MONTREAL — Police confirmed Tuesday they have video evidence Luka Rocco Magnotta, accused of the grisly murder of a Chinese national studying in Montreal, may have eaten some of his victim before sending parts in the mail to political parties.
Investigators also said the right foot, right leg and the head of Lin Jun, 33, are still missing. And several police forces are studying unresolved crimes to see whether Magnotta may be implicated, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
On Tuesday, a human hand and a foot were discovered in Vancouver, each one mailed to a different school in that city. Vancouver police have not linked them to Magnotta.
Montreal police Constable Anie Lemieux said that Montreal police investigators are in contact with Vancouver police to see if there is any link between the packages sent to Vancouver and Lin’s remains.
“You know how it works,” Lemieux said. “It will take some time for tests to analyze what was found in Vancouver and to see if there is any connection with the case in Montreal.”
Lin’s torso was discovered in a suitcase outside a Montreal apartment building on the morning of May 29, sparking a search for suspect that went global. Six days later, on Monday, Magnotta was arrested in an Internet cafe in Berlin.
After offering their condolences to Lin’s family and the Chinese community, Montreal police officers on Tuesday gave a detailed account of the events leading to Magnotta’s capture.
It started with a suitcase that sparked an international manhunt Commander Ian Lafreniere called the biggest in the Montreal force’s history — enlisting the help of police in 190 countries and 30 investigators from France’s national fugitive search unit:
- May 29, 10:15 a.m. Montreal police are called to an apartment building at 5720 Decarie in Snowdon by residents complaining of a foul smell. Lin’s torso is discovered in a suitcase next to a small mountain of garbage bags, old carpets and abandoned furniture in the back of the low-rent apartment complex. Investigators and technicians with Montreal’s Major Crimes Unit spend 18 hours sifting through enough garbage “to fill a 10-wheeler truck” Lafreniere said.
The search turns up body parts, bloody clothing, a “blunt instrument” and papers allowing police to link the crime to Magnotta.
- At 6 p.m., Ottawa police contact Montreal officers to say a package from Montreal containing a foot has been delivered to the headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada.
At the same time, several citizens call police to report a video circulating on the Internet showing a man being killed and dismembered.
“At this point, we know the police in Ottawa had the body part, but we didn’t know if the two were linked,” said Denis Mainville, head of the Major Crimes Unit.
Staff at Canada Post were alerted to look out for suspicious packages from Montreal.
- Meanwhile, police had surveillance video of a nervous-looking Magnotta coming in and out of the apartment building several times with garbage bags. His image matched that of video taken from a Montreal outlet showing him mailing packages. Ottawa Police were advised, a picture of Magnotta sent to them.
- At 9 p.m., postal employees intercepted a package bearing Lin’s hand addressed to the Liberal Party in Ottawa.
- At 11:30 that night, witness statements and personal effects found in the trash led officers, armed with a search warrant, to apartment 208. Inside they found blood on the mattress, table, fridge and freezer.
“We couldn’t say officially that it was the scene of the (murder) but we know there had been a body in that room — it was a crime scene,” Mainville said.
- Quebec’s prosecution bureau was contacted, and a Canadian-wide arrest warrant issued. The Canada Border Services Agency was immediately advised.
They told police Magnotta had flown from Montreal to Paris on May 26, one to two days after the murder was committed, and three days before Lin’s body was found.
- Interpol, the international police organization that funnels information between police forces in 190 countries, was advised. Fourteen hours after Lin’s body was found, the hunt for Magnotta went global. Alerted by Montreal police and provided with evidence and photos, France’s Brigade Nationale de Recherche des Fugitifs, in charge of hunting wanted criminals, assigned 30 officers to the case. Several sightings of Magnotta in Paris were quickly followed by police.
- May 30: Viewing of the video at 4 a.m. allowed Montreal police to ascertain the victim was Asian. They linked this to a missing person’s report filed May 28 for 33-year-old Concordia University student Lin, who was last seen on May 24. A close friend of Lin later confirms the identity.
- May 31: Based on new evidence from the scene and video, Quebec’s prosecution bureau announced it was charging Magnotta with first-degree murder, interfering with a corpse, mailing obscene materials, corrupting morals (via the Internet) and threatening Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
- June 1: An autopsy was performed on Lin. DNA results that arrived Tuesday, minutes before the police news conference, confirmed that body parts at the Snowdon apartment and in Ottawa all belong to him.
- June 4: At 4 a.m. Montreal time (10 a.m. in France) Montreal police were informed that Magnotta was seen boarding a bus for Berlin. At 10:30 a.m., Montreal time, news of Magnotta’s arrest hits the media. At 12:40 p.m., Montreal time, police get confirmation Berlin police have the right man.
“It was a heck of a relief for us to learn through fingerprints that it was the same person we were looking for,” Lafreniere said Tuesday.
Lafreniere and Mainville praised the work of Montreal police labouring through 18 to 20 hour days since the discovery, as well as that of the numerous police forces involved, the media and ordinary citizens who called in more than 400 tips.
“We could not have done it so quickly without all of these factors,” Lafreniere said.
- June 5: Around 1 p.m. Pacific time (4 p.m. in Montreal), two schools in Vancouver each received a package, one containing a human hand and the other a foot. Police were alerted but didn’t specify whether or not they belonged to Lin.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette