Most Evil - Friday October 26

most evil
partners in crime (4/6)

This documentary series delves inside the minds of killers in an attempt to find out why they kill; how they get away with their crimes and how they rationalise their actions. In each programme, Dr Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at New York City’s Columbia University, considers killers and places them on his ‘most evil’ scale, which he has devised to categorise murderers. In tonight’s edition, Dr Stone assesses an unusual group of murderers: couples who conspire to kill. What drives two people to join forces and work together in such a disturbing fashion?

“One might assume,” begins Dr Stone, “that two people that conspire to kill share the same motive. But if you look at the Barbie and Ken killers… you see that one literally dominates the other. And for that reason, I’ve placed them on different parts of the scale”. Toronto-based couple Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka were nicknamed the Ken and Barbie killers by the Canadian media due to their young and beautiful ‘all-American’ image. Who would imagine that such people could be responsible for rape and murder?

Bernardo’s behaviour can be traced back to his childhood, where a harsh upbringing taught him to victimise rather than become a victim himself. At college, he developed a taste for violent, sadistic sex and had a string of abusive relationships; his fantasy was to own and dominate a ‘virgin farm’. According to Dr Stone, “Bernardo focused his psychopathic energies towards dominating others”. He then looked for a partner who would not only allow this behaviour, but help him carry out his deviant acts.

From the moment a 17-year-old Karla Homolka met Bernardo, she showed that she was willing to do vicious things to please him. He beat her and controlled every aspect of her life, and when it became clear that she would do anything for him, things got brutal. Between 1987 and 1990, Bernardo raped 13 women in his neighbourhood, often with Homolka’s help. In Bernardo’s world, she was the perfect partner in all ways but one – Homolka was not a virgin.

Bernardo demanded his partner provide him with a virgin – Karla’s 15 year-old sister. Homolka spiked her sister’s drink with horse tranquiliser and, once she was unconscious, the two raped her. Unfortunately, the girl choked on her own vomit and died, but the death was ruled accidental and the rape went undetected. “Her tragic death was the turning point for the couple. It gave them a taste for joint murder,” says Dr Stone.

The couple went on to kidnap, torture, rape and murder two more girls. Then, when DNA evidence linked Bernardo to the crimes, Homolka turned on her lover and confessed everything to the police. Dr Stone rates Paul Bernardo at 22 –the very top of his scale of evil. “Paul Bernardo is one of the most depraved sexual serial killers of our time,” he concludes. Homolka is harder to rate as she was clearly under Bernardo’s influence. Dr Stone places her at 16, but says that her case poses a major question: how far can an average person be coerced into committing evil acts?

Responsible for a string of attacks in New Mexico from the 1950s until his arrest in 1999, David Parker Ray was one of the most extreme sexual torturers in US history. He tortured and killed over 40 female victims –who he called ‘packages’ –for days at a time in a specialised storage container he called his ‘toy box’. But shockingly, Ray did not act alone. Dr Stone travels to New Mexico to visit Cindy Hendy, who helped Ray kidnap victims and watched as they were tortured. Before he rates Hendy on his scale of evil, Stone interviews her to discover what could motivate somebody to be a killer’s accomplice.

Also profiled in tonight’s programme is the fascinating partnership of two dominant personalities –those of Charles Ng and Leonard Lake, who kidnapped at least 25 men, women and children while carrying out a bizarre, apocalyptic fantasy of domination.

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