Tuesday 25 July 2017

Serial killer who was jailed over the murder and rape of teenage girls now volunteers at her children's school

Authorities at the Montreal private school say they’re ‘aware’ of convicted killer Karla Homolka’s past and she is not left unsupervised with children

Bethan McKernan

A Canadian woman who was convicted over the rape and murder of two teenage girls in the 1990s - and the rape and death of her own sister - has been volunteering at the school her children now attend, it has emerged.

Karla Homolka, 47, was jailed for manslaughter in 1993 over her role in torturing, raping and killing schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy - as well as the rape and death of her own 15-year-old sister Taffy - with her then-husband Paul Bernardo.

Parents at Greaves Adventist Academy, a private Christian school in Montreal, noticed Homolka dropping off and picking up her children at the premises, but were alarmed to find out she had been spending time in classrooms, local media reported.

The school confirmed that Homolka was asked to come into school by a teacher for a show-and-tell class related to knitting, and on another occasion she brought in a dog. She also once volunteered to supervise nursery-age children on a school trip to the Montreal Science Centre.

“We don’t want her here,” one parent told City News. “How would you feel knowing that your child is interacting with a person who is a serial killer? It’s not right.”

The school board knew of Homolka’s past as all volunteers undergo criminal background checks, a statement said. She was never alone with students, the school stressed, and was not a regular volunteer.

“The Quebec Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the administration of Greaves Adventist Academy are committed to providing quality education and enriching learning experiences to its students,” the statement read. “While we work through the concerns stated by parents and other stakeholders, we welcome those associated with the school to contact the Quebec Conference office of Education.”

“The school board was fully aware of who she is. She is not a regular volunteer, and can never be alone with any children, either in school or churches,” Seventh-day Adventist Church spokesperson Stan Jensen said.

Homolka pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges as part of a plea bargain which saw her sentenced to 12 years in jail. She split from Bernardo while in prison and was released in 2005, after which she married her lawyer’s brother, and had a baby boy. To avoid media scrutiny the couple moved to The Antilles in the Caribbean, where they had two more children. It is believed the family moved back to Canada in 2016.

Her ex-husband Bernardo  remains in prison, although he has a parole hearing scheduled for later this year.

“It’s like getting a kick in the gut, when you realise she has all of these freedoms and she participated with Paul Bernardo in the brutal murder of their daughters,” Tim Danson, a lawyer representing Ms French and Ms Mahaffy’s families, told CTV News.

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