Dismemberment suspect accused threatening Canadian leader
OTTAWA, Ontario — Montreal authorities on Saturday detailed the charges pending against a self-proclaimed porn star, accusing him of first-degree murder in the grisly killing and dismembering of a university student and threatening, among others, Canada’s prime minister.
The suspect — 29-year-old Luka Rocco Magnotta — remains at large despite a massive international manhunt.
The search for him began after a severed hand and foot were mailed to the Ottawa headquarters of Canada’s Liberal and Conservative parties, while a torso was discovered stuffed in a suitcase and tossed in the trash heap of a Montreal apartment building.
What specific accusations he would face if he’s captured became clearer Saturday, when police in Montreal released information from his arrest warrant.
Besides murder, the charges include producing, distributing or possessing “any obscene written matter, picture, model … or other thing,” mailing “anything that is obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous,” and “improperly or indecently (offering) any indignity to a dead human body or human remains.”
The accusations relate to the violent death of a Concordia University student from China.
Montreal police Commander Ian Lafreniere identified the victim Friday as 33-year-old Jun Lin. The Chinese consulate in Montreal said Lin was from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Police believe Lin was killed and his body dismembered either on May 24 or 25 in a Montreal apartment. A 10-minute video showing what transpired was then posted online.
“We believe he filmed himself,” Lafreniere said earlier this week of the suspect. “It’s gross … This is a very deranged person. He is looking for attention and he got it, but not in a positive way.”
According to a more detailed copy of the arrest warrant posted on the website of CNN affiliate CBC, the fifth charge of “uttering threats” accuses Magnotta of “causing (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper and members of parliament to reasonably fear for their safety.”
Harper is the leader of the Conservative party, one of the offices that had body parts mailed to it.
Magnotta, who was born as Eric Clinton Newman and also uses the alias Vladimir Romanov, fled by plane from Montreal to Europe, Lafreniere has said. That prompted Interpol, the global police agency, to alert authorities in 190 countries.
Police have reason to believe Magnotta might have gone to Eastern Europe, given his Russian pseudonym and writings on his Web page.
On Friday, police had indications that the suspect may have been aboard a flight traveling from Paris to Montreal. Yet there was no sign of him after a search of the plane, Lafreniere said.
Having earlier indicated that Magnotta is good at disguising himself, the police commander said Saturday that the suspect could now be anywhere in Europe, though authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility he may be back in Canada.
Police described Magnotta as being 5 feet, 8 inches tall and about 135 pounds, with black hair and blue eyes.
His name may not have been known before this week, but his digital footprints were large.
He was notorious among online animal rights activists, who pegged him as a serial kitten killer who used cat carcasses in sexual acts.
A Facebook group started in December 2010 dubbed him the “Vacuum Kitten Killer,” after a video was posted on YouTube showing kittens being killed by suffocation and drowning.
“Members of this group have spent over a year searching for this individual, who we believe is also responsible for several videos where animals were killed,” the group said Thursday. “Information gathered by group members was passed on to the authorities in Canada, and we were informed that they were actively working on locating the person seen in the videos hurting animals.”
Lafreniere has said police are aware of the animal abuse allegations.
On what appears to be his own website, Magnotta defended himself as a victim of cyberstalking.
“Once and for all, I will set the record straight,” he wrote. “Many hoax websites are created using my image and name, posing as me to seem more believable in respect to the type of audience these website (sic) have, I feel I don’t need to list them specifically but people need not be told, not to believe what they read and to take it as fact.”
The website has writing in Arabic and Russian, and shows images of Magnotta half-naked and with lips in a distinct runway pout.
Lafreniere from the Montreal police expressed confidence that Magnotta will be caught sooner or later — predicting his desire for attention may be his downfall.
“This man uses the Web to glorify himself, and (authorities) hope this habit will lead to his capture,” the police commander said Saturday.