Monday, May 14, 2012

From Homolka to McClintic: Explaining the Inexplicable

Above: Terri-Lynne McClintic
Below: Karla Homolka

In the days since Michael Thomas Rafferty's first degree murder conviction, nearly every major Canadian news outlet has rushed to make comparisons between the case of Rafferty and his ex-lover, Terri-Lynne McClintic, and that of notorious serial rape and murder monsters Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.

As far as female offenders go, women like Homolka and McClintic are extremely rare according to popular science. When FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood and psychiatrist Janet Warren completed their famous study, they spoke to only 20 women; incarcerated former wives, girlfriends, and lovers of sexual sadists. Of the 20 women studied, only seven (including Homolka) had directly acted or assisted in sexual homicides, and four were actually present during the murders and convicted as accomplices.

What makes Karla Homolka such an unusual character is the fact that one of the girls she raped was her own little sister, Tammy, who died as a result of the attack.

Terri-Lynne McClintic is something of an anomaly, as well, with respect to all the research that has been conducted on women who kill in tandem with their sexual partners. According to the Hazelwood/Warren study, an astounding 85% of women studied had come from stable and supportive families, and had no prior troubles with the law before meeting their predator partners. Further, only four of the 20 women reported problems with alcohol or drugs, suicide attempts, or mental health issues prior to becoming involved with a sexual sadist.

Perhaps what one should take from these seemingly incongruent statistics regarding women who assist violent sexual offenders is to shift focus away from grappling with why these otherwise "normal" women end up committing unspeakable acts alongside their partners, and to allow ourselves as a society to come to terms with the fact that these women do exist, and for reasons unknown chose to commit the ultimate sin.

More Information...

The Canadian Press (May 13, 2012)

The Toronto Star (May 14, 2012)


  1. Hi Kitty,
    Thanks for taking up the slack since the WKH forum came down.

    Female offenders aren't nearly as rare as these articles, the number of convictions, and statements from 'various experts' would have us believe. It is far more prevalent than is publicly acknowledged.

    I'd suggest having a look around the following website to get an idea just how prevalent - and how minimized and hidden - this problem really is:

    Also here:

    And here:

    And regarding the fallacy that female offenders are less inclined to use violence:

    The more eyes on Karla's children, the better. They are all (at least the first and third) Canadian citizens who deserve better protection from us than what we've done so far.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, and for the dandy links! I agree that the notion that female violence is rare is complete and utter hogwash. Unfortunately, the justice system, in its infinite wisdom, seems bound to the idea that society itself would crumble and fall if a woman's capacity to commit truly vicious crimes were acknowledged.

      I tend not to agree, but nobody really listens to me :p

  2. Excerpt from the Corrections Canada article above:

    "In 7 cases, violence consisted of: hitting or beating the victim, handling the victim roughly, beating a victim with bottles and a piece of wood, holding the victim down forcibly during intercourse, threatening the victim at knife point, and killing a victim. In 3 cases, no extraneous violent force was used in the sexual assault. Information was either unclear or not available as to whether violence was part of the assault in the 9 remaining cases. Therefore, in 7 of the 10 cases, where case information was available, offenders used violence during their offences. This finding suggests that in a federally incarcerated sample of female sex offenders, violence is a common feature, contradictory to data obtained in other settings. [...]

    It is tempting to categorize all the female offenders who were involved in offences with males as male-coerced. However, a closer look at their cases reveals that such a categorization does not accurately reflect their motives or behaviour. [...]

    However, the five remaining women who co-offended with males do not fit the category of male-coerced for various reasons. [...]

    Mathews et al.'s (1989) typologies do not include female sex offenders who violently offend against a non-familial female and who take a role equal to and, at times, greater than, her male co-offenders.

    In summary, of the 11 women for whom enough information was available, only one fits the classification of teacher/lover and one could be classified as angry/impulsive. Four were found to fit the male-coerced typology. However, 5 of the offenders fit into an older classification scheme developed by Mathews (1987): male accompanied. One of the five was both "predisposed" and male-accompanied. Male-accompanied offenders co-offend with a male and are more active participants in the abuse against their victims than male-coerced. It seems the distinction Mathews (1987) made between male-coerced and male-accompanied is important to maintain."

  3. Cont. re: victim typology:

    "It is believed that female sex offenders tend to sexually assault their own children or those with whom they are well acquainted (Mathews et al., 1989; Faller, 1987). In accordance with these findings, 25 of the 33 victims (76%) in this sample (where relevant information was available) were either children of the offender or children sharing a familial relationship with the offender, and 80% of these victims were the offender's own children. Where the sex of these victims was known, seven were the offender's son, and nine were the offender's daughter. Information on sex was not available for four of the victims. Of the five child victims who were in a familial relationship to the offender, one was a stepson, three were nieces and one was a nephew."

    Again, the more eyes on Karla's children, the better.

    1. I don't feel that Karla is a danger to her own children; she very clearly loves them a great deal, and she has always been gravely protective of what she considers to be hers.

      I don't worry that Karla's kids will be snatched up by some maniacal vigilante, as has been suggested by folks who think that reporting on her life after prison is mean and nasty business. This kind of reasoning appeals only to the lowest common denominator; those who are interested in keeping an eye on her after all these years are *not* interested in seeing any more children hurt!

      What does worry me is her kids will grow up believing the very same lies that their mother fed into the court system while she testified against her partner in crime, Paul Bernardo -- that she was a victim, and that she deserved the right to be listed as such alongside the girls she helped to torture and kill. Unfortunately, in their sheltered little world, warped logic will be the soup du jour.

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