Leslie Mahaffy

Leslie Mahaffy

Leslie Erin Mahaffy (July 5, 1976 – June 16, 1991) was a young female resident of Burlington, Ontario, Canada who was murdered by serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. [cite news|author=Jenish, D Arcy
title=Horror stories
work=Maclean's Magazine Vol.108, Iss. 22
pages=14 – 18
publisher=Rogers Publishing Limited
] Mahaffy's kidnapping was part of a series of disappearances of Ontario schoolgirls, including Kristen French, also a victim of Bernardo and Homolka. Prior to killing Mahaffy in 1991 and French in 1992, the pair had raped and killed Homolka's teen sister Tammy in 1990. The disappearances, arrests, and convictions were widely covered in Canadian media, becoming one of the most notorious crimes in Canadian history.


Leslie Erin Mahaffy was born July 1, 1976, to Debbie Smith Mahaffy and Robert "Dan" Mahaffy. [http://www.findagrave.com/photos/2005/122/18527_111512469682.jpgMahaffy Family Headstone] photograph at Findagrave.com. Accessed September 6, 2007.] Her brother Ryan was born some years later. Her father was an oceanographer for the Canadian federal Fisheries and Oceans department, and sometimes would be on assignments away from home for weeks at a time. Her mother was a teacher. "Deadly Innocence" at pp. 5-6, 20-27, 317-320, 520-524.]

Though she had been close to her family, when she turned fourteen, Mahaffy began to rebel and run away from home. However, she always phoned home during her absences. When she missed the funeral of a friend the day after she missed a Friday night curfew, her mother became gravely concerned and, in the absence of her husband who was away on assignment, contacted the police. When Mahaffy failed to phone home on her own birthday about two weeks later, her family was certain that she hadn't called them because she couldn't.

Her mother Debbie would later become prominent in the struggle to maintain and enforce the judge's gag order about the trials of Mahaffy's killers, and the videotapes they made of their own crimes which were used as evidence against them.

Mahaffy's remains are interred under a family headstone at Burlington Memorial Gardens in Burlington, Canada. There is also a Heart Shaped Garden, with Plaque in Leslie's honour, at M.M.Robinson (the highschool she attended) and a memorial bench nearby her family headstone. The remains of her killers' third and final victim, Kristen French, were dumped on a side road near the Mahaffy gravesite.


At the time of her abduction and subsequent murder in mid-June 1991, just a few weeks before her fifteenth birthday, Leslie Mahaffy was a Grade 9 student at M. M. Robinson High School in Burlington, Ontario. Like many teens that age, she wore braces on her teeth.

On the evening of June 14, 1991, Mahaffy went to a funeral home to attend a wake for her friend Chris Evans, a boy who had died in a car accident earlier that week. She promised to be home by 11 p.m.

After the wake, a large group of teens met in the woods to drink, smoke, and console one another. As the evening wound down, a boy she knew well walked Mahaffy home shortly before 2:00 AM, where he stayed with her while she found the side door locked. She told him the front door would surely be unlocked, and sent him home. However, after he left, she found the front door was locked as well.

Now alone, Mahaffy walked to a pay phone at Max Milk and called a friend's house for permission to sleep over. Her friend told her no, and after a lengthy conversation that ended after 2:30 AM, Mahaffy said she would go back home and wake up her own mother to get in the house.

At first, because of her earlier runaways, her family was not concerned when she was not home on the morning of Saturday, June 15. However, when Mahaffy failed to appear later that day at the funerals for her friend Chris Evans and the three teens killed with him, her mother phoned the police. On June 18, Debbie Mahaffy filed the official paperwork to have her daughter sought and arrested as a runaway.

Paul Bernardo eventually admitted he had been on Keller Court, where the Mahaffy home was located, to steal license plates. He saw Leslie Mahaffy alone. He claims he told her he was breaking into the house next door and then offered her a cigarette, which he said was back at his car. When she was close enough to the car, he said wrapped his sweatshirt quickly around her head, forced her into the vehicle, and took her to the home he shared with Homolka. Homolka's version of the story is similar, but she claims that once he got Mahaffy to the car to fetch the cigarette, he pulled a knife on the girl to get her compliance. Both agree that Homolka was not present during the kidnapping.


After 24 hours of rape and abuse by both of the killers, Mahaffy was murdered sometime Saturday night. According to Homolka, Bernardo strangled Leslie Mahaffy with an electrical cord a second time when the first attempt left her unconscious for a few minutes. Homolka, a veterinary technician, had access to sedative drugs which were used to subdue Mahaffy, the same technique the pair used in the rape of Homolka's sister six months before; the drugs killed Homolka's sister by accident.

Bernardo stated that he was out of the room, preparing the car to transport Mahaffy to a location where she would be released, when the heavily-drugged Mahaffy died. He has claimed he did not even know she was dead until, after putting gas in the car and taking a shower, he tried to pick her up to carry her away. He said he and Homolka panicked, and that he tried to give Mahaffy artificial respiration. Both killers agree that they gave her a teddy bear to hold during breaks between assaults.

Sunday, June 16, 1991 was Father's Day. Bernardo and Homolka moved Mahaffy's body from an upstairs bedroom down to the basement. They then entertained the Homolka family—without Homolka's sister, Tammy, whom they had murdered December 24, 1990—on the main floor of the house, with Homolka making a special effort to keep her mother from going downstairs. When the family left, Bernardo and Homolka used his grandfather's circular saw to take Mahaffy's body apart into pieces that would be small enough to lift when covered with cement. Later, in a confession to her aunt before revealing details to the police, Homolka claimed that Bernardo did this while she was at work on Monday. Bernardo's version asserts that she did not help him rinse and bag the body parts.

Mahaffy's body was found dismembered and encased in cement on June 29, 1991 in Lake Gibson near St. Catharines, Ontario. The concrete block containing the torso weighed over 200 pounds. Her braces and dental records confirmed her identity.

Investigators immediately believed she had been raped and tortured. This was confirmed when videotapes were discovered in the home of Bernardo and Homolka. The tapes show that she was held hostage for approximately 24 hours and repeatedly assaulted and sodomized. After Bernardo's final bid for an appeal before the Supreme Court was rejected, the tapes were all destroyed by the Ontario government.

Bernardo's 2005 statements

Several days before Homolka's release from prison in 2005, Bernardo was interviewed by police and his lawyer, Tony Bryant. Bryant was subsequently interviewed by the media, providing Bernardo's thoughts about the release.

According to Bryant, Bernardo claimed that he had always intended to free the girls he and Homolka had held captive. Bernardo claimed that Homolka was worried that Leslie Mahaffy's blindfold had fallen off, and that she would be able to identify them. Further, Bernardo claimed that Homolka's plan was to murder Mahaffy by injecting an air bubble into her bloodstream, eventually causing an embolism. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/07/05/bernardo050705.html "Bernardo's lawyer says killer 'agitated' over attention given to Homolka"] , CBC News, July 6 2005]

Video and television accounts

"Dark Heart, Iron Hand". Documentary broadcast by MSNBC. Rebroadcast as an episode of the series "MSNBC Investigates" retitled "To Love and To Kill" May 31, 2002 [http://www.mail-archive.com/primetime@lists.msnbc.com/msg00029.html MSNBC Investigates] , "To Love and To Kill"....a classic program from our Crime Files." Accessed September 5, 2007.] and September 4, 2007. [http://television.aol.com/episode/to-love-and-to-kill/msnbc-investigates/169985 MSNBC Investigates] episode schedule. Accessed September 5, 2007.]

"Karla" starring Laura Prepon and Misha Collins. Monterey Video (2007) No ISBN available. ASIN B000MNOXX0.


Further reading

* Burnside, Scott and Alan Cairns. "Deadly Innocence". Grand Central Publishing, Warner Books edition (1995) ISBN 0446601543.
* Davey, Frank. "Karla's Web". Viking Adult (1994) ISBN 0670861537.
* O'Neill, Brian. "A Marriage Made For Murder". O'Neill Enterprises (1995) ISBN 0969977913.
* Pron, Nick. "Lethal Marriage: The Uncensored Truth Behind the Crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka". Seal Books (2005). ISBN 077042936X.
*Williams, Stephen. "Karla: A Pact with the Devil". Seal Books. (2004) ISBN 0770429629.
*Williams, Stephen. "Invisible Darkness: The Strange Case Of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka." Bantam (1997) ISBN 055356854X.

External links

* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=mahaffy&GSfn=Leslie&GSbyrel=all&GSdy=1991&GSdyrel=in&GScntry=10&GSob=n&GRid=9292925& Leslie Erin Mahaffy] comprehensive memorial page at Findagrave.com, with photos.

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