Luka Rocco Magnotta


Luka Rocco Magnotta (born July 24, 1982 as Eric Clinton Kirk Newman), also known as Vladimir Romanov and Mattia Del Santo is a Canadian gay pornographic actor accused of murdering and dismembering Lin Jun, a 33-year-old Chinese international student, then mailing his severed limbs to offices of Canadian political parties. After a snuff video allegedly depicting the murder was posted online, Magnotta fled the country, becoming the subject of an Interpol Red Notice and prompting an international manhunt. He was apprehended on June 4 in an Internet cafe in Berlin while reading news stories about himself. He was previously sought by animal rights groups for allegedly posting videos of himself torturing kittens.

History

Magnotta, then named Eric Clinton Newman, was born in Scarborough, Ontario. He was raised in Lindsay, Ontario by his grandparents and attended I. E. Weldon Secondary School. He changed his name to Luka Rocco Magnotta on August 12, 2006.

In 2003, Magnotta began to appear in both straight and gay pornographic videos, occasionally working as a stripper and a male escort. He has identified himself at different times as being bisexual or as a heterosexual who was strictly “gay-for-pay”, with his only confirmed romantic relationships being with women. Despite being described, both by himself and by the media, as a porn star, his career in porn appears to have been relatively brief.  He also appears to have embellished his porn credentials by claiming credit for numerous other videos in which he was not featured.

He also appeared as a pin-up model in a 2005 issue of Toronto’s fab magazine, using the pseudonym “Jimmy”. In 2007, he was an unsuccessful competitor inOUTtv’s reality series COVERguy; while he made only a single appearance on the show and was not selected by the judges to continue in the competition, in his own later writings he often claimed to have been a finalist who left the show due to disagreements with the producers.

In 2005, Magnotta was convicted on three counts of fraud against Sears Canada, The Brick, and 2001 Audio Video after impersonating a woman to purchase $16,900 of goods on a stolen credit card, and received a nine-month conditional sentence with 12 months of probation.

A few news stories emerged in 2007 claiming that he was in a relationship with Karla Homolka, a high-profile Canadian murderer, although Magnotta denied in an interview with the Toronto Sun that he had ever even met her. During the murder investigation, Montreal police initially announced that the pair had dated, but subsequently retracted the statement and acknowledged that they had no new evidence to corroborate the claim.

In 2007, Magnotta declared bankruptcy. The bankruptcy was fully discharged in December 2007.

Internet controversy

According to the Montreal Gazette, Magnotta is alleged to have been the person behind a series of videos of animal cruelty involving cats which were posted to YouTube beginning in 2010, including one which showed a man deliberately suffocating kittens with a vacuum cleaner and one in which a man fed a live kitten to apython. After identifying Magnotta as the likely suspect, animal rights activists offered a $5000 reward for “bringing him to justice”. Scotland Yard investigated claims that the python video had been shot while Magnotta was living in London in 2011, but denied that the incident had occurred within its jurisdiction, stating that the video had been “posted from somewhere in North America.”

Magnotta, or someone connected to him, appears to have maintained an extensive network of profiles on various internet social media and discussion forums, which were used over a period of several years to plant false or unverified news stories depicting him as a celebrity with a large and loyal fan following. These accounts have been credited by the National Post as a possible source of the Homolka claims, as well as false claims that Magnotta spent some time living in Los Angeles as a roommate of Timothy Boham, an adult film actor who was himself convicted of murder in 2009. In addition, these profiles were also responsible for the embellished claims about Magnotta’s prominence as a model and porn actor, and also posted numerous other “celebrity gossip” items and opinion pieces on political and social topics. By March 2012, more than two months before Lin’s murder, these online personas were already associating Magnotta’s name with bothnecrophilia and serial killing. Magnotta has also been alleged to have potential links to white supremacy groups; two users on Stormfront who posted in a similar writing style purportedly expressed Magnotta’s views against Chinese and Jewish people, as well as rants about the “slander” and “bullying” he faced from animal rights activists.

In the past, Magnotta had responded to criticisms of him on his personal website, saying that “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 websites have.” An unidentified family member told the Toronto Sun that Magnotta has a personal history of making up rumours and stories about himself for attention: “He will create a conflict, then he will take himself out and he will deny the content of the story, which he in fact started.”

Toronto Sun reporter Joe Warmington, who interviewed Magnotta about the Homolka rumours in 2007, described him as “creepy in more of a seedy side of life way”, and an unidentified family member stated “he hurt us when he was younger and we haven’t been in contact with him in a while.”

During the days in which Magnotta was still at large in France and Germany, several new accounts on YouTube began posting videos of Magnotta, which gained attention as possibly being Magnotta himself. The first such video appeared on May 31 and consisted of news footage of the interior of Magnotta’s apartment and a description that suggested Magnotta had been “framed.” The user who uploaded the video made repeated comments that defended Magnotta and were critical of reports in the news. The Toronto Sun reported on this account, claiming that there was an “80% chance” that it was Magnotta who was posting from this account.However, the user continued posting comments after Magnotta’s arrest.

On June 1, the new YouTube account “HollywoodLoveLetters” uploaded a tribute video to Magnotta consisting of his modelling photos, made numerous comments praising Magnotta, and “liked” a video of a news report on the unsolved “Hollywood Sign Murder” of Hervey Medellin. An article in the New York Observer noted that whoever was behind this account, it raised the question of whether Magnotta was involved in Medellin’s murder. After Magnotta’s arrest, the animal rights group Last Chance for Animals claimed responsibility for the account, stating that they intended to “lure” Magnotta into contacting them. The belief that Magnotta was behind these accounts was facilitated by his extensive online presence of self-promotion, in particular, the numerous personae he had created purporting to be admirers and supporters.

According to police, Magnotta set up at least 70 Facebook pages under different names, and they can be used as evidence against him in court. Police are investigating three additional videos Magnotta may have filmed in Europe while on the run.

Search and arrest

German police mugshot of Magnotta taken following his arrest in Berlin.

The Berlin Police mugshot of Luka Magnotta taken following his arrest.

A Canada-wide arrest warrant for Magnotta was issued, accusing him of the following crimes:

  1. First degree murder;
  2. Committing an indignity to a dead body;
  3. Publishing obscene material;
  4. Mailing “obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous” material; and
  5. Criminally harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several (unnamed) members of Parliament.

On May 31, 2012, Interpol issued a Red Notice for Magnotta at the request of Canadian authorities, and for several days before and after his arrest his name and photo were displayed prominently at the top of the homepage of the Interpol website. The Red Notice requested that Magnotta be provisionally arrested pending extradition back to Canada by anyInterpol member state. It was later confirmed that he left Canada and went to Paris, France. He was seen boarding a bus destined for Berlin, Germany.

Magnotta was apprehended by Berlin Police at an Internet cafe in the Neukölln district on June 4, while reading news stories about himself. He tried giving fake names before admiting who he was. His identity was confirmed through fingerprint evidence. Magnotta appeared in a Berlin court on June 5 and has not yet contested his extradition to Canada. Magnotta is said to be “fearing for his safety” from the other inmates due to his portrayal in the media.

On June 4, 2012, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was pleased that the suspect has been arrested, and wanted to congratulate the police forces on their good work in apprehending the suspect. Liberal Party leader Bob Rae said that Canadians should mourn Lin Jun rather than “in any way, shape or form” celebrate the notoriety of Mr. Magnotta. Friends of Lin Jun expressed relief at the suspect’s capture. On June 6, Jun Lin’s mother openly struggled with her grief as his family arrived at Trudeau Airport in Montreal.

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