Convicted Canadian serial killer Karla Homolka made international headlines last week when it was reported that she had made volunteering at her children’s elementary school one of her post-prison pastimes. Homolka served just 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter charges associated with the rape and murder of three young teenage girls – Kristen French, Leslie Mahaffy, and Tammy Homolka, Karla’s own younger sister. Karla Homolka committed the unthinkable crimes alongside her then-husband Paul Bernardo, who is currently serving life in prison for his crimes.
As part of her plea deal, Karla Homolka testified against her husband, and during that testimony, she significantly downplayed her role in the early 1990s murders that earned Homolka and Bernardo the title “The Ken and Barbie Killers.” Videotaped evidence would later surface that indicated that Homolka played a much more active role in the crimes than she admitted to at trial.
Karla Homolka was incarcerated in 1993 after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter. She was released in 2005 after serving her entire prison sentence and would go on to marry her attorney’s brother, Thierry Bordelais (she divorced Paul Bernardo during her prison stint). Upon her release from custody, Karla Homolka was greeted with widespread protests, with many of her critics (including family members of her young victims) believing that she’d gotten away with murder. Homolka attempted to keep a low profile by changing her name several times (her most recent assumed name is Leanne Teale) and relocating repeatedly, at one point even living in the Caribbean. She and her new husband would go on to have three children.
Currently, Karla Homolka and her family are reportedly living in a suburb of Montreal, her young children attending Greaves Adventist Academy, a private Christian school run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Despite her notoriety, Homolka had managed to stay off the media radar for quite some time, until parents began to realize that Karla Homolka had been volunteering at the school and interacting with their children. And that the school was aware of her violent, murderous past.
In March, an unidentified “concerned citizen” began handing out leaflets at the school, informing parents that the woman who had brought her dog for show and tell, taught children how to knit, and even supervised a kindergarten field trip was none other than Karla Homolka, one of the most infamous serial killers in Canadian history. Not surprisingly, the shocked parents immediately began expressing their outrage.
“We don’t want her here. How would you feel knowing that your child is interacting with a person who is a serial killer? It’s not right. It’s really unacceptable. My daughter was playing with the dog of Karla Homolka, and I was right next to her, but I didn’t know who she was.”
According to a spokesperson for Greaves Adventist Academy, Karla Homolka was never allowed to be alone with any children. The school attempted to further mitigate the anger of parents by stating that Homolka wasn’t a regular volunteer, which would have required that she undergo a background check. Even so, the story was picked up by several local media outlets, including The Star, and it was even reported that several parents who complained to the school about Karla Homolka’s presence were told to find a new school for their children in the fall.
“She is not a regular volunteer and can never be alone with any children, either in school or churches.”
Now, days after the Karla Homolka volunteer scandal exploded into an international drama, the school has changed its tune. As The Toronto Sun reports, Greaves Adventist Academy didn’t mention Homolka by name in a recently released statement reportedly meant to quell the fears of concerned parents. However, the school did say in a Thursday statement that nobody with a criminal record will be allowed to volunteer in any capacity on school grounds.
“[Greaves Adventist Academy] heard and listened to the concerns of parents and members of the community uncomfortable with recent reports in the media.”
According to the Christian elementary school, it will be issuing no further statements or comments regarding the Karla Homolka situation.
While Greaves Adventist Academy has finally opted to take action regarding the presence of convicted serial killer Karla Homolka on campus months after parents began complaining about her volunteer efforts, some believe that the school’s response was too little, too late, including members of the French and Mahaffy families, whose teenage girls were brutally sexually assaulted and murdered with Homolka’s assistance.
According to Tim Danson, an attorney for the families, Karla Homolka’s current “normal life” is nothing less than a “kick in the gut” for her victim’s families. What’s more, Danson claims that, in his opinion at least, Homolka was never rehabilitated and has no business being around children at all.
“These are joys the French and Mahaffy families will never enjoy because of Karla Homolka’s participation with Paul Bernardo to murder their children.”
What do you think about Karla Homolka volunteering at an elementary school? Should a private Christian school be able to make its own rules to the point that the identity of a convicted serial killer is hidden from parents? Does Karla Homolka deserve a fresh start now that she has “paid her debt” to society? Was the Greaves Adventist Academy’s response to parents’ concerns adequate and timely? Let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Frank Gunn/AP Images]