The Murder of Porn Star Red-Hot Carla

Oct 2, 2014 - by Marilyn Z. Tomlins - 0 Comments

Her face – and body – were known to millions of men who crawled the Internet for web-sex. Her stage name was Red-Hot Carla and her fans agreed that the name was well chosen. However, the way she looked when the police forced entry into the house she shared with her lover and pimp, would have made them recoil with horror. 

by Marilyn Z. Tomlins

The first call to the police reporting that a woman was missing came in the afternoon. The caller, a woman, describing herself as a neighbor, was saying that she has not seen the woman from the house next door for a day. The cop who took the call was wondering what a cop’s work would be like if they were to investigate each call about someone who has not been seen for 24 hours.

Deep into that night the woman again telephoned the police. She still has not seen her neighbor and she was really worried, she said.

The following afternoon the police received a call from a woman reporting that she has heard a gunshot coming from the house of a neighbor. She said that the previous day the man from that house had rung her doorbell and wanted to borrow a bottle of wine. She did not have any wine in the house and he left.  Did the man live alone in the house the cop who took the call wanted to know? The caller said that, no, his wife lived in the house with him.

A missing woman and a gunshot being heard decided the police to go and find out what was going on.

This was the Belgian town of Liège only a few miles from the borders of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

 Therefore, Liège is a frontier town, but there is nothing wild west about it. The French-speaking locals, the Liègeoises, are sturdy and staid, their pleasures mostly culinary.  They love mussels which they eat with fries, and they feast on pancakes and chocolates. They also devour meatballs - boulets à la Liègoise – which are made with pork and beef and very sweet apple syrup.

The address the police went to was a lane in the suburb of Vottem, three miles from central Liège. Two-story, red-brick, terraced houses lined the lane on both sides. There were no front gardens, but lace or chiffon curtains hanging behind small windows kept prying eyes from seeing into front rooms. Such discreet elegance made it obvious that it was a lane where the bourgeoisie lived: perhaps they were not wealthy people, but they were of a good social class.

The police knocked on the door of the house to which they had been directed. There was no answer. They banged on the door. Still no answer. Not being able to see into the front rooms they forced the lock.

A man lay across the settee in the living room. He was covered in blood and his face was a raw wound. A gun hung loosely from his right hand. The cops thought that he was dead, but no, he had a pulse. They summoned an ambulance who raced him under police guard to the local hospital. Someone might have tried to kill him, disguising the attempt on his life as suicide, and that person might still have been around.

In the bed of a bedroom upstairs lay a woman. She was undoubtedly dead: her head had almost been shot off.

Neighbors quickly filled in the police about the couple’s identity.

Stephane Fontaine

The man was named Stéphane Fontaine, 43 years old, and unemployed.

The woman was - well, there was some confusion about what her name was. Her real name.

 Known to the neighbors as Carla Sainclair, she was born Anne Derouck and she was 29 years old.

She was a porn star, and a prostitute, and apart from the name of Carla Sainclair she also called herself Red-Hot Carla - Carla La Chaude. She was a star of porn movies, and as for her real-life role as prostitute, she was selling her charms not only in sex clubs all over Western Europe, but also on x-rated web sites, and indeed in a specially equipped room in the house in which she lay dead.

Stéphane Fontaine was her pimp and her lover.

Had he shot her and then himself?

From the early stages of decomposition of the woman’s body and from the smell in the room they could tell that she had been dead for a few days, whereas the shot which had injured the man had, according to the neighbor, been fired only that afternoon.

Fontaine was unable to enlighten the cops. He could not speak: he was in a coma.

It was Wednesday, October 14, 2009.

He would remain in the coma for three months.

Good Girl

Schoolgirl Anne Derouck excelled in languages and mathematics.  She spoke of wanting to be a journalist and on leaving school she enrolled at a journalism school. However, in the year 2000 it was in a local department store that the dark-haired, curvaceous and friendly 20-year-old went to work as a salesgirl.

Her salary not high, so she hit on a plan to earn more money.

She took a night job at a private men’s club. Dressed as either a policewoman or a nurse, but then stripping down to the skin, she walked among the men who would be taking photos of her.

Next, she began to put in hours at a brothel. In Belgium prostitution is not illegal but for a third-party to live off its proceeds is against the law.  Brothels are all the same tolerated.

The Derouck family was unaware of what Anne was up to.

As she freely admitted to other girls in the profession, she loved the physical pleasure the job gave her.

Soon, her appetite for sexual delights having increased, she began to attend partner-swapping evenings. At such an evening, held in private homes or private sex clubs, or even in 5-star hotels, the understanding is that all inhibitions must be left at home because having sexual relations with as many of those present, male and female, is the rule.

In the year 2000, at one such partner-swapping evening, Anne met Stèphane Fontaine. He was 34 years old and living alone but he was the father of two children.  She was of course just 20 years old. Both would say that theirs was "love at first sight."

Unlike Anne’s happy childhood, Fontaine’s had been unhappy. Born out-of-wedlock, the surname Fontaine was that of the man who would marry his mother and legally adopt him.

Leaving school without diplomas, his first job was that of automobile mechanic. Next, he worked at a golf club doing menial tasks. Both jobs were of short duration and in 1985, 19 years old, he set out on a career of crime, successfully committing several hold-ups. In 1986 his luck ran out when in an armed bank robbery he took the manager and the latter’s young son hostage. Apprehended, he received a seven-year jail sentence.  Released in 1991 after having served five years, he went to work in a biscuit factory.  He was still working there when he met Anne.

Fontaine was a fan of a famous French prostitute, Laure Sainclair, and Anne, in order to please her lover, adopted the surname Sainclair for her prostitution, and as Carla Sainclair, she began to get known as a star of porn not only in Belgium but also in France, the Netherlands and as far away as Spain.  (Laure Sainclair is now retired. She had become an icon in France’s libertine world when she appeared on a TV chat show speaking about her life as a prostitute.)

With web-sex taking a hold in the mid-2000s Carla (I will call her Carla from now on) created a website for herself, and as Red-Hot Carla, she began to promote her sexual talents online. She and Fontaine had moved into the Vottem house and in 2007 when he was dismissed from the biscuit factory because he was drinking too much - his employers said he was an alcoholic - he became Carla’s web-master. He set up a webcam in one of the bedrooms and, having created a second website, viewers could at €500 ($650) a time watch Carla strip and perform sexual acts.

In 2008 Carla contacted a producer of porn movies: she wanted to be in movies. She was auditioned and given a contract and within months Red-Hot Carla starred in not just one, but two porn movies.  The producer was also posting porn videos on the web and Carla starred in them too. By the time of her death she had starred in seven such movies.

Her neighbors having seen the posters for the porn movies - there are sex shops all over Belgian towns where such posters are displayed - was enlightened to the identity of the charming young woman living among them. They appeared not to mind -- not even when men began calling at the house and they realized that she was also working as a prostitute. The couple had transformed the bedroom where Fontaine had already set up the webcam into a room where Carla could receive her clients.

The Derouck family also learned what Carla, who they still knew as Anne, was up to. After her murder some of them said that Fontaine had steered her into prostitution. They said they had never liked him. He would say, as she had herself revealed, she was doing what she was doing because she enjoyed sex. “She fantasized about making love to two men at the same time,” he explained her fondness to the police for partner-swapping evenings.

In 2009 Carla began to complain to some of the other prostitutes she had befriended and also to her mother that Fontaine was drinking too much and that he had become violent towards her. She spoke of an incident when he, drunk behind the wheel, had crashed their car, and when she had become angry with him, he had hit her in the face.

She also bemoaned the fact that he would not look for a job. She told her mother that he was refusing to do so because he said that he was against paying income tax. Carla, on the contrary, had to pay tax on her earnings. Whether she declared every euro she earned only she and Fontaine knew.

Having starred in seven porn movies, Carla, with more admirers than ever, began to travel to neighboring countries and to Spain to participate in private sex parties. Fontaine, at home and not only drinking heavily but consuming a large number of sleeping pills because he was suffering from insomnia, spent the time creating websites for other prostitutes and acting as their webmaster too.

On Friday, October 9 of that year of 2009, Carla was on the phone to her mother saying that she and Fontaine were having another argument. She was to be the main attraction at a sex fair in the town of Tournai, some 100 miles away, and she wanted Fontaine to accompany her but he refused.  At the fair she told the other girls that she wanted to leave him; that she was going to leave him.

Her performance at the fair over, she returned home where Fontaine was waiting.

Some time that night or perhaps during the next day, or it could have been days or weeks earlier, Carla had taken up pen and paper and written down that Fontaine was going to kill her.

She wrote: ‘I, Anne Derouck, testifies that Stéphane has threatened to kill me. He threatens me openly.  If I am to die, I want an autopsy to be carried out on my body.  I declare that I do not want to die.  I am sorry to say it but if I am to die, the guilty one will be Stéphane Fontaine.’

The police found the note in the Vottem house.

The injuries

Carla’s injuries were horrendous.

She had been shot four times into the left side of her face, each shot having been fired at close range while she was asleep.

The first shot was to her temple and had gone through her brain and had killed her instantly. The next two shots had been into her forehead, and the fourth, the last one, was into her left eye.

According to the pathologists, the shooting had taken place at least three days earlier: during the night of Saturday, October 10, to the morning of Sunday, October 11.

Her blood alcohol content (BAC) was 1.51 g/L which meant that she had in the immediate few hours before her death consumed a bottle of wine, or two or three glasses of strong liquor like gin, vodka or whiskey.

There were no bruises, and no scars of recent or old injuries, on her body.

According to the ballistic experts at the murder scene, Fontaine was the one who shot Carla and who, three days later, had turned the same gun on himself.

 Fontaine’s injury was such that the medical experts said it was a wonder that he had survived.

He had shot himself into the left side of his mouth, pressing the gun to his palate. The bullet had entered the left lobe of his brain and destroyed the optic nerve of his left eye.

He had no alcohol in his blood, but he had consumed a large number of sleeping pills in the 72 hours or so hours in which he had gone to ask a neighbor to borrow a bottle of wine and which other neighbors, passing the house, had seen him standing at the windows, his lover dead in an upstairs bedroom.

I needed a gun for our protection

For the three months of Fontaine’s coma the police and psychiatrists waited to speak to him. They knew that he would be suffering from memory loss not only because of the coma but also because of the injury to his brain so they did not expect to get much information from him.

On Wednesday, January 10, 2010, Fontaine was released from hospital into police custody. In a pitiful state, he was incarcerated in the hospital wing of Lantin Prison, four miles outside Liège.  Lantin, Belgium’s largest prison, open since 1979, can accommodate 342 inmates, 40 of them female. The prison also has a secure psychiatric wing.

Because of the destruction of the optic nerve of Fontaine’s left eye he was blind in that eye, and because of the damage to his brain he was classified as intellectually challenged. Both conditions were to be permanent, and so too would be his memory loss. He suffered total amnesia of the days before, during and after he had fired four bullets into his lover’s head.

He would need round-the-clock care and psychiatric counseling too.

Replying to police questions, he spoke of an argument he and Carla had had because she wanted him to accompany her to a sex fair in Tournai and he did not want to go. He could not remember why he did not want to go with her, and he also could not say when exactly they had had the argument. Already back in hospital, told that she was dead and that he had killed her, he had tearfully expressed his regret. She was, he said, the human being he loved more than any other, and he could not envisage a life without her.

Questioned about the gun he had used and for which he did not have a license, he said that he had bought it through a friend who had bought it from a friend who had bought it from a friend. The police tracing this long line of friends of friends identified the original owner of the gun as a man in the criminal underworld.

He needed the gun, said Fontaine, because strangers were coming to the house all the time and he had to be in a position to defend Carla - and himself.

He was adamant that he had never laid a hand on her, and he had not forced her into prostitution: she had masterminded her career herself. And there had never been any talk of her leaving him.

He explained away his armed hold-ups and the bank robbery when he had taken hostages by describing them as follies of his youth. He bitterly regretted having taken that path, he emphasized.

The court-appointed psychiatrists, who by law had to evaluate Fontaine’s mental state, reported that he manifested no signs of anxiety or depression but that he did manifest anti-social and narcissistic behavior, and he showed no empathy towards others. He did love Carla but he did not respect her. His insomnia was severe and he was dependent not only on sleep medication but also on alcohol.

They also reported that Fontaine did not manifest any signs of mental illness and despite that he had become intellectually challenged and his lost memory would never return, he was fit to stand trial.

 Public Prosecutor Marianne Lejeune formally charged Fontaine with first-degree murder. Belgian law classifies first-degree murder as assassination. He was also to be judged for the illegal possession of a firearm.

They were quiet neighbors

On Monday, March 5, 2012, Fontaine, flanked by two uniformed police, walked into the courtroom in Liège.

The hearing was expected to last four days.

Carla’s mother described her murdered daughter as discrete, serious, spontaneous, always in a good mood, and always ready to do someone a favor. Fontaine was violent towards her daughter and he did slap her face when the two had argued about Tournai: Carla had told her about it when the two of them had spoken on the phone in the hours before her daughter had set off for the fair. Carla was not however planning to leave Fontaine, she added. Indeed, Carla loved Fontaine, the only man she has ever had a serious love relationship with.

Carla’s sister spoke of how much her sister had loved life and what a wonderful person she had been. Fontaine’s entire existence focused on sex and he settled his problems with violence, she said.

The couple’s neighbors testified that the couple had caused no problem. The two were quiet and respectful and they were loving towards one another. They certainly had never witnessed any arguments or violence between the two. They did see many men visiting the house, but this did not surprise them because Carla had never hidden that she was a prostitute and starred in porn movies.

A childhood friend of Carla’s said that she had no idea what Carla had been up to and learned about it only after her murder. She said that she remembered Carla as a studious girl and that Carla would have gone into prostitution only because she had been pushed into it.

Women who had been performers at Tournai with Carla testified that she had told them that she was going to leave Fontaine. She had also spoken to them of how he beat her.

Fontaine’s former colleagues from the biscuit factory described him as pleasant. They had kept up with him after he had left the factory and that, they said, was proof that they had not found him disagreeable.

Fontaine, cross-examination by the lawyer representing Carla’s mother, repeated what he had told the police: he loved Carlo with all his heart and he had never hit her. To most of the lawyer’s questions, though, he replied that he could not reply because of his memory loss.

As Fontaine had not denied having shot Carla, Prosecutor Lejeune, in her closing argument, strove to convince the jury of 12 to unanimously find him guilty of first-degree murder. Carla was leaving him and he had therefore decided to kill her.

 Lejeune also asked the jury to find Fontaine guilty on the second charge of the illegal possession of a firearm.

The Belgian Constitution provides that all serious crimes, like murder, be judged by juries. A tied vote is considered a not guilty one whereas, in the event of a hung jury, three professional judges are appointed to decide the accused’s guilt or innocence.

Lejeune asked the judge for a 30-year incarceration sentence.

In their final plea for Fontaine’s liberty his two lawyers, Pascal Rodeyns and Steve Van Laeden, both prominent in Belgium, stated that the autopsy practised on the victim proved that, as there were no scars of violence on Carla’s body, their client had not been violent towards her. Also, no one had ever witnessed any act of violence on his part towards her.

 Rodeyns asked that the case should be analyzed within the framework of the type of relationship the couple had.

 Their client’s amnesia was genuine, he said, and his memory would never return. Accordingly, what had preceded the fatal shooting and the scenario of the victim’s shooting and the following suicide attempt would never be known.

He also said that at the time of the shooting Fontaine was not himself but was suffering from temporary insanity. He had also taken a large number of sleeping pills. He loved Carla and this was why he had turned the gun on himself. “He did not reckon on waking up,” he stated.

On Thursday, March 8, at 3 p.m., after four hours of deliberation, the jury returned.

They found Fontaine guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to 25 years.

On hearing the sentence, Fontaine showed no emotion.  Journalists wrote about his empty eyes and the frozen expression on his face just as he had had during the four days of his trial.

Incarceration

Fontaine was returned to Liège’s Lantin Prison and to its hospital wing for the daily medical and psychiatric care he would need.

Should he be released before he has served his time, it would be into a care home.

As for Red-Hot Carla’s millions of fans. Undoubtedly, they still crawl the Internet for web-sex where also undoubtedly other women are now supplying it.

 The porn movies Carla starred in are showing in theatres in red-light districts not only in Belgium but over all of Europe. Her websites are no longer live on the Internet but her attributes are still to be viewed on sex sites. On those sites she can also still be viewed performing various sex acts as if Fontaine had never blasted four bullets into her face.

The house the couple lived in, they had rented, their furnishings were ordinary, their car was not a luxury one and they had not ever taken a vacation.

Whatever the reason was why Fontaine had slain Carla, it was not financial.

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