This past Thursday, (July 3, 2014) I awoke to what can only be described as a squall, a minor atmospheric disturbance. In a world consistently assaulted by media frenzies – days-long torrential blah blah, blah blah fests, talking heads and hurricane-force chattering clashes, tsunamis of crazy opinions offered by individuals with questionable intellectual pedigree, this was nothing. A momentarily, strictly regional thunderstorm.
A few examples:
According to the tabloid press, from which all other outlets culled their information, a 30-year old, well-educated woman from a caring family in London, Ontario had become infatuated with convicted sex killer Paul Bernardo, currently in residence in an 8′ x 10′ cell at the Millhaven Institution near Kingston, On. She has told friends they intend to marry and someone leaked the information.
This I learned in an email from London, On. talk show radio host Craig Needles inviting me to add my two cents to the cacophony. It would be impolite not to respond so I did. You can review my comments in the last half of an article posted on the radio station’s web page entitled “Government Unable to Prohibit Paul Bernardo From Communicating With London Bride-to-Be” (and possibly hear) at this link: http://www.am980.ca/2014/07/04/21952/
I also concurrently received an email from Chris, a blind reader of one of my two books on the case, that began with the expressive acronym “WTF?”
“Quite simply … WTF??
Will the Bernardo/Humolka case just never go away?
Is Bernardo actually capable of manipulating this woman in London, or is she just sick in the head, or perhaps both?
I’m sure you hear this a lot but ..
I came of age during the whole sordiTd affair in the early 90’s. I’ve since listened to your second book, a Pact with the Devil, thanks to CNIB having recorded it for us blind folks.”
To answer Chris’s second question, probably not. Not as long as there is a tabloid press that believes they are our eyes and ears on the vanguard and it is our right “to know”, whether we want to or not.
Certainly not as long as the tabloid-tempered are not jailed like one of their most fierce and fearless was for his part in the infamous British phone hackinig scandal.
Andy Coulson was the editor of Rupert Murdoch’s then 168-year-old sleaze fest “News of the World” and the former media chief for British Prime Minister David Cameron who sagely said upon learning of his friend’s conviction: “What this says is that it’s right that justice should be done and that no one is above the law” blah blah… http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/07/04/britain-hacking-idINKBN0F90S420140704
Not as long as there are misogynistic ministers of Justice who are completely ignorant of the internal machinations of those hopelessly conflicted institutions of punishment and rehabilitation in his purview such as our own Peter MacKay.
In the article in which I am quoted on AM980’s web page they also quote him: “We can’t stop the person from communicating through letters and emails unless there is something that is seen as harassing or criminal in it’s intent.”
The fact is no prisoner in Canada is allowed to communicate through email. Here is the government rule: http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/plcy/cdshtm/085-cde-eng.shtml. All MacKay had to do was google it.
In fact, it is so difficult to communicate with anyone on the “inside” that friends and family of the incarcerated have developed a very active and well subscribed list-serve to share their experiences, frustrations and best practices for staying in touch with loved ones in prison: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/archive/index.php/f-1403.html
If Peter MacKay does not know such stuff, what, I ask, could he possibly do about anything except (like every politician who has ever lived), gratuitously pander to memories of innocence once again: Right after he demonstrates he knows nothing about the subject at hand “the minister says whenever he hears Bernardo’s name, he thinks about his victims”! Blah blah blah.
When criticized the media always say it only covers stories that it knows its readers/listeners/views want. It never says how it knows.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone wants this much coverage of something that is simultaneously irrelevant, rude, absurd, sad and yesterday’s news.
If no one could do anything about Karla Homolka’s criminally light sentence, her release from jail in 2005 – absolutely free and clear – (including that disgraced former Attorney General for Ontario, Michael Bryant who spent millions of the taxpayers hard earned dollars aggrandizing himself in what the media portrayed as a valiant effort to impose Section 810 restrictions on her release – an order that, being an allegedly “brilliant” lawyer himself, he well knew would never be granted)
What’s to be done about this young woman who wants to be Bernardo’s 2nd wife? Reading the media that’s apparently what everyone wants to know.
The media reports are all veiled interrogatories about her sanity and ascribe to her what the prosecutors used as a subterfuge for the real reason they made such an unconscionable deal with Bernardo’s first wife oh so long ago; to wit, Karla was under the hypnotic spell of a Svengali-like sadistic sex killer and “forced” to do what she did much like this “fragile” young woman, “seduced” as she had been, by this pasty unattractive man who is kept locked up in a closet virtually 24/7 and with whom it is very difficult to communicate.
No matter. One “journalist” describes Bernardo as “a singular type of character. Notorious for his cunning and charisma… ” Once again, by whom?
This characterization of Bernardo is one put forward by the authorities after Bernardo’s arrest and during his trial in an attempt to excuse their inability to catch him and at the very least prevent the deaths of three young women and the rapes of a dozen more. It is not how anyone in possession of his biographical details or any of the actual facts of the case see the man. That portrait is one of a callow, feckless, clumsy, surprisingly stupid, cruel sexual deviate who also happens to be, literally and figuratively, a bastard.
Regardless of the prisoner’s character flaws, they do not speak to the young woman’s character or motives. There are all kinds of prison groupies and by no means are most sad or mad.
As that old warhorse of the True Crime genre Clifford L. Linedecker wrote in the introduction to his 1993 mass market paperback Prison Groupies:
“Even though many of the jailhouse Lotharios are drawn from a devil’s roster of some of the most ruthless and sadistic sex thrill killers in America, the women they attract are as likely to be alluring, desirable beauties with intelligence and exciting careers… “
Linedecker goes on to back up this statement with detailed stories that include the exploits of Danielle Steele, the fabulously wealthy, multi-million-copy selling author of potboiler romances and her coupling with cons, the female lead in Stanley Kubrick’s Hollywood blockbuster “Lolita,” Sue Lyon, and the incarcerated object of her affections, and Mary Evans who was “the beautiful, bright, and educated daughter of a socially prominent and loving well-to-do family.”
Remember Mary Evans?
In the early ’80s Mary was a promising young criminal lawyer practicing in Knoxville, Tennessee. She was set to defend a harden criminal named William Timothy Kirk against multiple murder charges. Rather than do that she helped him escape – at gunpoint – and then went with him – four days before his trial. This stunt triggered one of the most highly publicized and substantial manhunts in the history of the South.
Linedecker’s book documents 20 real-life cases to reinforce and illustrate his point. There are a surprising number of Paul Bernardo types, i.e. “the most ruthless and sadistic sex thrill killers” alive. After all, if they are alive (some aren’t they lived in Texas and got the needle) they can get married, go to the tuck shop once a week, sit in the cells, occasionally make a phone call, read whatever they can get their hands on – not much. That’s about it.
But one hardly need go back to the early ’90s for such documentation and insight. Oprah did an hour-long television exploration on the subject circa 2010. http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Prison-Weddings
It occured to me that I should offer Bernardo’s new paramour a copy of Invisible Darkness: The Horrifying Case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. It is the definitive work on the case. And exhaustive. Don’t take my word for it. Check the court records. Over the almost ten years I was unsuccessfully prosecuted for breaching court oders and publication bans, it was “proven beyond a shadow of a doubt” to be the most comprehensive and well-documented account of Paul and Karla’s lives, pre- and post-marriage and their crimes. (All kinds of readers who have posted reviews on various web pages have warned that it’s not for “the faint of heart” or the “squimish”.) Surely, it would turn this young woman off Paul Bernardo?
Or would it?
She might misread it, as so many have.
Even though the prosecutor forcefully pointed out during the Bernardo trial in ’95 that regardless of who actually “took their breath” (referring to Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French) both Paul and Karla were equally guilty of first degree murder. Full stop.
Although the official story is the one that has held the most sway, i.e. Karla was suffering from Battered Spouse Syndrome and was the “compliant victim of a sexual sadist” suffering from PTSD and one still hears “if only they had discovered the videotape evidence sooner…” Invisible Darkness portrays Karla as the managing and motivating partner and documents the fact that no one died before they moved in together. And videotape had nothing to do with her deals.
(Also, I have actually had the temerity to point out that no one got raped until after they met in 1987, a fact that some people, particularly police people, vehemently disagree.)
Further, there is very compelling evidence that Karla was the one that actually took their victims’ breaths, indisputably in the case of her younger sister, a murder for which no one has ever been tried. (I explained why not in both books but most people, even the few who have actually read the books, can’t seem to grasp.)
What if this… what should I call it – “confusion”- or “interpretation” – is sufficient to drive her into matrimony, thinking. “if Karla made him do it then I can make him into a good God-fearing Christian.” Rather than firmly and unequivocally dissuade her from going through with it? what if it has the exact opposite effect? Everyone knows the road to Perdition is paved with the best of intentions. I would feel badly. I think I’ll just keep my mouth shut.