For years, occasional porn actor and escort Luka Rocco Magnotta mined the Internet in a bid for fame, or at least, infamy. But the respect, the attention he desired, never came.
That changed in late May when Magnotta was accused of one of the most disturbing crimes in recent memory, the dismemberment slaying of Concordia student Jun Lin. Magnotta’s face, stylized with makeup and Photoshop, was splashed on screens across the globe during an international manhunt. His name, which he so desperately attempted to link to Karla Homolka in web postings over the years, was finally being mentioned in the same sentences as Paul Bernardo and other famed sex killers.
And like many of those famed killers, Magnotta has garnered a collection of “fans.” Some of them say they love him, say he has been set up for a murder, that they want to have sex with him, maybe just get a tattoo of him. Others say he is mentally ill, needs help or they feel sympathetic to his desire to find fame. And some say it was Magnotta in that snuff film that purportedly shows the slaying of Lin, the sex acts performed to his corpse — yet they still find the alleged killer “inspirational.”
You hardly need to go into the deepest, darkest forums in the Internet’s bowels to find these people. They’re just the ones on Facebook.
Luka Rocco Magnotta worked hard to cultivate an online presence.
Luka Magnotta’s biggest fan page on Facebook has nearly 1,400 members. There appears to be dozens of other ones. There are groups such as Support Luka Magnotta, where members discuss if they can visit him in the Rivière-des-Prairies Detention Centre, and how they can send him a letter.
“I like Luka Magnotta because he is inspirational, nice, and very, very good looking,” the Support Luka Magnotta administrator, who says she is Destiney St. Denis, 21, of Saskatoon, said in an email. “I have seen the video over 20 times. I do think that was him, and I liked it. He is inspirational because he is not afraid to be himself.”
When asked about how the victim’s family would feel about her page, filled with unprintable comments, St. Denis is unapologetic.
“I couldn’t care less about that dude. I think that if anyone is a victim in this case, it is Luka … because of all the bullying he had to endure before the murder,” she said.
Others defend Magnotta. Say he could be mentally ill or maybe he was set up in his accused crimes.
“I truly think he may suffer from schizophrenia. That or he could have been paid to do it also,” Kerri-Lyn Duhaime, 30, a personal support worker in northern Ontario said.
She says she watched the “1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick” video — which police say is authentic — twice.
“Of course it bothered me but these days I’m so desensitized to violent acts [and] such with all the horror films and the news,” she added.
Another group, closed to the public with about 200 members, says it is “for people who are fastiated [sic], with luka, or anything that goes against society,and thier [sic] morals, or who would just want to have sex with him.”
Serial killer Ted Bundy also had his fans.
The fascination with those accused of notorious crimes is hardly just a product of the Internet age. Ted Bundy, the handsome law student who was one of the most prolific serial killers in history, received ample amounts of fan mail while awaiting his execution in prison. During the 1895 trial of serial killer William Henry Theodore Durrant, newspaper articles noted that the defendant received flowers from his many admirers.
Scott Bonn, a professor of sociology at Drew University in New Jersey, says the public’s desire to know “why” someone could commit the crimes that Magnotta is accused of is part of the fascination.
“Why could someone do such absolutely, horrific and unimaginable things? The public wants to know why,” he said in a telephone interview from Manhattan. He quotes a retired NYPD homicide detective telling him, “For the public, the why is the ‘Wow!’ factor.”
As for the hardcore “fans,” those who want to write to a killer, meet them, Bonn speculates there might not be much separating them from the super fans of other famous people such as athletes.
“Those individuals have a real burning desire to know the person behind the public image,” he said.
Bonn, who is working on a book called Monster dearest: Our fascination with serial killers and why we need them, says it appears that Magnotta has gotten exactly what he wants.
“I believe he is what we refer to as a ‘mission killer’ and his mission was his own public recognition,” Bonn said. “He’s a narcissist who absolutely craves public attention.”
Many of the Facebook users on Magnotta sites condemned his alleged actions, but said they couldn’t look away either.
“I sometimes look at it because I find this case really special. Luka has a very complicated personality even if I think I understood some parts of him,” Melanie Herz, 20, of Paris said in an email interview.
“I didn’t [like] his page. In a way, yes, it is what he wants, he needs to show he exists…. I think in a year people will forget his name.”
I like Luka Magnotta because he is inspirational, nice, and very, very good looking
Montreal police went to unusual lengths to keep Magnotta’s location quiet as he arrived in Canada, saying they didn’t want a circus to occur if the supporters or protesters they had seen on social networks showed up.
Bonn says that it appears that police are doing the responsible thing in the case.
“A lockdown of media exposure is the right thing to do,” he said. “The guy clearly loves it, you are denying him gratification.”
Yet, the head of the Quebec prison guard union accused the police of giving Magnotta’s special attention.
“It’s ridiculous the amount of money that was wasted to give the media a show,” Stephane Lemaire said, referring to Magnotta’s police escort upon returning to Montreal. “To see that much security, it feels like we’re dealing with Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.”
Some Facebook users have suggested that the company itself needs to do a better job of policing its users and have taken it upon themselves to patrol the Magnotta pages.
“I’ve reported several pages, users, and posts to Facebook and no actions have been taken as they still post vile and twisted things daily,” Celia Carver, 25, from Charlottetown, P.E.I., said in email interview. “I’ve heard nothing in response at all. In fact, I got a pop up after reporting numerous people within a short period of time that ‘Facebook takes complaints very seriously, are you sure you want to report this user?”
With files from Tristin Hopper, National Post