In this node, I will present an overview of Paul Bernardo's background, a quick
accounting of the things that may have molded him into the sick, twisted monster that he
is. One factor that must now be discounted is not what caused him to do what he did, but what allowed him to get away with it for so long. Paul Bernardo was blessed with two traits, Boyish good looks, and Charm. The man is prettier than a Ken doll, and no one who met him could deny he was a suave SOB. One of the reasons that he wasn't caught much earlier was because he was able to convince the police, when they were still only investigating the Scarborough rapes, that he couldn't possibly be the rapist. He became less of a suspect because of his genteel manner and how nice his house was. For a more detailed look at the crimes committed by him and his wife, please see the
node Paul Bernardo and Karla Holmolka.
The story begins with the courtship of Paul's mother, Marilyn. She had two suitors
vying for her attention, but her father, a well-off lawyer, was opposed to one of the
suitors because he did not have sufficient education to suit them. So, in 1960 she
married the other suitor, Kenneth Bernardo.
Now Kenneth was a violent man, like his father before him, and took to beating up
his new wife. So, she took comfort in the arms of her other suitor, taking him as a lover.
After having a son and a daughter with her husband, she conceived Paul with her
As time went on, his family became even more screwed up. Kenneth started being a
peeping tom, and also went to court for fondling a young girl. He also began to sexually
abuse his young daughter.
Marilyn on the other hand gained more and more weight. She became morbidly
obese, and exhibited signs of severe depression. She started to ignore her own children,
leaving them to fend for themselves.
When Paul was sixteen, he and his mother got into a fight, and she told him the truth
about him being an illegitimate bastard. After that he despised both his parents, mocking
her mother as a 'whore' and a 'slob' and hating his father for obvious reasons.
Outside his family, he presented a different facade to the world. He was heavily
involved in scouting, was polite, well mannered, and worked hard in school.
He worked as a camp counselor, and was well loved by the children. The girls adored his
good looks, and those who dated him in high school said that he was a considerate
boyfriend. For a time, he was involved in Amway, and he used the skills he learned there
throughout his life, to influence the people around him.
Once he got to college however, at the University of Toronto, he began to change.
His sexual appetites became darker. He began to prefer submissive women, those who
would put up with a little abuse, and the forcible anal sex which he was beginning to
enjoy so much.
And then, he met Karla Holmolka, and the rest, as they
say, is history.