Manhunt for porn star accused of dismembering ex-lover starts in France

International search on for suspect said to be behind Canadian cannibalism video circulating online

A global manhunt was under way last night for a one-time low-rent gay porn star who is suspected of murdering, dismembering and cannibalising a Chinese student in Montreal a week ago and then sending body parts to the offices of Canada’s main political parties.

A senior French official said last night he was “sure” that the man, identified as 29-year-old Luka Magnotta, a former model of gay magazines and burlesque performer in his native Toronto, had fled Canada already for France. There was some indication he might travel from France to London where he may once have briefly lived.

In a sickening twist, Magnotta is believed to have filmed the murder and posted a ten-minute video on an internet gore site.  The film reportedly shows him stabbing a naked man with an icepick.  He then reveals that he has already slit the other man’s throat. He performs sexual acts on the corpse and cannibalises it with a knife and fork.

Canadian authorities last week made repeated attempts to take the video off the internet. “It’s horrible. I can’t believe people take advantage of watching this,” Commander Ian Lafreniere of the Montreal police commented.  His department said in a statement that the dead man was Jun Lin, a 33-year-old student from China who may have been dating Magnotta.  Mr Lin had been reported missing and had not been seen since 24 May.

The macabre tale sprang on to the front pages of Canada’s newspapers after police in Montreal found the torso of the victim in a suitcase outside the apartment where Magnotta had been living on Tuesday. Later a package arrived at the Ottawa headquarters of Canada’s ruling Conservative party containing a severed foot.  A hand was then discovered in a different parcel in a postal sorting office addressed to the offices of the Liberal Party.

Meanwhile, in Britain, The Sun claimed that two of its reporters had tracked down Magnotta last year in connection with videos it had received featuring the brutal killing of kittens, in one case by a python. It said it subsequently received an email from a man it believed was Magnotta suggesting he would soon move on from killing animals to humans.  The newspaper said it told Scotland Yard about the man and the email.

“I’ll be back - and this time the victims won’t be animals,” the email said. The author spoke of his affection for London and went on: “I have to say goodbye for now. But don’t worry, in the near future you will be hearing from me again. This time, however, the victims won’t be small animals. I will however, send you a copy of the new video I’m going to be making. You see, killing is different than smoking... with smoking you can actually quit.”

It emerged also that Canada’s largest animal protection group, the SPCA, had last year reached out to sister groups globally, including the RSPCA in Britain, to help it identify the person behind a video posted on YouTube in December 2010 featuring the killing of kittens.

Magnotta, who was born Eric Clinton Newman and has also gone under the name Vladimir Romanov, may be travelling in the guise of a woman, officials warned.  Odder still is the suspect’s alleged fascination with disappearing, which he reportedly described in a posting on the Digital Journal web site three years ago.

“When making the decision to disappear, it is very important to understand that this is not a process that can be successfully accomplished overnight,” it said. “For best results under normal circumstances, a minimum of four months is really necessary to successfully carry out the heroic actions necessary to leave your old life behind. This is certainly not an undertaking to be entered into lightly be completely sure of yourself before you commit to this.”

One of The Sun reporters, Alex West, said he told Limehouse police in East London about his encounter with Magnotta and the email he had sent to the paper. “After an initial response from the officer in the case I then heard nothing more about it. If the police had stopped investigating Magnotta, then I was not told,” he said.

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