsible, but I bear some responsibility," Ms. Homolka said.
Ms. MacDonald pointed out that in a statement to police some months earlier, Ms. Homolka had admitted to bearing most of the responsibility. How to explain the contradiction, Ms. Homolka was asked.
"Feelings change," Ms. Homolka said.
In the first few weeks after leaving 57 Bayview, Ms. Homolka lived with her aunt and uncle in the Toronto suburb of Brampton. She said she purged the killings from her mind, went to dance clubs and began a relationship with a man who knew nothing about her past.
Then, the police arrived.
"I was scared," she said. "I felt like my world was coming to an end. And in another way, I felt relieved that I was able to get everything that happened out in the open and not have to lie and hide anything any more."
Ms. MacDonald attempted to show this was a false front by confronting Ms. Homolka with her diary entries for the period. In it, she yearns for her old life -- minus Mr. Bernardo -- and looks forward to a brighter future.
"It is not totally forward-looking," Ms. Homolka said of the diary. She said the years of lying had destroyed her health and psychological well-being. "That's why I have an ulcer," she said. "That's why I was sick all the time. That's why I was underweight. That's why I threw up all the time."
"How do you keep all your lies straight?" Ms. MacDonald asked.
"There weren't that many of them, when it comes right down to it," Ms. Homolka assured her.
The transcripts reveal a self-confident woman who gave way to emotion only a couple of times during her hideous recollections.
As the discussion turned to Ms. Homolka's and Mr. Bernardo's sexual relations, Ms. Homolka said they were initially conventional and fun, but Mr. Bernardo was soon forcing her into unpleasantly kinky acts and ordering her to wear a dog collar.
She said that after Kristen was slain in 1992 and St. Catharines reeled from what had been done to a local girl, she kept her mouth shut. "I never brought it up," she said. "Because it was such a shock to the city, everybody was talking about -- my family included."
Ms. Homolka gave some new insight into Mr. Bernardo's twisted mind as well. In a reference to his having raped dozens of women in Scarborough, she said: "Paul used to say that his rape benefitted women because more attention was paid to sexual assault and, therefore, more rapists would be deterred and caught."
She said Mr. Bernardo also claimed that rape was not an act of violence. "Paul used to tell me he does not hate women. He loves women. He has maintained that rape was a sexual act, not an act of power."
For the first time, she also alleged that Mr. Bernardo once made her eat his feces -- a claim she repeated at his 1995 trial. Still, she told Ms. MacDonald, she retained some affection for him.
"I had feeling for him in the sense that I wished things could have worked out -- meaning that I wished he wasn't the way he was. I wished he hadn't raped those girls. I wished he hadn't murdered those girls. I wished we could have had a normal relationship."
Ms. Homolka also used Mr. Bernardo's purported psychic powers to help explain why she never told anyone about the hell she was living through.
"If I thought something, he would think of the same thing 10 or 20 minutes later -- and that scared me," she said.
"Did you ever discuss self-mutilation with [friends]" Ms. MacDonald asked. "Carving up your arms and pouring nail polish in?"
"No," Ms. Homolka said. "One time -- and this is going to sound worse than it was -- I took a safety pin and I just went like that, but it was a scratch and nothing more."
"You announced to a friend -- and I apologize that I cannot tell you who the source is at this point in time -- that you had a fantasy desire to cut up a girl and pour vinegar in the arms and play connect the dots?" Ms. MacDonald asked.
"Wrong," Ms. Homolka replied.
At one point in the interviews, Ms. Homolka said she had entertained the idea of writing a book and donating the proceeds to a battered women's cause of the Green Ribbon Task Force, which investigated the killings she helped commit.
"It will definitely be a book written by me," she assured Ms. MacDonald. "I don't trust anyone else to do the writing, and it will only be a story of the abuse I endured."