Kristen French

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Kristen Dawn French
Kristen French.jpeg
Born (1976-05-10)May 10, 1976
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Died April 19, 1992(1992-04-19) (aged 15)
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Student
Religion Roman Catholicism
Parents Doug and Donna French

Kristen Dawn French (May 10, 1976 – April 19, 1992) was a Canadian school girl and murder victim of Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo.

Biography[edit]

French was a member of the precision ice skating team which won several medals, and a member of the girls rowing team at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School.

Abduction and murder[edit]

On 16 April 1992, as she walked home from Holy Cross Secondary School, a Catholic school in St. Catharines, French was approached at the entrance of the Grace Lutheran Church parking lot by Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo under the pretense of needing directions. While French assisted Homolka with directions, Bernardo attacked her from behind and forced her into the car at knife point. The kidnapping was seen by several eyewitnesses.[1]

She was held in captivity for three days, during which Bernardo and Homolka videotaped themselves torturing and subjecting the 15-year-old to sexual humiliation and degradation while forcing her to drink large amounts of alcohol. They murdered her on 19 April 1992. Her naked body was found in a ditch along No. 1 Sideroad in north Burlington on 30 April 1992, approximately one kilometre from the gravesite of Leslie Mahaffy, another of Bernardo and Homolka's murder victims.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

While French was missing, her classmates, teachers and friends at Holy Cross Secondary School chose the Green Ribbon of Hope as the symbol for their search. French's school community also gave the name to the Green Ribbon of Hope Campaign, a national campaign continued to this day by Child Find Canada, governments, organizations and individuals to raise funds and awareness for missing children.

The Green Ribbon Trail in St. Catharines was named in her honour. A monument to French's memory stands at the beginning of the trail. The ribbon also gave its name to the Green Ribbon Task Force, the police group tasked with finding French and Mahaffy's killers, though they later found themselves embroiled in controversy over the role of media in police investigations.

French is remembered for declining cooperation with her abductors in the later period of her abduction: "Some things are worth dying for."[3] She said to Bernardo: "I don't know how your wife can stand to be around you."[4] On one of the memorials dedicated to her is engraved "Her legacy proves an inspiration."[5]

The couple was also convicted of the fatal drug rape of Karla Homolka's sister, Tammy Homolka, which received wide coverage in Canadian newsmedia. Her murder and the subsequent criminal trials remain one of the best-known criminal cases in Canadian history. There was physical evidence of torture and rape, and a videotape which Bernardo made of her captivity and torture later proved to be key evidence in his trial.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Williams, Stephen (2009). Invisible Darkness: The Strange Case Of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Random House. ISBN 978-0-307-56965-3. 
  2. ^ Hewitt, Bill, Weinstein, Fannie (1995-09-18). "Record of horror". People Weekly, 1995. Vol. 44, Iss. 12 (Time Incorporated, New York). pp. 235–239. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  3. ^ Bernardo Trial Gets Underway
  4. ^ Stephen Williams: Invisible Darkness
  5. ^ Curriculum Vitae and virtual grave