Monday, June 21, 2010

No Pardon for Karla

Canadian Parliament has just passed legislation to prevent Karla Homolka from receiving a pardon, as was previously the law in Canada.
The families of her victims must be so relieved.
Thanks to TheNag for letting me know.

John Myles Sharpe - "The Mornington Monster"

John Myles Sharpe
John Myles Sharpe is one of the most callous killers Melbourne has ever seen. The community at large could not help but wonder - how can a man who looks so "normal" not just kill his wife, but his unborn child and two year old daughter? And not just kill them, but brutally murder them.

Here's a synopsis:

John Sharpe had been with Anna Kemp for a decade. They had met at the Commonwealth Bank where they both worked. They married in 1994 and had a daughter in 2002, Gracie, who was born with hip dysplacia which Anna tenderly nursed her through. When Gracie was about 15 months old, Anna fell pregnant again.

John decided that he did not want another child - one was enough of a burden. Even though he had agreed to have more children, he began to resent Anna and the baby in her womb. Without Anna knowing (I hope) John started plotting her death. He bought a spear gun, even though he had never shown any interest in spear fishing. He test fired it once in the backyard. The next time he used it, it would be to kill his wife.
Anna, John and Gracie
On the night of March 23 2004, John waited until Anna was asleep, then used the spear gun to shoot her in the head a point blank range. This didn't kill her, so he had to shoot another spear into her head. He then waited at least four days, taking Gracie to playgroup and going about life as normal, before late one night getting the spear gun out again. This time it was Gracie's turn.

He shot his 20 month old daughter in the head with a spear gun at point blank range. It didn't kill her and she started screaming. He then got the spears he had removed from his wife's head and fired them into his daughter. This still did not kill her. The screaming must have been horrendous by now. He then PUT HIS FOOT ON HIS 20 MONTH OLD DAUGHTER'S CHEST SO HE COULD WRENCH A SPEAR OUT OF HER SKULL and fire it into her again. Finally Gracie was out of her misery.

He cut up Anna's body and chucked it in the rubbish, along with Gracie's body and some of their possessions. For three months he lied to his family, Anna's family and friends and the public. He claimed that Anna was pregnant to another man and had left him.

Anna and Gracie

Eventually he confessed, after media and police pressure. The police found Anna and Gracie at the Mornington Rubbish Dump.

A further motive emerged after Sharpe confessed. He had been accused of molesting children several times in the past, although there had never been enough evidence to charge him. There is speculation that Anna found him molesting Gracie. I doubt whether we will ever know if this was the case.

I hope that every second of every day, all that John Sharpe hears are the screams of pain from his daughter. Screams from pain that he caused.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Joran Van der Sloot: Narcissism at its worst

The traditional gift for a fifth anniversary is wood. Joran Van der Sloot celebrated the fifth anniversary of Natalee Holloway's disappearance by killing Stephany Flores Ramirez. Van der Sloot has never been charged with Natalee Holloway's death, although he has been arrested twice in relation to it. Now, five years on, it seems pretty obvious that he is responsible for her disappearance. Of course, it always did - the only issue was proving it.
Natalee Holloway

Natalee Holloway was an American college student on holiday on the Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005 when she crossed paths with some boys: Joran Van der Sloot and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. She was last seen by her friends at 1:30am, May 30th.  When Natalee failed to show up for her return flight home, the three boys were questioned, and said they dropped her off at her hotel. They all denied knowing what became of her after this. Despite extensive searches, she has not been found.

In the five years since Natalee’s disappearance, Joran Van der Sloot has been arrested twice in relation to this, but no charges have been laid. He has made various confessions during this time, always retracting them at a later date.
Joran Van der Sloot

Van der Sloot has led a privileged life. The son of a prominent lawyer, he has grown up in Caribbean paradise. His behaviour is indicative of a young man who has always been given everything he ever wanted. He does not know how to handle it when someone says “no” to him.

Van der Sloot has been accused of being involved in female trafficking in Denmark, sourcing women from Thailand to work as prostitutes. In one of his many “confessions” about the Holloway case Van der Sloot claimed to have sold Natalee to a mystery man. There is apparently a recording of Van der Sloot and his father discussing the Holloway case, with Van der Sloot Senior saying “But what you've done is pretty bad. Human trafficking is a serious crime” (Foxnews). Like so many of his “confessions” Van der Sloot later withdrew his claim that he sold Natalee.
Stephany Flores Ramirez

Stephany Flores Ramirez was found dead, strangled, in a Peruvian hotel room registered to Joran Van der Sloot May 30th 2010; five years to the day after Natalee disappeared.  CCTV showed Stephany with Van der Sloot in the hotel foyer and then accompanying him to his room.  After his arrest, Van der Sloot confessed to Peruvian police.  He stated that the reason he killed Stephany was that she looked at his laptop, read emails about the Holloway case, and then began questioning him. He even claimed she hit him, causing him to lose his temper and strangle her.  I find this highly doubtful. How many times have you gone back to a hotel room with a new friend and decided to check their emails at 5am? I think it is way more likely that Stephany made the fatal mistake of saying “no” to Van der Sloot.

Van der Sloot is a narcissist in the worst possible way. The fact that he feels the need to confess and retract repeatedly highlights his narcissistic need for attention. He is currently facing extortion charges in the US after blackmailing the Holloway family – “give me $250,000 and I will tell you where her body is”. He received a 10% part payment, but did not give them any useful information. What a surprise. He is playing with them for his own amusement and narcissistic need for attention. Some media outlets are questioning whether he used this money to pay for his trip to Peru, and therefore to kill another victim. I think he would have killed someone regardless of where he was – Stephany was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

One would like to think that Joran Van der Sloot will put an end to all the speculation and provide truthful information to investigators about the location of Natalee Holloway. I believe he will only do this if he feels that he will benefit from doing so. I hope, for the sake of the Holloway family, that he decides to do the right thing. We will all just have to wait and see.

Natalee Holloway Wikipedia
Joran Van der Sloot Wikipedia
Blogs for Natalee

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Teen Angst: Pauline and Juliet

Teen angst is not a new issue - ask Romeo and Juliet. I have been fascinated with teen killers since I saw the film Heavenly Creatures. Here is the tale of this classic teen homicide with a twist:

Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme

Regardless of movies about shiny rings and big boats, I personally believe that Heavenly Creatures is both Peter Jackson's best work as a director, and Kate Winslet's first shining moment as an actress. It tells the true story of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme.

Pauline and Juliet were teens in 1950's New Zealand. They developed a very enmeshed, intense friendship where they would write stories together and live in a fantasy world that they created. There are some hints that the friendship had developed into a romantic relationship, but this is mere speculation. An example of Pauline's poetry:
"There are living amongst two dutiful daughters
Of a man possesses two beautiful daughters.

The most glorious beings in creation...

And above us these goddesses reign on high.

"I worship the power of these lovely two

With that adoring love known to so few.

'Tis indeed a miracle, one must feel

That two such heavenly creatures are real....

And these two wonderful people are you and I."

Pauline's parents, especially her mother, became very concerned about the closeness of the friendship and tried to separate the girls. Fatal mistake.

Juliet was due to be moving to South Africa with her parents, and Pauline wanted to go with her, but her mother had explicitly forbidden it, so the girls came up with a plan. They would take Mrs Parker to a local National Park, hit her on the head with a brick, and it would look just like she had a bad fall. Pauline's father would be so upset, he would allow Pauline to travel with Juliet.
Like a lot of these plans, it did not go how they imagined.

They went with Mrs Parker to the park - Juliet had fetched half a brick from a pile and had put it inside a stocking and given it to Pauline- so far, so good. The plan was that Juliet would walk ahead, dropping a pretty pink stone on the path. When Honora Parker bent over to pick up the stone, the brick in her daughter's hand would end her life.

But Pauline's initial blows were tentative - enough to injure her mother, but not kill her. Juliet had to assist Pauline, and it became a horrible, bloody, messy death.

Above: The girls go to court (Juliet on the left).
The girls were charged the next day and both were eventually found guilty. One of the conditions of their sentences was that they were never allowed to contact each other again. That provision has always struck me as highlightling the futility of their act. These girls were in love with each other, whether it was romantic love or not. Yet their "black and white" way of looking at the world cost one woman her life and deprived the girls of what they wanted most in the world - each other.

Above: Pauline in the 1990's
As a Post Script, Pauline went on to live a very non-descript life in New Zealand. Apart from the fact that she is a devout Catholic, little else is known.

Above: Anne Perry in the 1990's

Juliet on the other hand changed her name to Anne Perry and is a very popular British crime author!!! She writes books set in Victorian England - personally I would prefer if she wrote more contemporary stories - like a story set in New Zealand in the 1950's.... Like Pauline she also turned to religion - in Juliet's case it was Mormonism. She has given one interview about the case, when Heavenly Creatures was first released. She stated that it was her loyalty to Pauline which motivated her in the attack, rather than any malice. Check out her website here.

I would recommend watching Heavenly Creatures.  While this story just happens to be my personal favourite example of teen angst, there is a new example of this type of crime all the time. Teens who want to be together, who see parents as an obstacle, so they remove them - literally.

In reality if they had enough patience to wait for a few years, they could be together. But teens don't think like that - and the black and white thinking results in dire consequences for everyone involved.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Paul Charles Denyer: The Frankston Serial Killer

Paul Denyer
There is something so much worse about crimes which happen in close proximity to where you live. The sense of closeness to the crime scene and the victims is so much more acute. This is how I feel about a series of murders which occurred in Frankston, a working class suburb of Melbourne.

Over a seven week period in 1993, three young women lost their lives and another older woman was lucky to escape with hers.

Elizabeth Stevens
The first victim was Elizabeth Stevens. A student, Elizabeth came home on the bus one rainy night. She didn't see the man hiding in the shadows as she got off the bus and made her way through the park to her aunt and uncle's house, where she was living. She was brutally attacked, with massive stab wounds and other knive wounds forming a criss-cross pattern. She was naked from the waist up, but had not been sexually abused.

Police canvassed the local area, knocking on doors and appealing through the media for any witnesses. Not only were they unable to find this killer, but soon he struck again.

This time the victim had some luck. Roszsa Toth, 41, was walking home from the train when she was violently attacked from behind. After fighting for her life, including biting the fingers of the attacker to the bone, Roszsa managed to escape. Initially the police thought that this attack may have been a mugging gone wrong, but it was quickly linked to the murder of Elizabeth Stevens.

 Debbie Fream

The third victim tore at the heart strings of the Melbourne community. Deborah Fream, 22, had given birth to her first child 10 days earlier. With a friend over for dinner, Debbie popped down to the local store to purchase a litre of milk. While she was in the store, her killer crept into the back seat of her car. Her body was found in a cow pasture a few kilometers away. She had been stabbed 24 times, but had not been sexually assaulted. The thought that a young mum could be taken from her local community so brazenly had the whole suburb of Frankston terrified. The streets were deserted at night. But worse was to come.

Natalie Russell

Natalie Russell was a 17 year old school girl, walking home from school along a popular short cut. It was a bright, sunny afternoon, and Natalie was in her school uniform. As she walked along this path a man crept out from behind a cut he had made in a chain-link fence. He grabbed her from behind and dragged her back through the fence before any of her school friends noticed. Her body was found later that night. She had been stabbed repeatedly and her throat had been cut. She had not been sexually assaulted.

But finally the killer had made a mistake: a piece of skin, not from Natalie, was found near her neck wound - probably the killer had cut himself during the attack. His car was also spotted, by an observant police officer, in the area at the time Natalie went missing. The officer had written down the registration of the car as it had no number plates. It was this information which lead to the arrest of Paul Denyer.

When police questioned Denyer he had cuts on his hands which would be congruent with the skin found at the scene. He claimed he had cut his hand on the fan of his car. Whilst waiting with a police officer, he noticed the crucifix around the officer's neck. This sight led to Denyer breaking down and confessing. He talked for days, and took police to the crime scenes to help find victim's wallets and reconstruct the crimes. He appeared to enjoy this process immensely.

POLICE: Can you explain why we have women victims?

DENYER: I just hate them.

POLICE: I beg your pardon.

DENYER: I hate them.

POLICE: Those particular girls or women in general?

DENYER: General.

Theorists and profilers indicate that one of the precursers to murder is cruety to animals. Paul Denyer fits this theory very well - he had an extensive history of animal cruelty and murder, killing a family kitten when he was 10 years old, disemboweling it and hanging it from a tree. Instead of playing with the usual things that would occupy a boy of his age, he grew up fascinated with his collection of knives and clubs and home-made slingshot-guns that fired pebbles or ball bearings. His murderous intentions started at an early age when he regularly dissected his sister's teddy bears with a homemade knife. He also killed his neighbours cat and her litter of kittens, in an extremely grotesque and bloody manner, only shortly before the murders, writing threatening messages on the walls in the cat's blood. He was obsessed with violent movies which he watched over and over. He told police that from the time he was 14, he knew he would kill, he was just waiting for "the silent alarm" to go off.

I have always wondered whether, because of his history, Paul Denyer could have been prevented from reaching the stage of serial killer, but realistically the answer is most likely "no".

Denyer in prison.
Paul Denyer recently applied to the prison system for permission to get a sex change operation. His request was denied.  It's difficult to know if this request was due to genuine gender dysphoria, or to serve some other purpose.


Crime Library


Sunday, June 6, 2010

When relationships go bad.

Earlier this week Melbourne was horrified by a public display of domestic violence. 

A woman who was stabbed and set on fire at Bayswater in Melbourne's south-east on Tuesday morning has died in hospital.(Link)

Police say a man and a woman were seen arguing about 8:30am (AEST) at a petrol station before the woman was stabbed and the car was set alight.

A two-hour standoff followed between the man and police in a nearby church yard.

Capsicum spray and a non-lethal weapon were used to arrest the man, who is now under police guard in hospital.

The woman died yesterday about 6:00pm (AEST) in the Alfred Hospital after suffering burns to 100 per cent of her body.

Horrified onlookers earlier spoke about how they tried in vain to help the woman, but were prevented from doing so by a man wielding a knife.

Truck driver Beau Fleming heard an explosion at the petrol station on the Mountain Highway and says he then ran over and saw a car on fire, with a woman inside.

"It was completely engulfed. She was completely engulfed. There was just black smoke pouring out from underneath the servo," he said.

"I was just trying to get her away because we didn't know if they had shut the valves off to the pumps or anything."

Mr Fleming says he grabbed an extinguisher so he could help put the fire out.

He told Fairfax radio there was a man preventing bystanders from going near the car.

"There was of lots of other stuff going on... at this stage she was still rolling around, laying near the car," he said.

"Then one of the other people on the scene, he went running over and he said that she's actually bleeding and stuff like that.

"That's when we realised she had been stabbed as well."

Mr Fleming says before bystanders could go to the woman's aid, a man used his car to intervene.

"The male was running around, waving knives and everyone was trying to help the female obviously ... it all went pear-shaped real quick," he said.

"[I] tried to put her out. Me and a few others eventually got her out and another person who was there had one of those Hummers.

"He jumped in that to try and run him over so we could have access to her - and then when he got up he just fled."

The man was taken to hospital for the treatment of minor injuries before being questioned by police.

Other reports stated that the man shouted "let her burn" at the people trying to assist the victim.

This attack has triggered a multitude of emotional responses from Melbourne residents, as these events often do.

Meanwhile in Queensland there has been an equally emotional response after Susan Falls, a 42 year old woman, who had suffered years of domestic violence, was found not guilty of murder in the death of her husband Rodney in 2006. (Link)  The Crown Prosecutor said that she did not have to kill him, she could have just left him.  She had left him before, but he had tracked her down and threatened her until she reunited with him.  Susan testified that Rodney had told her to pick which one of their children he should kill on her mother's birthday, which was to happen three days after she shot him.

Maybe he wouldn't have done it.  Or maybe he would have stabbed her and set her alight at a petrol station, and she acted to save the life of her and her children.  We don't know what would have happened, but we do know that Susan Falls believed her husband would carry out his threat.  She believed it enough to kill him.

Domestic violence seems to be a throw back to the days when a woman was the property of her father, and then her husband.  In most places, many years ago, rape was not a personal crime, but a property crime - you had stolen or soiled the property of a man, ie the father or husband. 

I'm sure in many of these cases the behaviour is learnt from the generation before.  It would be nice to think that eventually it will be a thing of the past, but with incidents such as the one in Melbourne this week, that may still be a while coming.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

Brief Summary and Editorial:  Serial Killer Barbie and Evil Bastard Ken

Paul and Karla on their wedding day.

It's fairly common to picture serial killers (and for that matter rapists and paedophiles) as disfigured, evil little men. Maybe that's why Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka really stand out.

Paul Bernardo met Karla Homolka and found in her his perfect woman - beautiful, sexually adventurous, and most importantly submissive. When Paul asked Karla what she would think if he told her that he was the Scarborough Rapist, a criminal who had been tormenting a Canadian suburb for a period of several months, Karla said she thought it was "cool". They fell hard for each other and Karla was willing to do ANYTHING to keep her attractive fiance.

That anything included drugging her 15 year old sister, Tammy, so Paul could rape her. You see, using Paul's fucked up logic, Karla was not a virgin when she started seeing Paul, so he needed to take the virginity of her sister to make up for that. When he put it like that, Karla was happy to help. She stole some anaesthetic from the vet clinic where she worked as a vet nurse. On December 23rd 1990 Paul, Karla and Tammy stayed up later than everyone else.
Tammy Homolka.

Tammy had been drinking and had eaten not long before her older sister held a drug soaked rag over her face while her fiance vaginally and anally raped her. While her oldest sister was orally raping her, Tammy asphyxiated on her own vomit and died. She was significantly burnt on her face from the anaesthetic agent which had been sloppily applied by her sister, but the medical examiner thought it must have been from stomach acid.

Three weeks after this horrible event, Paul took a video of Karla dressed in Tammy's clothes, and while pretending to be Tammy, performed oral sex on him. This act alone suggests that Karla did not care about what she had done to her little sister.
Karla, during her trial.

Paul continued to rape women, often with Karla's consent and presence. At least one woman who was raped by Bernardo after getting off a bus said she saw a blonde woman nearby holding a video camera. Police dismissed this as hysteria.

Eventually at least two more teenage girls lost their lives at Paul and Karla's hands.  In recent years Paul has confessed to several more rapes for which other people had been imprisoned and since pardoned.  There is also at least two young girls who died in the same area at the same time who were quite probably more victims of Paul and Karla, although unless Paul confesses, the truth will probably never be known.

The whole time that Paul and Karla were killing, a forensic pathology lab had a sample of Paul's DNA waiting to be tested as the Scarborough rapist. After more than two years the sample was finally tested and Paul Bernardo was arrested.  This was just one is a series of errors and delays made by police and forensic services which may have cost some young girls their lives. 

Karla, domestic violence victim.

Paul's fascination with his new video camera along with his decision to beat Karla black and blue sealed their fate. Karla's parents came and removed her and she reported the abuse to them, having photos taken of her horrific bruising. She also went to the police and confessed.

Police made a deal with Karla to tell what she knew. She ended up with a ten year sentence that was increased to twelve years when police discovered her role in the death of her own sister. Then the police were given the video tapes that Paul's lawyer had in his possession. If they had had those tapes earlier, Karla would never have received a deal and she would still be in prison.

Karla was released in July 2005, to media hysteria throughout Canada. There were even websites where you could bet when Karla would be killed - with the stipulation that you couldn't bet on it and then kill her, as that was cheating. 

It's an interesting case. I wonder how Karla's family feel about her these days, with the knowledge they must now possess. Was Karla a battered wife, committing the crimes as she had no choice but to follow her abusive manipulative husband? Or was she a willing participant who enjoyed it as much as Paul did? Karla insists she was a victim too. The video tapes suggest otherwise. 
Personally I think the video tapes are more convincing than the wimpering of a convicted killer.


There are plenty of stories online about Canada's most infamous serial killing couple, but these will give you a good summary:

Crime Library

Karla Homolka on Wikipedia

Paul Bernardo on Wikipedia