On Monday night, it was Luka Rocco Magnotta — dubbed “Canadian Psycho’’ — who was escorted back to this country, on a military transport flight and flanked by cops.
Three weeks ago, the alleged sex killer left Montreal with scant notice taken, boarding Air Transat flight 610, settling into Seat 33A. Last passenger on the plane, twitchy guy in a Mickey Mouse T-shirt, stinking from sweat, behaving oddly enough to arouse blogging commentary from another Paris-bound traveller sitting alongside. Nervous flier, it seemed, and spotted later crying in the back of the aircraft.
He returned to Montreal as the only suspect in the slaying and dismemberment of Concordia University student Jun Lin, captured in Berlin after a 10-day world-wide manhunt and finally showered with all the fame he’d so ardently coveted, moving from social media marginalia to mainstream headlines.
The plane touched down in Montreal shortly before 7 p.m. Magnotta disembarked far from the prying eyes of reporters and TV cameras, depriving him of a media audience home-coming.
“I have no obsession with the limelight.”
Magnotta, 29, had left behind an extensive digital footprint trail, popping up like Woody Allen’s Zelig character in video footage, niche porn websites, Internet toy-boy spreads (mostly shirtless) and reality show audition tapes. His self-generated bids for media coverage included at least twice approaching reporters, in Toronto and the United Kingdom, to deny any sex ties to notorious school-girl procurer Karla Homolka, a piggy-backing rumor that he’d apparently started.
For those who could stomach the contents, there was as well, most shockingly, the “1 lunatic 1 ice pick” videotape, posted online, depicting the stabbing, sexual defilement and dismemberment of 33-year-old Lin, its gruesome authenticity confirmed by police. The victim’s body parts were mailed to disparate addresses across Canada: a foot delivered to Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa, a hand intended for Liberal HQ intercepted at a postal warehouse in the capital, foot and hand to two Vancouver-area schools.
What else is out there, en route to a random mailbox?
“I live a convivial, sociable and vigorous life and for anyone to judge me by the virulent fiction they read online, would be naive, ignorant and incongruous.’’
Lin’s headless torso was found May 29 in a suitcase tossed on a garbage heap near Magnotta’s apartment building in Montreal. For reasons unclear, the luggage had been ignored when garbage collectors picked up the trash, the apartment’s manager making the gruesome discovery after residents had complained about an awful smell. Investigators said Lin — known as Justin, a gentle and amiable fellow who worked part-time as convenience store cashier — had been killed between May 24 and 25, the 11-minute video uploaded later that day. Magnotta was quickly identified as a suspect with an international arrest warrant issued May 31. Police found a blood-stained mattress and blood in the fridge at Magnotta’s rundown studio apartment.
Lin’s head is still missing.
Aspiring model, self-professed bisexual porn star, hustler, small-time felon, palpable narcissist, dissected in recent weeks by profilers-for-hire as classic psychopath, the Scarborough born Magnotta — born Eric Clinton Newman, formally changing his name in 2006 — was obsessed with cosmetic surgery to alter the features he didn’t like and, reportedly, to look more like James Dean . What remained throughout was the signature sensuous pout, the bedroom mouth of a man described by a former transgendered girlfriend as actually a dud in the sack, disinterested in sex and woefully unskilled as amorous partner. Magnotta also, she claimed, hit himself compulsively.
In videotaped interviews, he touches delicately at his face.
“A lot of people tell me I’m devastatingly good-looking.’’
All surface and artifice, his own invention, as admitted in the audition tape for a now-discontinued show called Plastic Makes Perfect, wherein Magnotta claimed to have undergone a hair transplant three times.
“If I don’t have my looks, then I don’t have any life. My looks and my body are my life.’’
Estranged from family, he’d already been accused by animal lover groups of torturing and killing kittens, suffocating them in plastic bags, feeding them to snakes, and posting the evidence online. This would be textbook emerging psychopathic behaviour, characteristics evident early to one relative who told the Peterborough Examiner: “He’s a nut job. I did not trust him. Eric is the type of individual . . . I think he’s mentally ill. He has delusions of grandeur. He concocts stories that he tends to believe and they in turn become fact in his mind.’’
“I am a survivor of mental illness and I’m not ashamed of it. I went through a very traumatic childhood and in my teen years experimented with drugs and alcohol. At first, I thought this was the problem . . . it wasn’t. I am manic depressive and bi-polar. One day I’m normal, the next I can’t get out of my bed and then next week I want to conquer the world. Very confusing to someone who doesn’t understand.’’
Compulsively exhibitionistic, in thrall to himself, but no more than a cipher for most of an utterly superficial life, as insubstantial as a hologram. His only known object of interest was Luka Magnotta — when not calling himself Vladimir Romanov or Angel or K. Trammel, perhaps inspired by the ice-pick murdering Catherine Trammel character from Basic Instinct.
So many identities, shedding bits of himself, forensically, in the short period that he remained a fugitive at large — he’d professed, online, to being expert in disappearing — tracked first to Paris, where he made others uncomfortable in a bistro. French police found porn magazines and air sickness bags from his flight in a room where Magnotta had stayed before lamming it when Interpol publicized his name.
“I do not necessarily feel the need to redeem my reputation since the people that know me best will be more than happy to vouch for my honesty in conduct and I can provide many satisfied and loyal references if necessary.”
Magnotta was arrested June 4 in a Berlin Internet café, where he’d been surfing the web, reading about himself.
“You got me.”
He did not fight extradition and faces five charges, including murder and indignity to a corpse. Magnotta was to appear before a judge Tuesday morning.
The media audience he courted so cravenly — in vain — will be there. For the vain and the craven.