The other night, I downloaded Paula Todd’s e-book: “Finding Karla”. Call it morbid curiosity, or like when you slow down to look at the detritus that remains after a multiple car crash, but I wanted to know.
I wanted to know how a woman who actively participated in the torture, rape and murder of three young women and then pulled off the deal of the century by getting only 12 years in jail for those crimes, was living her life.
I had read snippets over the years. Some said she had moved toEurope. Some said a quiet, beachside life in the Caribbean. Others mentioned that she was a teacher. To quote Ms. Todd: “If there was a chance she was teaching children, many Canadians would want to know. And the only way to know was to find her.”
So while Paula Todd was being criticized online for opening up an old wound, or meddling where she didn’t belong, I was downloading the book. I wanted to read what she found out, for myself. People who feel that Karla Homolka should be left alone because she has served her time are, to me, plain wrong. She didn’t serve her time. She served a little time and because of a very wily plea bargain, she is free from jail. Not free to live a carefree life, but free. Her victims, however, are not free. Nor are the families who live without them but do have to live with the memories of what happened to them.
With the astute nature of a legal mind combined with her journalism background, Paula dug and found her. Leanne Bordelais, or as we knew her: Karla Homolka. Not living in the lap of luxury but rather in a backwater apartment block in rural Guadeloupe. So it was the Caribbean, after all. Just not the jazzy, flashy, pretty side that we all think of when we think of such a place.
I read the book in one sitting and was completely entranced by Todd’s bravery. Flying to Guadeloupe on a whim, travelling the countryside chasing a few thin leads and then, by a total coincidence, walking into a small apartment and finding herself face to face with Karla Homolka. Riveting to read. At the end of the book, I was left of two minds.
On the one hand, I would love for Karla’s life to become a living hell because of this book. I would love for her to have to run for her life, scared and tortured. A little of what her victims endured.
On the other hand, I feel wretched for her three children. What a horrible thing they are going to find out one day. And make no mistake: they will find out. According to Todd, the children seem happy and well-adjusted, living a quiet life with their mother and father (Thierry Bordelais is the brother of Karla’s lawyer, Sylvie Bordelais).
As I read the book, I wonder why she had them, knowing the life she was going to end up leading? While free from actual jail, Karla Homolka will always live in a virtual prison, in fear of who might be watching her. And while that gives me some satisfaction, I am sure that one day her kids will become innocent casualties of her world.
As Todd leaves in a taxi, after her encounter with Homolka, she notes: “Darkness deepens as we drive through the cooling streets. The music of a thousand night frogs envelops us. Tammy, Leslie and Kristen are in my head. They are dead. Their families walk wounded. Their killer has moved on, from manslaughter to motherhood.” Well said.