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Doesn't seem entirely credible
on 1 July 2012
This is not a book about Karla Homolka's Deal with the Devil or the rights and wrongs of the lenient prison sentence she served as a result of it but about where Homolka finds herself now, geographically, socially and emotionally.
I did find myself wondering whether the whole story wasn't just a fabrication, given the serendipity with which Todd claims to have chanced upon her in a remote part of Guadalupe. It seems unlikely that Homolka, now known as Leanne Bordelais, would advertise her presence in the area on her mailbox, especially since she is married to a man by the name of Thierry Bordelais. Wouldn't his name or the family name be on the mail box instead of just hers? It seems equally improbable that an older woman, sharing the same surname and residence and therefore in all likelihood a relative, would dutifully and without demur lead a complete stranger into Homolka's presence. Least likely of all is that Homolka, who with good reason regards journalists with hostility and suspicion, would acquiesce to an ad hoc interview that allegedly lasted two hours and for which she received neither payment nor assurances that it would not be followed by plane loads of journalists, or the simply curious, beating a path to her door. Homolka might be forgiven for being naïve at 17 but it scarcely seems likely, given her life experiences, that she would allow herself to be coaxed into a trap so easily now. Todd claims to have been researching a book about the experiences of offenders after their release from prison and it may well be that she uses the Homolka interview as material for that particular project, but as yet there is no sign of it appearing in print.
Be that as it may, if we give Paula Todd the benefit of the doubt and assume that the meeting took place as she describes, it would appear that Homolka's life today continues to be overshadowed by the murders she facilitated or committed. The revulsion and fascination she still evokes have forced her to live in seclusion and now another shadow hangs over her - that if she really is the mother of three children, she will, at some stage, have to tell her children about her past deeds and continuing notoriety, in the full knowledge that any version of events that she dresses up for their benefit is likely to be contradicted, at least in part, by the body of literature recording her role in the murders of three young women.
It is clear from Todd's book that she does not share Homolka's view of herself as a coerced and brainwashed participant in sexual torture and a mere witness to murder - `the expressions most frequently on her face were disdain and annoyance' - but even without seeing her through the prism of Todd's vision, the path Homolka has pursued in the years following her release from prison tells us a great deal about her steely will and forceful nature. No-one without a robust desire to realise their own personal ambitions would have placed themselves in the position she potentially has - that her own children may judge her every bit as harshly as the rest of the world and that they may equally be tainted by the vilification she seems unable to escape. If we choose to believe Todd's version of events, then Homolka remains the prisoner of her past, living far from home, in seclusion and presumably in reduced circumstances, keeping largely for herself the enigma of her once compulsive relationship with a psychopath and the spiral into psychopathic thinking and behaviour that even an intelligent and self-willed young woman from an intact family can fall prey to. This is a well-documented phenomenon but not one that Todd explores in this short and - to my mind at least - not entirely convincing but certainly readable text.