Monday, June 4, 2012

#LukaMagnotta: Arrested In Berlin Café.

Captain Guido Busch of the Berlin police confirmed Mr. Magnotta, 29, was arrested in the German capital on Monday afternoon.

“Police were called by a person from the Internet café. Colleagues went the café and arrested a person we are sure is Mr. Magnotta,” said Capt. Busch. “He is in jail, and will go to a judge tomorrow. Our goal is to bring him to Canada as quickly as possible.”

According to a CNN report, a worker at the Internet café said the owner noticed a man checking out a website about Mr. Magnotta. The customer looked like Mr. Magnotta and so the owner left the café to call police.

Montreal police have confirmed Mr. Magnotta’s arrest in Germany. They’re holding a media conference on Monday afternoon to discuss the high-profile case. Montreal police Commander Ian Lafrenière said investigators “are extremely relieved and happy” about Mr. Magnotta’s arrest.

The international search for Mr. Magnotta began last week after body parts of Lin Jun, a 33-year-old Chinese national who was studying at Concordia University, were found in Montreal and mailed to political parties in Ottawa.

Mr. Magnotta is facing five charges in Montreal, including first-degree murder, causing an indignity to a body, corrupting morals, using the mail system to deliver “obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous” material, and harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Harper commended police Monday for catching Mr. Magnotta.

“Well, I’m obviously pleased that the suspect has been arrested, and I just want to congratulate the police forces on their good work,” the Prime Minister said in London, where he is attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Mr. Lin, who was enrolled in computer science and worked part-time at a convenience store, had been in Canada for about a year. Police say his killing and dismemberment was filmed and posted on Internet gore sites. Web viewers mused for days about whether the film was real or not before Mr. Lin’s dismembered body was found and Montreal police began an investigation.

The scene of the crime, a second-floor studio apartment overlooking an expressway in Montreal, still contained the marks of violence days after the killing. A double mattress and a crumpled pink sheet were stained with dried blood. Splotches of blood also covered the floor of the fridge.

The rental apartment had been the home of Mr. Magnotta. He had moved in three to four months ago, the building’s superintendent said.

Mr. Magnotta and the victim knew each other, crossing paths at some point this spring. Acquaintances of Mr. Lin recalled he was looking for love. The last entry on his Facebook page was dated May 11. It included a photo of a park on which he wrote: "It's too, too, too, beautiful."

The murder of Mr. Lin has provoked widespread shock and anger in China, where many believe the crime was racially motivated. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa has warned citizens living or travelling in Canada to "strengthen their personal security" in the wake of the deadly attack.

Huang Kankan, Mr. Lin’s former boss at the convenience store in the working class Montreal neighbourhood of Verdun, said he looks forward to Mr. Magnotta’s trial, and the possibility justice will be served. Mr. Huang described Mr. Lin as a reliable worker who was usually in good humour.

“I feel much better now that a suspect is caught. People will feel much safer,” he said.  Mr. Huang said he had not heard from Mr. Lin’s parents, who are planning to head to Montreal to collect their son’s remains. But he says he expects to see them when they arrive.

“It’s kind of the Chinese way of doing things,” he said.

Mr. Lin’s death is the second killing of a Chinese student in Canada in just over a year, following last April's murder of York University student Liu Qian, part of which was watched on Skype by her boyfriend back in China.

Raised in the Toronto neighbourhood of Scarborough, Mr. Magnotta had a self-aggrandizing online persona -- and an extensive one.

He claimed to be a bisexual porn star, a famous model and a world traveller who drove expensive cars. He was rumoured to have dated Ontario schoolgirl-killer Karla Homolka and to have had plastic surgery to look like 1950s American film icon James Dean.

In reality, it appears Mr. Magnotta worked mostly as an escort. He also appears to have travelled extensively. Photographs posted on his website show him posing at landmarks in Moscow, Paris, New York and on a tropical beach.

Acquaintances of the Toronto native describe him as manipulative, needy and volatile. He was prone to outbursts of anger. One former lover recalled that he joked about killing people and animals. He apparently had a child, harboured a seething anger towards his parents and hinted at a traumatic childhood.

Mr. Magnotta went by several aliases, including Vladimir Romanov and Mattia Del Santo. He was born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman, but legally changed his name on Aug. 12, 2006.
A Facebook group started in December, 2010 had been tracking Mr. Magnotta after videos of kittens being killed was posted on YouTube. The group sent its evidence to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which began an investigation in February, 2011.

Ontario SPCA spokesman Brad Dewar wouldn’t reveal whether Mr. Magnotta is a suspect in the animal-cruelty case, but noted last week that the organization had reached out to law-enforcement agencies around the world for help, including municipal police services in Toronto and Montreal, the RCMP and FBI, and an animal-welfare organization in the United Kingdom.

“We spent 18 months warning the police … and what did they do?” Facebook group member Rob Lynn, who lives in England, wrote online hours after police revealed last Tuesday they were on the hunt for Mr. Magnotta in connection with the Montreal killing.

The search for him turned to France early on.

Police say Mr. Magnotta boarded a plane to France at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport on May 26, one day after the video of the slaying was posted online.

The man who once had a blog entry posted under his name entitled "How To Completely Disappear And Never Be Found" had apparently left breadcrumbs scattered across Paris. Police in France had been tracking him through cellphone signals, accounts from witnesses and video surveillance.

Mr. Magnotta’s family in the southern Ontario city of Peterborough declined to comment on his arrest Monday. They had told police they hadn’t seen him in about a year.

With reports from Ingrid Peritz, Adrian Morrow, Tu Thanh Ha and Canadian Press