Tag Archives: gay serial killers

Gay History: “Uncover: The Village”: A Serial Killer, Toronto’s Gay Community, and a Podcast That Transcends True Crime

Flags outside a community center building on a cloudy day.
“Uncover: The Village,” a podcast about a series of murders in Toronto’s gay community, focusses on the victims, their loved ones, the police, and the community, not on the perpetrator or the crimes.Photograph by Ian Willms / NYT / Redux

Early in the first episode of the new podcast “Uncover: The Village,” from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, we visit the garden of a woman named Karen Fraser, at her house, on a quiet side street in Toronto. It’s August, 2018, and Fraser is showing the podcast’s reporter and host, Justin Ling, her flower beds, or what’s left of them; she describes “tulips and daffodils along here, lots of periwinkle.” All of this, Ling says, “was designed and maintained by her faithful gardener, Bruce.” For the past decade, Fraser allowed a family acquaintance, Bruce McArthur, to use space in her garage to store equipment for his landscaping business. In exchange, he tended to her yard. In early 2018, Toronto police told Fraser and her partner that they would need to leave the property—the police needed to excavate. In what became the largest forensic investigation in Toronto police history, officers found the remains of eight men in Fraser’s planters and a nearby ravine.

In February, McArthur, sixty-seven, was convicted, in a Toronto criminal court, of killing those eight men, all of them gay and six of them immigrant men of color, between 2010 and 2017. McArthur’s conviction, Ling tells us, answered some painful questions that “had hung over Toronto’s queer community for years”—questions that began with an awful series of disappearances, whose horrors of which were compounded by the inadequacy of the police investigation. It also reopened another, possibly related, set of mysteries, which “go back decades, to a time when being gay meant being a target; to when the community had to defend itself, because police wouldn’t; when the closet was, for many, just a safer choice than coming out; to a time when queer people were winding up dead and their killers were getting away with it.”

“The Village” is the third season of “Uncover,” whose previous seasons explore the NXIVM cult and an airplane bombing. “The Village” feels particularly vital; Ling, an investigative journalist who writes and produces the series with Jennifer Fowler and Erin Byrnes, is emotionally invested in the story and has reported it, with thoroughness and care, for five years. (He’s publishing a book on the case in 2020.) A few years ago, Ling tells us, it seemed that police had moved on from investigating the cases of the missing men. “Those disappearances nagged at me,” Ling says. “This was personal. This was my community.” Many, including Ling, suspected that the victims’ “sexuality and their skin color made them easier to forget.” “The Village” is as much a gesture toward healing as it is a work of investigation; its focus is on the victims, their loved ones, the police, and the community, not on McArthur and the murders. The care that Ling brings to the story elevates it beyond true crime; what’s being uncovered isn’t a culprit but a history.

The site of that history is Toronto’s Gay Village. The neighborhood is about three city blocks, Ling says, and it’s decorated with pride flags, rainbow spirals, disco balls, and “a bronze statue of a dapper man with a flowing coat and a walking cane.” The American version of “Queer as Folk” was set in Pittsburgh but filmed there. For many—including foreign-born Canadians and people from small towns in Canada, including Ling—it’s a refuge of sorts. Skandaraj Navaratnam, nicknamed Skanda, had moved there from Sri Lanka and went missing, in 2010, at age forty. Navaratnam was “hilarious,” his friend Joel Walker says, and he loved him for it. “If I was in a bad mood, he’d draw it out of me, and immediately I’d be fine.” Skanda was a skilled pool player; he liked to wear jewelry; he liked older men, whom he called “silver daddies.” One of these was McArthur—who was “very, very jealous and very, very obsessive and controlling,” Walker says. One day, Navaratnam disappeared, without his wallet, his I.D., and his beloved puppy. His friends were panicked, with little recourse beyond “Missing” posters and police efforts that seemed to lead nowhere.

We hear such details about several of McArthur’s victims. Majeed Kayhan, known as Hamid, had moved to Canada from Kabul, with his wife and kids, and had struggled to come out to his family; his friend Kyle Andrews had seen him with McArthur. Abdulbasir Faizi, an Afghan immigrant with a wife and children, disappeared in December, 2010. The police set up a task force to investigate the three disappearances and asked the public to come forward with information. Kyle Andrews talked to them; they discussed Bruce McArthur.

In a recording, from 2016, Ling asks Toronto police for information, and they give him a two-page report about their investigation. Flagging the men’s credit cards and alerting border agencies, the summary said, had “not returned any evidence as to their whereabouts or even a path of where they may have headed.” Ling is flabbergasted—where they may have headed? Implying that the men had skipped town seems willfully disingenuous. In 2017, Selim Esen, an immigrant from Turkey, went missing; two months later, Andrew Kinsman, a widely beloved, and white, bartender, disappeared without his medication or his cat, further terrifying an increasingly anxious community. On the last day Kinsman was seen, he’d written a word on his calendar: “Bruce.” In the photograph on his “Missing” poster, Ling says, he was wearing a Bob & Doug McKenzie T-shirt.

Friends say that it “took some coaxing” for the police to realize that Kinsman hadn’t just left town. “You kind of had to underscore to them that this was very out of character for him,” a friend says. Police set up another task force, to investigate the disappearances of Esen and Kinsman, and held a meeting at a community center in the Village which was tense and packed. We hear some of it. Police say that they’ve found “no evidence of criminality,” no evidence to link the disappearances, no evidence of a serial killer. A month after the meeting, they arrested McArthur, after finding Kinsman’s and Selim’s DNA in his van. Their remains, along with those of Esen, Navaratnam, Kayhan, and Faizi, were found around Karen Fraser’s property, as were those of three men who had not been part of the police’s task-force investigations: Soroush Mahmudi, an immigrant from Iran with a wife and stepson; Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, a refugee from Sri Lanka; and Dean Lisowick, who was homeless at the time of his disappearance and whose absence was not reported.

This all plays out in the first two episodes, which illustrate why the community felt not just particularly vulnerable but also unheard by the police, who seemed under-aware of the community’s particular needs and reluctant to seriously take murder as a possibility. In the third episode, Ling takes the narrative on a sharp turn—back to cold-case mysteries that he mentioned at the beginning of the series and the tortured history between police and the gay community in Toronto. In the seventies, a rash of murders of gay men struck the city, several of them characterized by “overkill”—excessive brutality that marks a crime as rage-driven, personal. At that time, McArthur, then in his twenties, had worked nearby. Could he have been involved? As Toronto police look for McArthur’s fingerprints amid old cases—communicating little about the details—Ling investigates, too. “I figure if Toronto Police are dusting off a bunch of cold-case murders, so will I,” he says.

In the process, he re-creates some of the world of the Village in the seventies, revealing joy and pain in equal measure. A gay bar called David’s Discotheque, one of the neighborhood’s first gay-owned gay bars, featured a life-sized fountain replica of Michelangelo’s David in the middle of the dance floor. “I realize it sounds a bit tacky, but I wish so badly this place was still open,” Ling says. “This would be my kind of club.” Its owner, Sandy LeBlanc, was killed in 1978, at age twenty-nine—stabbed dozens of times, in his apartment. Ling tracks down LeBlanc’s siblings, in rural New Brunswick, who talk about their brother and the case with extraordinary grace. He talks to police, too, including a well-meaning retired cop who had understood the “overkill” murders to be the work of gay killers who “had not come to terms with their sexual problems.” Gay sex wasn’t decriminalized in Canada until 1969, and many police officers and straight civilians associated it with criminality. In the seventh episode, Ling talks to a kindly widower whose partner died in 1979, in police custody, after he was arrested by “morality officers” in the men’s room of a gay bar. Raids on sexual activity in bars and bathhouses were common; growing frustration with these raids helped lead to gay-rights activism in Toronto.

As he investigates all of this, Ling makes fascinating headway. One of the most compelling things about this podcast—and there are many—is the sensitivity with which he seeks out and listens to the people who felt neglected for so long. “Uncover: The Village” is thoughtfully produced, but it doesn’t signal to you, as many crime-related podcasts do, that it’s entertainment. Its minimal music reflects your emotions without manipulating them; Ling’s narration isn’t self-dramatizing. The series is engrossing because of its powerful story, Ling’s dogged and far-ranging reporting, its sympathetic characters, compelling scenes, and a patient, well-paced narrative. But those elements can be found in good true crime. What sets “Uncover” apart is that it aims to serve something beyond its audience: more than a whodunit, the series feels like a kind of truth-and-reconciliation commission, in podcast form. What’s important isn’t the edification of those listening but the solace of those being heard.

How alleged Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur went unnoticed

The property where police say they recovered the remains of several bodies from planters connected to Bruce McArthur in Toronto, Canada, on 3 February.
The property where police say they recovered the remains of several bodies from planters connected to Bruce McArthur in Toronto, Canada, on 3 February. Photograph: Rob Gilles/AP

A friendly gardener and mall Santa, McArthur may also have been the worst ever serial killer of gay men. As Toronto police reopen 25 cold cases dating back to 1975, they are facing tough questions about decades of hostility to the gay communityDavid Graham in TorontoSat 23 Jun 2018 17.00 AEST

When the biggest forensic investigation in Toronto history began, it was still possible to be blind to the full extent of the horror.

On 18 January 2018, in the mid-morning, Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old freelance landscaper, entered his Thorncliffe Park apartment building in Toronto, accompanied by a young man.

McArthur had been placed under 24-hour police watch the previous day. The surveillance officers had instructions to arrest him if they saw him alone with someone else.

They ascended to McArthur’s 19th-floor apartment and broke down the door. Inside, they found his companion already tied to the bed.

McArthur was charged with the murder of Andrew Kinsman, 49, who had gone missing shortly after Pride Day on 26 June 2017, and Selim Esen, 44, who was reported missing about two months earlier.

As a particularly cold winter dragged on into February, the city was horrified as police began to unearth the remains of corpses buried inside more than a dozen decorative planters. The planters were located outside a modest home, on Mallory Crescent in the Leaside area of the city, where McArthur had been employed as a gardener.

Police issued a plea to anyone who might have used McArthur’s services, and deployed cadaver dogs to multiple locations across Toronto. They erected tents and used heaters to thaw the frozen ground. Forensic investigators combed over McArthur’s two-bedroom apartment for months, removing 1,800 pieces of evidence and photographing every square inch.

The number of murder charges grew to five (Majeed Kayhan, 58; Dean Lisowick, 47; and Soroush Mahmudi, 50), then eight (Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40; Abdulbasir Faizi, 44; and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37).

Six of the men were south Asian or Middle Eastern. All of them were gay.

A composite of five of the men Bruce McArthur is accused of killing, provided by the Toronto police service. From left to right: Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Andrew Kinsman and Majeed Kayhan.
A composite of five of the men Bruce McArthur is accused of killing, provided by the Toronto police service. From left to right: Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Andrew Kinsman and Majeed Kayhan. Photograph: AP

The LGBT community in Toronto was shocked, bereaved – and furious. From 2010 to 2017, gay men had been disappearing in alarming numbers from Toronto’s lively gay village. Many locals had long suspected a serial killer.

Long-simmering tensions with the Toronto police boiled over. Organisers demanded to know why the force hadn’t taken their fears more seriously. Some argued that police were too slow to warn the community of a possible serial killer, saying lives could have been saved.

To make matters worse, Toronto police appeared to put some blame on the gay community for the killings when chief Mark Saunders told reporters that they might have caught McArthur sooner had residents of the gay village been more forthcoming. “We knew that people were missing and we knew we didn’t have the right answers,” Saunders said. “But nobody was coming to us with anything.”

Toronto police had already been banned in 2017 from the Gay Pride parade, following lobbying from Toronto’s chapter of Black Lives Matter. Their request to participate in 2018 was refused.

Then, in April, in a move that some have interpreted as an acknowledgment of their neglect of the gay community, police announced that they were reopening 25 cold cases – all murders associated with Toronto’s gay village. 

They date from 1997 all the way back to 1975. 

And no one is suggesting it is over.

From Santa to serial killer

While investigators are still developing a profile of the alleged serial killer, they are certain of one thing. The jolly-looking McArthur, who is divorced and has two grown children, did not have the menacing countenance of a serial murderer. 

In fact, he was so convincingly harmless looking that he was able to play Santa in at least one suburban shopping mall. His age, as well as his unthreatening appearance – round features and a broad, cheery smile – made him seem approachable to children shopping with their parents, as well as to gay men seeking a dark sexual encounter with someone they could trust.

Bruce McArthur in a photo posted on a social media account.
Bruce McArthur in a photo posted on a social media account.Photograph: Reuters

After divorcing his wife, McArthur, who had been active on his church board in Oshawa, east of Toronto, became a regular in the city’s gay village. He trolled hook-up sites like Manjam and Recon, where the “silver fox” made his taste for submissive men clear – especially those who wanted to test the limits of their curiosity for dangerous sex.Advertisementnull

McArthur had been brought to the attention of local police in 2002, when he was arrested for attacking a gay prostitute with a metal bar. He was sentenced in 2003 to two years probation and told to stay away from the gay village.

In 2010, reports started to come through of men going missing from the village. The first, Skandaraj Navaratnam, rests particularly heavily on the mind of Haran Vijayanathan, executive director of the Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention (ASAAP). 

Both men are Sri Lankan, Tamil and gay. “I saw myself in Skanda,” says Vijayanathan. “He represents my greatest fear.”

That fear – one faced by immigrant and refugee men in an unfamiliar gay community – is nothing new. Just as gay men from North Bay and Moose Jaw flocked to Toronto in the 1970s to live free and open lives, a new generation of gay men from south Asia and the Middle East have been drawn to Canadain the last 20 years for the same reasons. The new arrivals may revel in Canada’s acceptance, but they are still vulnerable – still suspicious of authority, reluctant to attract attention, perhaps too eager to fit in. And perhaps too trusting of a gentle-looking older man who appears harmless.

Predators thrive on marginalized groups, says University of Toronto associate professor of sociology Jooyoung Lee, an expert in violent crime and serial homicide. Gay men – particularly gay refugees or other relatively new Canadians – fit into a population that includes prostitutes, aboriginal women and immigrants.

And then there is what Lee refers to as “missing white woman syndrome”: the idea that police, media and the public are less inclined to pay attention to crimes that are perpetrated on marginalized communities. 

Vijayanathan, who is one of the most outspoken critics of how Toronto let its gay community down, insists that police only took the investigations seriously when Andrew Kinsman, one of two white victims, was reported missing. 

But he also points to racism within the gay community – comparing the massive local search mounted after the reported disappearance of the other white victim, Andrew Kinsman, with the slower and less cohesive response to the disappearances of the brown-skinned victims.

Vijayanathan also believes the families of some of the missing immigrant men failed to report their disappearance. 

Isolation, combined with a fear of police, has marginalized members of our community and made them more vulnerable

Tom HooperAdvertisementnull

In some cases, he says, the disappearances were the first time family members learned their relative was gay (or MSM, men who have sex with men but don’t identify as gay). Others worried about interfering in a family member’s claim for refugee status. Still others worked under the table and didn’t want to attract the attention of authorities. For example, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam was a Tamil refugee who came to Canada in 2016 and was never reported missing, and after Navaratnam’s refugee claim was denied he rarely left the confines of the gay village.

“Throughout our history, people have come to the city as a refuge and a place to explore their sexuality – often without the knowledge of their family and friends,” says Tom Hooper, a York University historian who has devoted much of his studies to the gay experience in Toronto in the 1970s.

But Hooper also points the finger at police. “For both gay men in the 1970s and queer people of colour today, the police have been enforcers but not protectors. Isolation, combined with a fear of police, has marginalized members of our community and made them more vulnerable to violence.”

Homophobic atmosphere

The difficult relationship between Toronto’s gay community and police force coincides with reports of missing gay men going back decades. As long as 40 years ago, 14 gay men were murdered in Toronto in just a few years. Seven of those cases remain unsolved.

The brutal stabbing death of William Duncan Robinson at his home in November 1978 came shortly after the popular 1970s gay magazine the Body Politic to question the sluggish police response to the string of murders, and the official stance that they were unrelated: “Could they have been committed by one man?” asked an October 1978 headline. “The police aren’t saying. But the crimes do show a certain similarity …”

It has been suggested that McArthur, who has not yet entered a plea in the eight charges nor been charged for any of the cold cases, could be responsible for some of those murders. Serial killers rarely begin their murder sprees late in life, and McArthur would have been in his 20s and early 30s back then. Critics dispute that theory by pointing to a very different manner of execution and body disposal: the 1970s murders were mostly stabbings, and the victims were left where they were killed.

What is indisputable is that police never caught the killer, or killers – and it’s hardly a stretch to imagine that they didn’t feel much pressure to do so in the homophobic atmosphere of the era.

It was a holiday tradition each Halloween during the 1960s and 70s for Toronto residents to taunt gay men, especially drag queens, as they entered bars on Yonge Street like the St Charles Tavern and the Parkside. They pelted eggs, which turned into rocks, which turned into beatings on darkened side streets. 

Police mostly looked the other way, recalls the Rev Brent Hawkes, a longtime leader of the city’s gay rights movement who was once himself restrained on a sidewalk by two officers as a third punched him. “Stories of men being arrested and taken to Cherry Beach for a beating were common,” he says. Officers would lurk beside the urinals in bars, waiting for men to engage in a sexual act. Entrapment was widespread at department stores, universities and hotels such as Hudson’s Bay, the Royal York and the University of Toronto.

“Sex had to be quick and anonymous,” says Hooper. “There was no courtship that led to sex. If you were married and lived in the suburbs – and you were gay – you had to hook up on your lunch break.”

Police raid the Club bathhoue in Toronto on 6 February 1981.
Police raid the Club bathhouse in Toronto on 6 February 1981.Photograph: Frank Lennon/Toronto Star/Getty

The constant harassment by police reach the boiling point in 1981, when 200 police officers descended on four gay bathhouses. They marched through the corridors, swinging crowbars and sledgehammers, breaking down doors and corralling groups of men into showers and lounge areas. One officer reportedly commented that he wished the showers were hooked up to gas, Hooper said. Men were arrested and charged according to the city’s antiquated bawdy house laws.

A few of the officers were apologetic, but another boisterous contingent “seemed to enjoy it – like jocks in a frat house”, says Hooper.Advertisementnull

By morning, 250 men had been charged. The humiliation caused some to contemplate suicide. Others were fired from their jobs after police officers called their employers. Many lost the support of family and friends.

The raids were a tipping point for Toronto’s gay community. Like the Stonewall riots in New York, the bathhouse raids ignited a fury that led to the city’s modern gay pride movement. Though there had been small events held in previous years, the first official Pride parade was held that spring.

Now it’s one of the largest in the world: when the 38th annual Toronto Pride parade takes place this coming Sunday, it will attract close to one million spectators. Sponsors include Home Depot and New Balance, and regular attendees include the prime minster, Justin Trudeau, and the mayor of Toronto, John Tory.

Pride parade participants display names of the Orlando Pulse nightclub victims on Yonge Street during a moment of silence in Toronto on 3 July 2016. Photograph: Ian Willms/Getty Images

But even as Toronto’s more established gay community gains strength, new arrivals continue to lead marginal, vulnerable lives.

DS Hank Idsinga, 50, the lead investigator on the most high-profile of murder cases, is keenly aware of media criticism that police did not take the missing persons reports or speculation of a serial killer seriously because the men were gay and mostly brown-skinned.

Idsinga, who joined police services in 1989, acknowledges it will take time to regain the trust of the gay community. He says he is disheartened by the accounts of the bathhouse raids and the history of police hostility. “I’m open to criticism,” he says. “It’s a byproduct of the job. You can block it out or you can listen.” He points out that he was recently scolded by a reporter for using the expression “gay lifestyle”, and promises: “I will avoid the term from now on.”Advertisementhttps://b0f547aeb67887e14b7a145fa28e345d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The decision to open the cold cases – Idsinga estimates the number of unresolved cases of murdered gay men at 20 or more – is a belated attempt to make something very wrong at least a bit more right. “I’m not that police officer from 30 years ago,” he says of his attitude to the past. “What can I do to help now?”

A community at risk

There has always been a small community of gay men who thrill at risky sex, bondage, humiliation and even torture. Assured that they are engaging in role playing, such men submit to their putative captors, who methodically and ritualistically push them to – and perhaps beyond – their “edge”.

Sean Cribbin, 50, was one man who had experimented in this fashion. Last summer, he says accepted an online invitation to meet McArthur early one afternoon.

Almost a year later, he marvels that he is alive. 

A former Mr Leatherman in Toronto, Cribbin told Global TV in a wide-ranging interview that he felt comfortable submitting to McArthur’s wishes because he looked so unthreatening. 

He even brought up the rumour of a serial killer attacking gay men in Toronto, but says McArthur didn’t respond.

Unlike McArthur, Cribbin has a tough appearance: sleeve tattoos, a black beard and a thick nose ring. But his voice is soft and his comments thoughtful. “I was the lucky one,” he said. “It could happen to anyone.”

First, Cribbin says he accepted the GHB cocktail prepared by McArthur, having asked him to limit the dose to 5ml – the right amount to put him at ease, cause euphoria and “heighten the sexual encounter”.

What if the roommate hadn’t arrived home when he did? I would have simply disappeared

Sean Cribbin

But after Cribbins says he accepted the restraints McArthur suggested, and with McArthur’s penis in Cribbin’s mouth, his hands tight around his neck and his considerable weight on his chest, Cribbin claims he began sweating heavily – a signal that he had been “over-drugged” – and was overcome with dread.

Just then, Cribbin says he heard McArthur’s roommate enter the apartment – an excuse for Cribbin to end the date, dress and return home.

Six months later, police reportedly approached Cribbin with a photograph of him taken from McArthur’s home, showing him restrained in what investigators called “the kill position” – moments from certain death. Advertisementhttps://b0f547aeb67887e14b7a145fa28e345d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Cribbin, who is in an open relationship, says he is ashamed that he didn’t tell his partner where he was going that sunny afternoon, that he survived while others died. For the first time in his life, he’s afraid of the dark, and he worries the experience may turn him off sex completely.

“What if the roommate hadn’t arrived home when he did?” Cribbin said. “I would have simply disappeared.”

‘One foot in the department and one foot in the gay community’

Police may never unearth the full extent of McArthur’s alleged carnage, but if it is proven in court it could be compared to the atrocities of Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 17 boys in Milwaukee between 1978 and 1991, or John Wayne Gacy, who murdered 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. As the investigation deepens, police are under tremendous pressure to solve the crimes – which means trying to understand the man that investigators think is behind them.

“[McArthur] probably got a kick out of tricking men into believing he was harmless,” says Lee, who knows that investigators are struggling to get inside McArthur’s head, investigating his social circles and his online activities. Investigators will also want to understand the rituals associated with the killings and the complicated procedures involved in the disposal of his victims’ remains – not least how to fit the corpses into the planters. (Many have speculated that McArthur’s job as a landscaper could involve the use of equipment such as chainsaws and wood chippers.)

Lee believes McArthur was probably in a perpetual search “for the next kill that would top the last one. [Serial killers] become overwhelmed by the fantasy, constantly studying the craft of killing, the details of the murder and the memory of his actions afterward … He would get a small rush every time he revisited the remains of the people he killed.”

How McArthur may have slipped up, or why police decided to place him under surveillance, Idsinga won’t say. But, according to Lee, one thing is certain. “Killing requires practice,” he says. “They are seldom perfect in the beginning. Serial killers are caught when they get sloppy.”

A candlelight prayer vigil for the victims Bruce McArthur allegedly killed at Metropolitan Community church in Toronto on 4 February. Photograph: Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images

But as well as getting into the head of McArthur, it means trying to heal a rift with the gay community that stretches back decades. 

This Sunday’s otherwise jubiliant Pride parade will end with a contingent of organizers dressed in black, to pay respect to the victims of the killer and to all LGBTQ people who don’t feel safe in their own community.

While some in the gay community argue that this is a time for healing – and that police participation is crucial if the gay community is going to move forward – Black Lives Matter is not so eager to forgive, insisting that banning uniformed officers is a needed protest against broader police neglect and abuse.

Shortly after McArthur’s arrest, the mayor acknowledged that police had failed to react appropriately to the multiple disappearances, and called for an independent investigation into the department’s response.

Vijayanathan, who is the Honoured Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade and was the chief advocate of a third-party inquest into the investigation of the killings, is torn. He’s still angry over what he calls “a gross mishandling of missing person reports”. But he is pleased at the mayor’s response, and acknowledges that to heal, the community will have to work with police. He also expresses sympathy for the many LGBTQ members on Toronto’s police force who usually enjoy marching in uniform in the Parade.

Hawkes says he has witnessed the growing maturity of the department over the decades – with an emphasis placed on sensitivity training and recruiting gay officers, including an openly lesbian deputy chief. 

“I don’t want to sound like a defender of the police but I am cautiously optimistic things will get better,” he says, “because I’ve seen that progress in possible.” He also knows that gay and lesbian police officers are devastated that they’ve been rejected by the Pride committee. “They’ve got one foot in the police department and one foot in the gay community,” he says. 

Idsinga says: “I’d rather see police services participate. And because of the McArthur case, I’d like to participate myself.”

In the meantime, there are now dozens of cold cases to investigate.

“This community has been victimized for years,” Idsinga says. “It’s our job to stop that.”

This article was amended on 25 June 2018. An earlier version said Dean Lisowick had been reported missing; that reference has been corrected to Andrew Kinsman.


Gay History: Luka Rocco Magnotta

Born Eric Clinton Kirk NewmanClassification: MurdererCharacteristics: Cannibalism – Necrophilia – Dismemberment – Snuff movieNumber of victims: 1Date of murder: May 24, 2012Date of arrest: June 4, 2012 (in Berlin)Date of birth: July 24, 1982Victim profile: Jun Lin, 33 (Chinese university student)Method of murder: Stabbing with an ice pick and a kitchen knifeLocation: Griffintown, Montreal, Quebec, CanadaStatus: In prison awaiting trial

Newman’s Grade 10 yearbook photo from 1999.
(Jon Hembry/CBC)
Luka Magnotta
Police remove a bag containing a human foot that was delivered to the Conservative Party of Canada’s
headquarters in downtown Ottawa.
Montreal police said the grisly garbage discovery was the city’s 11th homicide of the year.
Interpol released images reportedly showing suspect Luka Magnotta passing through security at an airport.
Here, CCTV footage from the café shows Magnotta, second from left, being taken into custody
by police on June 4, 2012
(Associated Press)
Kadir Anlayisli, who identified Luka Rocco Magnotta and warned police, stands next to
the Berlin internet café where the suspect was arrested.
(Markus Schreiber/Associated Press)
Mugshot of Luka Magnotta, taken by German police after his arrest in Berlin on June 4, 2012.
Luka Magnotta is taken from plane in Canada.
Lin (30 December 1978 – May 2012) also known as Justin Lin, was an international student from Wuhan
and an undergraduate in the engineering and computer science faculty at Concordia University.

Luka Rocco Magnotta (born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman; July 24, 1982) is a Canadian pornographic actor and model accused of killing and dismembering Lin Jun, a Chinese international student, then mailing his severed limbs to political parties and elementary schools.

After a 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 at an Internet café in Berlin while reading news about himself.

He was previously sought by animal rights groups for allegedly uploading videos of himself killing kittens.


Eric Clinton Kirk Newman was born in July 24, 1982 in Scarborough, Ontario. He attended I. E. Weldon Secondary School in Lindsay. He legally changed his name to Luka Rocco Magnotta on August 12, 2006.

In 2003, he began to appear in gay pornographic videos, occasionally working as a stripper and a male escort. He 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 in OUTtv’s reality series COVERguy. Magnotta had multiple cosmetic surgeries and auditioned for Slice network show Plastic Makes Perfect in February 2008.

In 2005, he was convicted of one count of impersonation and three counts of fraud (against Sears Canada, The Brick, and 2001 Audio Video) after impersonating a woman to apply for a credit card and purchasing over $10,000 worth of goods. He pleaded guilty and received a nine-month conditional sentence with 12 months of probation.

Magnotta declared bankruptcy in March 2007, owing $17,000 in various debts. The bankruptcy was fully discharged in December 2007.

Rumors emerged in 2007 claiming Magnotta was in a relationship with Karla Homolka, a high-profile Canadian murderer, though he denied this in an interview with the Toronto Sun. During the murder investigation, Montreal police initially announced the pair had dated but subsequently retracted the statement and acknowledged that they had no evidence to corroborate the claim.

Many profiles on various internet social media and discussion forums were created over several years to plant false or unverified claims about Magnotta. Magnotta himself repeatedly dismissed such accounts as hoaxes and part of a campaign of cyber stalking against him. According to police, Magnotta set up at least 70 Facebook pages and 20 websites under different names.

Murder of Lin Jun

Lin Jun (Chinese: 林俊; pinyin: Lín Jùn) (30 December 1978 – May 2012) also known as Justin Lin, was an international student from Wuhan and an undergraduate in the engineering and computer science faculty at Concordia University. He worked part-time as a convenience store clerk in Pointe-Saint-Charles. Lin had been studying in Montreal since July 2011. Lin moved into a Griffintown-area apartment with a roommate on May 1. He was last seen on May 24, 2012 and his friends reported getting a text message from his phone at 9 PM. His boss became suspicious when he didn’t show up for his shift the next day. Three of his friends went into his apartment on May 27. He was reported missing to police on May 29.

On May 25, 2012, an 11-minute video titled 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick was uploaded to Bestgore.com depicting a naked male tied to a bed frame being repeatedly stabbed with an ice pick and a kitchen knife, then dismembered, followed by acts of necrophilia. The perpetrator uses a knife and fork to cut off some of the flesh and gets a dog to chew on the body. 

During the video, the 1987 New Order song “True Faith” plays in the background, and a poster for the 1942 film Casablanca is visible on the wall. Canadian authorities were able to obtain a “more extensive” version of the video and confirmed that cannibalism may have been performed. Materials promoting the video appeared online at least 10 days before the murder took place.

On May 26, an attorney from Montana attempted to report the video to Toronto Police, his local Sheriff, and the FBI, but the report was dismissed by officials. Bestgore viewers also attempted to report the video. Police later confirmed it as authentic and identified the victim, an Asian male, as the same one whose body parts were sent to Ottawa.

At 11 AM on May 29, 2012, a package containing a left foot was delivered to the national headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. The package was stained with blood and had a foul smell. It was marked with a red heart symbol. Another package containing a left hand was intercepted in a Canada Post processing facility, addressed to the Liberal Party. A janitor discovered a decomposing torso inside a suitcase, left in a garbage pile in the alley behind an apartment building in the Snowdon area of Montreal. He first saw the suitcase on the 25th, but it was not picked up due to the large amount of garbage that day.

After searching the scene, police recovered human remains, bloody clothes, papers identifying the suspect, as well as “sharp and blunt objects” from the back alley. Footage from surveillance cameras inside the building showed a suspect bringing numerous garbage bags outside, and the images matched a suspect captured on video at the post office in Côte-des-Neiges.

At 23:33 EDT (03:33 UTC), police searched apartment 208, which Luka Rocco Magnotta was renting. He moved in four months prior, and his rent was paid up to June 1. The apartment had been mostly emptied before he left. Blood was found on different items including the mattress, the refrigerator, the table, and the bathtub. “If you don’t like the reflection. Don’t look in the mirror. I don’t care.” was written in red ink on the inside of a closet.

On May 30, 2012, it was confirmed that the body parts belonged to the same individual, later identified as Lin Jun. The suspect in the case was quickly identified as Magnotta, who had by then fled.

A note was found with the package sent to the Conservative Party, stating that a total of six body parts have been distributed and that the perpetrator would kill again. Notes were also included in the other three packages, but police declined to disclose their contents, citing concerns about possible copycats.

On June 5, 2012, a package containing a right foot was delivered to St. George’s School and another package containing a right hand to False Creek Elementary School in Vancouver. Both schools opened as normal the following morning. It was confirmed that both packages were sent from Montreal.

On June 13, the four limbs and the torso were matched to Lin Jun using DNA samples from his family. On July 1, his head was recovered at the edge of a small lake in Montreal’s Angrignon Park after police received an anonymous tip.

Lin’s body was cremated on July 11 and his ashes were buried on July 26 at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery in Montreal.

Luka Magnotta with his mother.
Luka Magnotta
Luka Magnotta
Luka Magnotta


An arrest warrant for him was issued by the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), later upgraded to a Canada-wide warrant by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), 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 any Interpol member state.

Magnotta flew from Montreal to Paris on May 26, using a false passport under the name Kirk Trammel. His cell phone signal was traced to a hotel in Bagnolet, but he had left by the time police arrived. Pornographic magazines and an air-sickness bag were found in the hotel room. He had contacts in Paris from a previous visit in 2010, and police were following a large-framed man who had been in contact with Magnotta. Another man he stayed with for two nights did not realize who he was until he had left. Magnotta then boarded a Eurolines bus at the Bagnolet coach station bound for Berlin, Germany.

On June 4, 2012, Magnotta was apprehended by Berlin Police at an Internet café in the Neukölln district while reading news stories about himself. He tried giving fake names before admitting who he was. His identity was confirmed through fingerprint evidence. Magnotta appeared in a Berlin court on June 5, 2012. According to German officials, he had not opposed his extradition. There was sufficient evidence to keep him in custody until extradition, and he agreed to a simplified process.

On June 18, 2012, Magnotta was delivered to Canadian authorities in Berlin and flown aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-150 Polaris to Mirabel International Airport, north of Montreal. A military transport was necessary due to safety concerns with using a commercial flight and potential legal difficulties if the plane was diverted to another country. He was placed into solitary confinement at the Rivière-des-Prairies detention centre.


Reactions in China were highly critical, with some believing the murder was racially motivated. Some Chinese questioned public safety in Canada, as the killing was the second high-profile murder of a Chinese student there in slightly over a year. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai to convey his condolences.

On June 4, 2012, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was pleased that the suspect was arrested and congratulated the police forces on their good work in apprehending him. Interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae said that Canadians should mourn the victim rather than “in any way, shape or form” celebrate Magnotta’s notoriety.

Two days later, Lin Jun’s family arrived at Trudeau Airport in Montreal. The Chinese Students and Scholars Association of Concordia University established a fund to defray expenses incurred by Lin’s family while in Canada and an award was created in his honor. A candlelight vigil was held in Montreal.

Magnotta was named Canadian Newsmaker of the Year by Canadian media, which caused controversy.

On July 16, 2013, Edmonton police charged BestGore.com owner Mark Marek with “corrupting morals”, a rarely used obscenity charge, for posting the 1 Lunatic 1 Icepick video online.

Luke Magnotta

Legal proceedings

Preliminary hearing

On June 19, Magnotta appeared in court by video link to plead not guilty to all charges through his lawyer. On June 21, Magnotta appeared in person at a high-security Montreal courtroom to request a trial by jury.

A preliminary hearing began on March 11, 2013. The evidence presented is subject to a publication ban. Magnotta’s defence team requested the media and the public be barred entirely from the hearing; this was declined the next day. Lin Jun’s father, Lin Diran, travelled from China to attend the hearing. On March 13, one of Magnotta’s lawyers resigned, due to a possible conflict of interest. Expert witnesses testified, including a forensic pathologist, a forensic toxicologist, a forensic odontologist, a bloodstain analyst, data recovery specialists and an Internet investigations officer. The prosecution also displayed video evidence. Both Magnotta and Lin physically collapsed at separate times during the proceedings.

On April 12, 2013, Luka Magnotta was indicted on charges of first degree murder, offering indignities to a human body, distributing obscene materials, using the postal service to distribute obscene materials and criminal harassment.


Following committal for trial, the preliminary inquiry judge set a tentative trial for the fall of 2014 on April 29, 2013. Magnotta elected to be tried by judge and jury.

Investigation into other possible crimes

Magnotta is alleged to be the person behind a series of videos of animal cruelty involving cats which were posted to YouTube beginning in 2010, including one titled “1 boy 2 kittens” which showed a man deliberately suffocating two kittens with a vacuum cleaner.

In January 2011, professional model and animal rights activist Sia Barbi joined a private Facebook group who had identified Magnotta as the person in these videos; subsequently animal rights activist groups offered a $5,000 reward for bringing him to justice.

In February 2011, Toronto police began investigating Magnotta in connection with the videos after receiving a complaint from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals The OSPCA also contacted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England, the FBI, and police in Montreal due to the suspect’s extensive travels.

Alex West, a journalist for British tabloid newspaper The Sun, met Magnotta while he was living in London in 2011, following claims that he had made “Python Christmas”, an online video showing a kitten being eaten alive by a Burmese Python. The Sun contacted Scotland Yard, which denied that the python video incident had occurred within its jurisdiction, stating that the video had been “posted from somewhere in North America.” Following his meeting with Magnotta, Alex West said he received a threatening email, which he believed was sent by Magnotta.

On June 8, the Los Angeles Police Department announced they were in contact with Montreal police to determine if Magnotta was involved in the unsolved murder and decapitation of Hervey Medellin, known as the “Hollywood Sign Murder” but later announced that they did not believe he was involved in the crime. The animal rights group Last Chance for Animals claimed responsibility for posting YouTube videos linking him to the Hollywood Sign Murder in an attempt to lure Magnotta into contacting them. LCA offered a $7500 reward for information leading to his arrest while he was on the run.

The case also drew comparisons across North America to Mark Twitchell, a convicted murderer inspired by Dexter, who used social media in his crimes and to self-promote his work.[98] Author Steve Lillebuen, who wrote a book on the case, described a new trend in crime where social media allows killers to become “online broadcasters” and have direct, instant access to a global audience they may crave.


Luka Magnotta: Owner of gore website rearrested in Edmonton

The Canadian Press

July 26, 2013

EDMONTON – Police in Edmonton say they have arrested a website owner who faces charges over a grisly video at the centre of the Luka Magnotta murder case.

A warrant was issued Thursday for Mark Marek on a charge of breaching conditions of his bail, which a judge granted last week.

Police say the 38-year-old was picked up at a gas station after they received a tip that led them to a nearby Edmonton-area storage facility.

Marek was originally charged with one count of corrupting morals for allegedly posting a video from Magnotta while knowing it depicted a real killing.

The video allegedly showed the killing and dismemberment of Chinese university student Jun Lin in Montreal.

Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to murder and is to stand trial in September 2014.

At Marek’s bail hearing, the Crown opposed his release, pointing out he had no Edmonton address and had made it clear to police that he planned to go back to his native Slovakia. Police had said he had been living out of his car since he returned to the city.

The defence said Marek had planned to visit family in the eastern European country in September, but didn’t intend to run away from his legal problems.

Marek told the judge that officers had already seized his passport.

Why Luka Magnotta’s trial won’t happen until 2014

Judge, courtroom availability key factors

By Daniel Schwartz, CBC News 

May 7, 2013

Luka Magnotta’s murder trial is set for Sept. 15, 2014. Although that date is more than two years after his arrest in connection with the death of Jun Lin, that is not an unusual amount of time for a high-profile murder case to reach the trial stage.

Some have questioned why it takes so long for cases like Magnotta’s to get to court. Lukatrial.com, for example, the popular website that has been following the case from the beginning, says, “I will never understand how we can delay justice for so long in a case like this.”

The key determinant in most cases has to do with judicial resources, rather than issues related to the defence or the prosecution.

Ottawa criminal lawyer Ian Carter told CBC News that the 16-month delay between the preliminary hearing and Magnotta’s trial before judge and jury is not unusual. A trial like Magnotta’s “is normally set that far in advance because they need to find a courtroom and a judge.”

The Magnotta trial is expected to last six to eight weeks, a relatively big block of court time. The court facilities, the judge, the lawyers and the witnesses all need to be available at the same time, and there are always other trials in the queue competing for timeslots.

In the Magnotta case, his lawyer, Luc Leclair, had requested an earlier start date — April 2014 — but last week Justice Andre Vincent said September was the earliest possibility. “It’s a busy courthouse,” Leclair told reporters, adding, “I’m not completely surprised.”

Reasonable time

There are others factors as well that play a role in setting the date. The starting point is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states, “Any person charged with an offence has the right … to be tried within a reasonable time.”

Section 11 of the Charter is also the one that says anyone charged should “be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

A defendant who is to be tried by a superior court judge alone or a judge and jury usually has the right to a preliminary hearing. Magnotta’s wrapped up April 12 with an order to stand trial for first-degree murder and four other charges.

Carter says Magnotta’s preliminary hearing happened relatively quickly. “In terms of judicial resources, there’s a longer period of delay from the initial charge to the preliminary inquiry than there is between the preliminary and the superior court trial.”

“Technically, the preliminary is there to serve as a screening mechanism to see if there is some evidence of the offence you’ve been charged with, [but] in the vast majority of cases there’s no argument about committal to stand trial,” Carter said.

Where that does happen, sometimes, is in murder cases, with an argument over whether the charge should be first- or second-degree murder or manslaughter. Leclair argued unsuccessfully that Magnotta should be tried for second-degree.

However, Carter explained that the reality with preliminary inquiries is that, “In the vast majority of cases it’s used by the defence as discovery-type process, to get information about certain parts of the crown’s case,” and to get an idea of how witnesses will perform in the courtroom.

The Crown can avoid a preliminary inquiry by getting the attorney general to approve a direct indictment.

The decision to do so is made unilaterally by the prosecutors and the defence has no ability to argue against it. Last year, the Crown got a direct indictment in a terrorism case in which Carter is representing one of the accused, Misbahuddin Ahmed, who was arrested in 2010. In that case, the jury trial won’t begin until April 2014.

The availability of the lawyers for both sides, and the witnesses, is also taken into account when setting a trial date. Once the available date for a judge and courtroom are known, the two sides usually work out which option to choose.

After a trial date is set

Once the trial date is set, both sides have more work to do. Although most of the investigative materials should have been handed over to the defence ahead of the preliminary hearing, both sides will study the transcripts from the hearing.

The prosecution probably won’t put forward its full case at the inquiry, and “it’s a much bigger task doing it in front of a jury,” Carter explains.

The defence has to work out their strategy, line-up expert opinion, get extra evidence, and prepare to cross-examine witnesses, which Carter says will be different in front of a jury compared to the preliminary. And it’s likely there will be additional witnesses called.

“In a jury trial, there is always more work to be done,” he said. “As defence counsel you don’t necessarily want to show your entire hand at the preliminary.”

Pickton, Shafia, Bernardo murder trials

Compared to some other high profile murder trials in Canada, the expected timeline for the Magnotta trial appears to be about average. As a comparison:

  • For Robert Pickton, who was charged in 2002 in connection with the disappearance of dozens of women in Vancouver, it was four years, 11 months before his murder trial began.
  • For the three accused in the 2009 Shafia family murder case, two years and three months would elapse between the arrests and the start of the trial.
  • Paul Bernardo was arrested in 1993 for the murders of school girls Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. His trial began two years, three months later.

Magnotta’s trial is set to begin two years, three months after his arrest.

Luka Magnotta & his troubled history


November 2012

Most of the world first learned of Luka Magnotta on May 30, 2012, when he was named as a suspect in a grisly Montreal killing involving the shipping of body parts to the headquarters of two political party.

But some online communities had taken notice of the man long before that. Over the years, Magnotta had littered the internet with information about himself – both untrue and true – using dozens of pseudonyms, all in an effort to attract the worldwide fame he craved.

Over time, friends, acquaintances and family members became concerned that something was amiss with the Scarborough, Ont.- born man.

Troubling signs

The following is a timeline of Magnotta’s life, the troubling signs that emerged and how an online community tracked him down, based on exclusive interviews and information obtained by CBC’s the fifth estate.

July 24, 1982

Born in Scarborough, Ont.

Magnotta is born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman in Scarborough, a suburban community on the eastern outskirts of Toronto, to mother Anna Yourkin and father Donald Newman. He is the eldest of three kids. His parents split while Eric is still young. Newman later goes to live with his grandmother, Phyllis.


Attends high school

1998-2000: At some point, Newman’s grandmother and grandfather also divorce. Newman is home schooled for a period of time; in one blog post, he later writes that it was because he was told the world is a dirty and dangerous place. However, for at least two years, from 1998 to 2000, he does attend I.E. Weldon Secondary School in Lindsay, a rural community in the Kawartha Lakes region of southeastern Ontario. Former teachers and classmates remember him for his vanity and preoccupation with looks. He changes his hair colour often.


Starts stripping

Around 2002 or 2003, Newman begins stripping at Remingtons, a nightclub in Toronto. By 2003, he has appeared in his first two pornography films, both as a straight man turned gay. The following year, he appears in at least two other pornographic films, including one where he appears as Jimmy – a name he would also adopt while working as a male escort.


Allegations of sexual assault

Newman catches the attention of the Toronto Police after he befriends a 21-year-old woman with the mental capacity of a child eight to 12 years of age, convinces her to apply for credit cards and then racks up $10,000 in unpaid bills. He is charged with fraud. Initially, police allege he sexually assaulted the woman and videotaped it, but the Crown drops the charge before the case goes to trial. Newman’s lawyer at the time, Peter Scully, now says that the decision changed the course of Newman’s life “immeasurably, with huge ramifications to our society eventually.”


Convicted of fraud

June 2005: Newman pleads guilty and is convicted of four fraud charges. Before sentencing, Newman’s lawyer shows the court a medical report revealing his client has “significant psychiatric issues.” In handing down the sentence, Madam Justice Lauren Marshall issues a stern warning: “You have a medical problem and you need to always take medication. If you do not, your life is going to get messed up.” Newman is given a nine-month community-service sentence and 12 months of probation.


Dreams of policing

Newman continues to appear in low-level porn films. He also appears in Fab Magazine, a gay bi-weekly in Toronto, on the “Fab Boy” page as “Jimmy.” There, he describes himself as a “22-year-old soccer fan” born in Russia and living in Toronto who hopes to become a vice or homicide police officer.


Changes name

Early in 2006, Newman meets Barbie, a transgendered woman, and they begin dating. “He said he wanted to be famous one day,” Barbie told the fifth estate in a recent interview. She recalls his apartment looking like a shrine dedicated to himself. “He would always beg me to take pictures of him,” she says. In April, several months after meeting Newman, Barbie breaks up with him. That summer, Newman legally changes his name to Luka Rocco Magnotta.



March 2007: Magnotta files for bankruptcy, listing the cause as “illness, lack of employment and insufficient income to pay off debts.” He claims that he had to pay $200 each month in expenses relating to an unspecified medical condition.


Reality show auditions

2007-2008: Throughout 2007, Magnotta continues his attempts to make a name for himself. In the summer, he auditions for the reality show Cover Guy, telling the judges, “Some people say I am devastatingly good-looking.” The judges reject him. In February of 2008, he also tries out for the reality show Plastic Makes Perfect. “I’ve had my nose done. I’ve had two hair transplants,” he tells them. “And I’m planning on having muscle implants in my pecs and my arms.”

September 14, 2007

Denies Homolka rumours

The Toronto Sun publishes a story by reporter Joe Warmington about how Magnotta had dropped by the newspaper’s headquarters to deny online rumours he was dating notorious schoolgirl killer Karla Homolka. The rumours were likely started by Magnotta himself. In later years, a tribute video to Homolka was created by a Luka Magnotta alias account on YouTube; all the videos uploaded/favourited are Magnotta- or Homolka-related.


Online personas

Magnotta continues to try to garner attention online, posting comments about himself to create rumours and then using other profiles to deny them. Twice this year, he loses battles with Wikipedia to keep a page up about himself. He also posts an online escort ad under the alias Jimmy. One client posts an unflattering review describing him as cold and remote.

October 2009

A travel companion

Magnotta meets a 70-year-old man in Toronto who ends up becoming his travel companion. Together, they visit Russia, Italy and France. Henry, a fake name used to protect his identity, told the fifth estate they met at the Pickle Barrel restaurant located near Toronto’s Yonge and Eglinton intersection. “He walked as if he was on a stage or as if he was on a ramp for modeling clothes,” said Henry.


Darker postings

Fall of 2010: In 2010, Magnotta’s online postings get progressively darker. On his Facebook page, he posts a link to a video called, 3 guys 1 hammer that shows a man being viciously beaten to death. The video was not by Magnotta. The myth about Magnotta’s relationship with killer Homolka grows. In one posting about Magnotta and Homolka, the user — likely Magnotta — writes, “Luka is unable to live unless there is chaos in his life, it makes him feel as though he matters.”


Kitten-killing video

Dec. 21, 2010: Shortly before Christmas, a video called 1 guy – 2 kittens started circulating on discussion boards. Posted on Dec. 21, the video depicts an unidentified man, whose face is concealed, placing two kittens in a sealed bag and then sucking out the air with a vacuum to suffocate them. Though the video is quickly removed from YouTube, animal activists learn of it.

December 2010

Group seeks kitten killer

Soon after, Ryan Boyle, a former U.S. soldier who uses the online name Save Kitty, forms a Facebook group called “Find the Vacuum Kitten Killer for Great Justice.” About 4,000 people sign up. “These were not people who were doing it for money,” said Boyle, referring to the online activists. “They all had the same thing in mind: we want to catch this guy.” The group believes Magnotta joined the group under an alias, based on certain users’ online patterns of behaviour. When the group goes astray in its search for the kitten killer, they believe that Magnotta himself anonymously went on a message board frequented by the group and posted pictures from the video with the face no longer blurred.

December 28, 2010

$5,000 award posted

Rescue Ink, an animal protection group, posts a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the Vacuum Kitten Killer (VKK). “It’s a gateway crime, animal abuse,” Joe Panz, a founding member of the group, told the fifth estate. “Once somebody starts to open that door, that’s when things start to get really dangerous.”


Contacts N.Y. lawyer

Jan. 4, 2011: Magnotta, now in New York, makes contact with lawyer Romeo Salta, expressing alarm about the firestorm over the kitten killer. “He was convinced the animal activists were closing in,” said Salta. Magnotta asks whether any arrest warrants are pending on him. There aren’t any.


New online hunt starts

Early 2011: A new 11-member online group, called the Animal Beta Project or the AB Project, emerges in early 2011 with the goal of stopping Magnotta before he kills again. “We felt he would continue, that he would harm other animals and eventually move onto something even more violent, like hurting a person,” said John Green, an online alias. He spoke to the fifth estate on the condition of anonymity. The amateur sleuths analyze the kitten-killing videos frame by frame. They claim that furnishings and the kitten killer’s clothing in the videos are the same as those in other images of Magnotta posted on the web.

February 2011

Police file opened

Though the secretive AB Project group discovers a wealth of information about Magnotta online, they struggle to track down his physical location. The AB Project had been using exif (exchangeable image file) data from pictures posted of Magnotta online that told them when and where photos were taken. One innocuous photo from October 2010 taken on a cellphone stamped with a GPS locator finally suggests to them that Magnotta was in Toronto. The group contacted the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with all their findings, who then reach out to the Toronto Police. The police open a file on Magnotta in February of 2011.

November 2011

New kitten videos

Late November and early December 2011: A year after the original kitten-killing videos appear online, more videos are posted. A man wearing a Santa hat is shown feeding a live kitten to a python. In another, a kitten is duct taped to a broom handle then drowned in a bathtub. “He was basically saying, ‘Look, I’ve done it again. You’re not going to catch me,'” said AB Project member John Green.

December 8, 2011

London encounter with reporter

After The Sun in London, U.K., publishes a story about the kitten killer, Magnotta turns up at their office to deny that he had killed a kitten. The paper has not asked about him and reporter Alex West describes the behaviour as “highly suspicious.” West wrote, “But behind the denials it seemed he was getting some sort of bizarre pleasure out of the attention.” Two days later, threatening emails are sent to the Sun’s offices, believed to be from Magnotta. “Next time you hear from me it will be in a movie I am producing that will have some humans in it, not just pussies,” the email says. The London police are notified but say it was outside their jurisdiction. 


Ties to Montreal

Early 2012: Investigators with the AB Project receive a tip in early 2012 that Magnotta might have moved to Montreal. The project members then begin searching through their archive of Magnotta pictures looking for any that connects him to the city. One photo with unique streetlights catches their attention. The online sleuths begin systematically looking at Montreal intersections using Google’s Street View and track the one in the picture to a neighbourhood in Montreal. Around this time, Magnotta’s online activity begins to accelerate with blog postings about necrophilia and sedatives.

May 15, 2012

New video promoted

May 15-16, 2012: Over the course of two days, from May 15 to 16, repeated references are made online to a new video, 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick, that hasn’t even been posted. One reference depicts a person in a purple hoodie with a fist holding an ice pick. On one site, a user asks, “Where can I watch the 1 lunatic 1 ice pick video?” Ryan Boyle, a former soldier who started a Facebook group looking for the kitten killer, believes this is similar to earlier patterns where Magnotta would build buzz about a video via aliases before actually releasing the video.

May 24, 2012

Silence, then a disappearance

After a flurry of online postings, Magnotta’s online activity appears to go black for a few days. 

On May 24, Concordia University student Jun Lin fails to show up for his job.

May 25, 2012

Video posted

On May 25, a video titled, 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick, is posted on the web. It depicts a young male bound on a bed, initially alive and then lifeless. Then someone is seen repeatedly stabbing the corpse with an ice pick and dismembering the body with a knife. There are also acts of necrophilia and cannibalism.

May 29, 2012

1st body parts found

Staffers at Conservative Party HQ in Ottawa call police after receiving a package containing a foot. Ottawa police later say they found a second package containing a hand. Montreal police confirm they’re investigating a human torso found in a garbage pile in that city.

May 30, 2012

Suspect named

Montreal police say Luka Rocco Magnotta is wanted in the homicide investigation stemming from the body parts. He’s been on their radar since the day before, and can be seen on surveillance video of his apartment building and a Canada Post outlet.

May 30, 2012

Video analyzed

A video allegedly showing the murder and dismemberment of a man had appeared on a website days before. Mark Marek, the owner of the website, tells CBC News members of his site identified Magnotta. Police view the video for the first time this morning. 

June 2012

Victim identified

Authorities identify the victim of the gruesome killing and dismemberment as Jun Lin, a Chinese national who was studying at Concordia University in Montreal. Meanwhile, police announce that Magnotta left Canada for France on May 26.

June 3, 2012

Magnotta spotted in Paris

Now at the centre of a global manhunt, Magnotta, who has been dubbed the “Butcher of Montreal” by French media, may have been spotted in a Paris café, according to eyewitness accounts being investigated by local police.

June 4, 2012

Magnotta arrested

Luka Rocco Magnotta is arrested at an internet café in Berlin, where he was reportedly reading stories about himself.

June 5, 2012

Magnotta awaiting extradition

Suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta is held in a Berlin jail awaiting extradition to Canada on charges of first-degree murder and other offences, after a global dragnet tracked him down in the German capital.

June 5, 2012

Hand & foot sent to B.C.

Staff opening the mail at two Vancouver elementary schools discover a human hand and a foot, and it’s later determined they came from Montreal — prompting speculation about a Magnotta link. 

June 7, 2012

Link to L.A. homicide rejected

Law enforcement sources in California confirm there is no link between Magnotta and a case in which severed hands, feet and a head were found near the Hollywood sign, according to the L.A. Times. 

June 8, 2012

Jun Lin Award created

Concordia University announces the creation of an award commemorating the life of Jun Lin, the Chinese student who was killed in late May and dismembered. 

June 12, 2012

Jun Lin was family’s ‘pride and joy’

The family of Chinese student Jun Lin, who was brutally murdered and dismembered in Montreal last month, says his death was a “destructive blow” that left them physically and psychologically spent.

June 13, 2012

Vancouver body parts belong to Jun Lin

Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière says DNA test results confirm that body parts delivered to Vancouver schools last week belong to Jun Lin. 

June 18, 2012

Magnotta arrives home to face Canadian justice

Magnotta arrives at Quebec’s Mirabel airport by military plane in a highly controlled and secretive extradition operation orchestrated to minimize media attention on his return from Germany

June 19, 2012

Magnotta pleads not guilty

Appearing via teleconference at a Montreal courthouse, Magnotta pleads not guilty to a number of charges including first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a human body, posting obscene material, mailing obscene material and criminally harassing Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament.

June 21, 2012

Magnotta back in court for possible psychiatric evaluation

Luka Rocco Magnotta will appear in Montreal court via video-link today for a possible psychiatric evaluation request.

July 2, 2012

Investigators follow tip to remains in park

A tip led police to a Montreal park where remains were discovered near a small lake. Montreal police have not publicly linked the remains, which have yet to be confirmed as coming from a human, to the case.

July 4, 2012

Head found in Montreal park belongs to Jun Lin

Quebec authorities have confirmed that a severed human head found in Angrignon Park over the weekend belongs to Chinese student Jun Lin.

July 21, 2012

Jun Lin honoured at Montreal memorial

The parents of Jun Lin took part in an emotional and often tearful public memorial, as Montreal’s Chinese community gathered to remember the student two months after he was brutally killed.

Luke Magnotta

Luka Rocco Magnotta arrested in Germany

CBC News 

June 4, 2012

Luka Rocco Magnotta, suspected of killing a Chinese university student in Montreal and mailing the dismembered body parts to Canadian political parties, has been arrested at an internet café in Berlin where he was reportedly reading stories about himself.

Magnotta, 29, is wanted by Montreal authorities on first-degree murder and other charges, including threatening Canadian politicians, in a case that has drawn international attention and spawned one of the largest manhunts in Montreal police history.

Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière said Magnotta’s identity was confirmed through fingerprint evidence.

“The investigation is far from being over. We’ve got to bring the suspect down to Canada to face justice,” said Lafrenière, who added that some of the dead student’s body parts are still missing.

“There will be tons of questions to answer,” he said.

Magnotta was arrested in Berlin on an Interpol “red notice,” which under German law is considered a “provisional request from Canada for his extradition,” Julie Di Mambo, press secretary for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement.

Canada is now required to submit a formal request for Magnotta’s extradition, accompanied by “documentation outlining the evidence supporting the request,” the statement said.

It’s unclear, however, when Magnotta will actually set foot on Canadian soil.

“It could take a very long time,” said Rene Verret, a spokesman for Quebec’s bureau of prosecutions.

Verret said his office will send a request in the coming days to Nicholson for Magnotta’s extradition, asking that it be forwarded to German officials. However, the legal process could extend for months if the extradition is contested.

Investigators are scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday to provide more details on the case. It is their priority to return the accused killer to Canada.

Magnotta is suspected of killing Jun Lin — a 33-year-old Chinese university student with whom he had a relationship — recording video of the attack and mailing the victim’s dismembered body parts to federal political parties in Ottawa.

Berlin police spokesman Chief Supt. Stefan Redlich told CBC News that authorities arrested Magnotta at 2 p.m. Berlin time (8 a.m. ET) at the Helin Café on Karl Marx Street.

Seven officers were involved in the arrest, which was made after police were tipped off. 

“As far as I know he was arrested alone, and there was no struggle,” Redlich said.

There is no doubt about the suspect’s identity, and “he is the person Canada is looking for,” he added.

Magnotta ‘went quietly’

The café’s owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he witnessed the arrest.

“A colleague recognized him from his photo, because he’d just read the newspaper,” said the owner. “Nothing happened, it all went very quietly,” he said.

Kadir Anlayisli, the man who recognized the suspect and called police, works in the after-hours tobacco shop of the café. Berlin police confirmed that the arrest was mostly straightforward, but added that Magnotta initially denied his identity. Eventually he admitted, “OK, you got me.”

Magnotta is being held at the Berlin prison and is expected to be brought before a German judge on Tuesday.

But he likely won’t be questioned about the alleged crimes in Montreal, as “this is a Canadian case,” Redlich said.

Montreal police say they learned of Magnotta’s arrest at 12:40 p.m. ET, and the news came as a great relief for many investigators, said Lafrenière.

“We thank the media who broadcast his photo, and information on the web also had a part in coming to this result,” said Lafrenière.

Police will hold a full briefing on the case on Tuesday morning. Magnotta, dubbed the “Butcher of Montreal” by European media and “Canadian Psycho” at large, was spotted in Paris on the weekend, at a local café and in a hotel, after fleeing Montreal last week.

Magnotta had been reading stories about himself

Berlin-based freelance reporter Allan Hall said Anlayisli, who identified Magnotta, immediately recognized the man.

The café employee said Magnotta had been seated at computer number 25 reading stories about himself online. Anlayisli ran outside to flag down police.

“Anlayisli said the first police car stopped and the guy didn’t take him seriously,” Hall told CBC News in a telephone interview. “He had to stop another police car, then come into the internet café. The second police car called for backup.”

Hall added that Magnotta left his hotel in Paris on Friday and paid €100 to travel 14 hours from Paris to Berlin. Magnotta did not have to show a passport due to open border policies, he added. Police are working to reconstruct the timeline of Magnotta’s movements.

If investigators discover that Magnotta committed crimes while in Germany, the extradition process may become more complicated, reported Hall.

Harper congratulates police

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is in London for the Queen’s jubilee celebration, told reporters he is “pleased” Magnotta has been arrested.

“I just want to congratulate the police forces on their good work,” Harper said.

he prime minister is named, along with other Canadian politicians, in the police arrest warrant issued after Lin’s murder.

Magnotta is accused of criminally harassing Harper and other members of Parliament.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae asked Canadians to remember the victim.

“Let’s not forget that a young man was killed in the most terrible of circumstances. He came to Canada to improve himself, and to improve his life, and he is dead.

“His family in China is mourning, and his friends are in mourning, and all of Canada should be mourning for the person who died, rather than … celebrate the notoriety of Mr. Magnotta.” 

Magnotta also faces charges of first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a dead body, publishing an obscene thing, and mailing obscene matter.

Body parts suspect focus of global manhunt

Interpol joins search for Luka Rocco Magnotta after torso, foot, hand found

CBC News

May 31, 2012

Police say the intense media spotlight and international search for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the 29-year-old suspect in the grisly slaying and dismemberment of a victim whose body parts were sent in the mail, will make it difficult for him to remain on the lam.

Interpol posted a picture and information on Magnotta, a Montreal resident, on its website Thursday among a group of nine international suspects wanted for crimes including homicide, kidnapping and organized crime.

Interpol’s involvement came after Montreal police issued a worldwide warrant for first-degree murder.

Clues at the Montreal crime scene led police to expand their search abroad.

“We found some evidence,” said Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière. “We found, also, a letter that was posted on a website making us believe he might be gone out of the country.”

He said the suspect may have fled to a different continent — but he would not confirm a report that the possible destination was France.

“There is no country in the world that is not talking about him,” Lafrenière said. “There’s a lot of heat on him. There’s a lot of pressure on him, so we believe that it’s going to be hard for him.”

“If you look on different websites, you see the appearance of that person could change dramatically — from a male to a female, wearing and things like that — so that’s the reason we’ve put a lot of effort trying to locate this suspect,” Lafrenière said.

Magnotta has family in the Toronto area, so investigators are still working with domestic police agencies in case, he said.

Victim likely in a relationship with suspect

Magnotta is wanted in connection with the slaying of a man whose body parts were sent through the mail and found stuffed in a suitcase behind a low-rise apartment in west-end Montreal, near the Décarie Expressway.

Police believe Magnotta was in “a relationship” with the victim, said to be a man in his 30s. 

Investigators haven’t released the victim’s name and are awaiting autopsy results to confirm his identity.

However, Montreal police said they believe the victim was reported missing in Montreal several days earlier.

“There’s no family in Montreal, that’s why it’s going to be even more complicated,” Lafrenière said.

He said police believe the victim was killed last week. The property manager at the Montreal building where a torso was discovered stuffed in a suitcase in a trash pile said he first saw the luggage out on Friday.

Montreal police said they had received 15 solid tips about Magnotta’s whereabouts within two hours of releasing his photo Wednesday afternoon.

“We received many calls because a lot of people were shocked about this story,” Lafrenière said.

He said police are holding some information back to weed out false leads from the public.

Online investigation

Police said much of their investigation has been focused on the internet, because Magnotta did not have an extensive criminal record.

“There’s a heck of a history on the website now,” Lafrenière said. “We’re finding all kinds of images, all kinds of information.” Several websites show pictures of the suspect in modelling poses.

Sources have told CBC News that police believe they have evidence of the suspect videotaping the killing and dismembering the victim.

Police said they’re being careful in their release of images and video to help find the suspect, but cautioned this could be the kind of attention he is after.

“That type of suspect, I call him a suspect but a very deranged man, is looking for publicity,” Lafrenière said.

U.S. lawyer says he warned police about graphic video

A lawyer based in Montana told CBC News that he notified Toronto authorities over the weekend about a graphic online video that appears to depict the stabbing and dismemberment of a man.

Roger Renville, a civil litigation lawyer, said he came across the 10½-minute video Saturday morning on a website that showcases gory footage. Renville said he believes the video documents the killing and dismemberment of a man.

There isn’t any confirmation that the victim in the video is the same one that Magnotta is alleged to have killed.

But Renville said he is “extremely frustrated” at how Toronto police handled his weekend call.

“I kept insisting, and he told me that my story didn’t make sense,” he said in a Skype video interview Thursday. “Why would a killer film himself and then put it on the internet?”

Toronto police denied that they ignored Renville’s tip.

Remains still unaccounted for

The full scope of the crime came to light Tuesday when a torso was discovered in Montreal and the hand and foot surfaced in Ottawa.

The foot was sent to Conservative headquarters and a hand found at a Canada Post terminal that was addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada headquarters.

Montreal police said there are still remains that are unaccounted for, but they have no reason to believe they were also sent in the mail.

Magnotta, believed to be originally from Toronto, is also known as Eric Clinton Newman and as Vladimir Romanov. Montreal police give this description of Magnotta:

Five feet 10 inches tall.
135 pounds.
Black or dark brown hair.
Blue eyes.

Building manager Eric Schorer said Magnotta had lived there for four months but hadn’t been seen around in a while. He said there were never any complaints about noise in the unit, and that Magnotta passed a credit test to rent there.

Police in masks combed through the blood-soaked apartment Wednesday, having zeroed in on the source of a stench locals described as rotting meat, said a building resident.

A neighbour said police were showing neighbours pictures of two men — the suspected victim and the homicide suspect.

Montreal police said Magnotta was not known to them and had no criminal record. CBC News has learned, however, that he was convicted on four counts of fraud in Ontario in 2005. He served 16 days in pre-trial custody and was given a further nine-month conditional sentence and 12 months probation.

The suspect’s name has also come up in association with videos showing the killing of kittens. A CBC News source said police are also investigating a possible connection between the suspect and Karla Homolka.

Lafrenière said he would not substantiate internet rumours about the suspect.

Staff Sgt. Marc Habgood of the Peterborough Lakefield police service said they were contacted by Montreal investigators looking for Magnotta on Thursday.

“They advised us that they had a warrant for the arrest of a male party for [murder] and that he had family members in Peterborough, so he asked us to check a couple of residences,” he told CBC’s Peterborough affiliate, CHEX.

“We spoke to two family members and they hadn’t seen or heard of him in over a year… His family is here. They really stress that they’ve had nothing to do with him for over a year. They’re not anticipating hearing from him or seeing him.” 

‘Horrible’ crime scene

The hand and foot mailed to Ottawa were sent from a fake Montreal address, police said.

Lafrenière described the scene of the alleged crime as “horrible” but said investigators would be releasing few details for now.

“The most important thing for us is to nab the suspect, and to make sure we don’t jeopardize a future trial. I’d have a lot of trouble, as a father, to sleep if that happened.”

Police find 2nd body part after foot mailed to Tory HQ

Reports of severed hand found after human foot delivered to Conservative HQ

CBC News 

May 29, 2012

Ottawa police say they have found a second body part in a package as they investigate the delivery of a human foot to the Conservative Party of Canada’s headquarters in downtown Ottawa.

Police would not say what the body part was, nor where it was found, though they did say it was not found at the Conservative Party offices on 130 Albert St. where the foot was sent.

Media reports said the second package, containing a human hand, was not addressed to the Tory headquarters. Police said the major crime unit continues to investigate.

Police were called to the building at 11:20 a.m. ET after a suspicious package was delivered there. Police called for the hazardous materials unit after they noticed what appeared to be blood on the package.

The Hazmat Unit and Emergency Operations Section inspected the package and determined that there was possibly a human foot in the box. A coroner later confirmed it was a human foot.

Package delivered through Canada Post

Major Crimes Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt said the suspicious package was delivered through Canada Post and conceded it’s possible it was sent as a “gruesome message.”

The foot was decomposing and there was a stench when a CPC employee opened it, said Pirt. He would not say whether the foot belonged to a male or female.

Police found the second package in the course of the investigation, but would not reveal any more details.

Police are working with Canada Post to determine the origins of the packages and said they may also be in touch with morgues and funeral homes to see if they are missing any body parts.

Ottawa police are also checking to see if their case is connected with an RCMP investigation in Montreal after police there found a human torso in a pile of garbage in the Côte-des-Neiges borough.

News shocks MPs

Sgt. Steve Hodgson said Conservative Party staff members were shaken up by the incident.

Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said Ottawa police are investigating and all questions should be referred to them.

Several members of Parliament said they were caught off guard by the news.

“It’s shocking for somebody to do that,” said Labour Minister Lisa Raitt. “I’d hate to be the one opening that.”

Torso found in Montreal garbage pile

Suitcase stuffed with human remains 

CBC News 

May 29, 2012 

The major crimes unit of the Montreal police is investigating the discovery of a torso in a pile of garbage in the Côte-des-Neiges borough, west of Décarie Boulevard.

Police said a suitcase holding the human remains was found behind an apartment building at the corner of Place Lucy and the Décarie.

The building’s janitor made the grisly discovery Tuesday morning at about 10:15 a.m.

Mike Nadeau told CBC News he first noticed the suitcase in a large garbage pile last week, but only opened it Tuesday after people complained about a stench in the air.

He said there were maggots crawling all over the suitcase.

“As soon as we opened it, we just saw the body, with no head, and said, ‘We’re out of here, call the cops.'”

Police in Ottawa are working with Montreal police to see if a human foot dropped off at Conservative party headquarters Tuesday belongs to the same body.

Montreal authorities aren’t releasing any details about the age or gender of the body, but say it’s too soon to tell whether the torso belongs to a man or a woman.

They say more information will be available after an autopsy is performed.