MONTREAL >> Packages containing a human foot and hand were discovered at two schools in Vancouver on Tuesday, in what could be the latest gruesome twist in the case of a Canadian porn actor suspected of dismembering and eating his former lover.
Police said they could not immediately confirm if the body parts in question were the missing extremities of Chinese student Jun Lin, whose hand and foot were discovered last week when they were mailed to Canada’s top political parties.
The suspect, Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, was caught Monday at a cafe in Berlin, after evading police for days while he partied in Paris. He told German authorities he would not fight extradition to Canada.
Vancouver Deputy Police Chief Warren Lemcke said a package containing what appeared to be a human hand was opened by staff at False Creek Elementary School after 1 p.m. Tuesday. Another package containing what appeared to be a human foot was found by staff at St. George’s private school for boys later in the day.
The British Columbia Coroner’s Service and the Vancouver police’s major crime investigators have been called in.
“There is no indication any student or staff has been targeted at any school,” Lemcke said. “This must have been a very traumatic incident for all involved in the schools involved in opening the packages and the Vancouver Police Department will assist any way we can with our victims services section.”
Zheng Xu, a press spokesman at the Chinese consulate in Montreal, said four of Lin’s family members, including his parents, arrived in Montreal on Tuesday night. He said they will meet with Montreal police. He also said they will meet with the media at an opportune time.
Video footage of what authorities believe to be the killing seems to show the suspect eating the body, said police in Montreal, where the death occurred.
Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said that although police have not been able to conclusively confirm it, they suspect Magnotta ate parts of the victim’s body.
“As gross and as graphic as it could be, yes, it was seen on the video,” Lafreniere said.
Authorities allege Magnotta filmed the slaying in his Montreal studio apartment and posted it online.
A copy of what police believe is the video of the killing, viewed online by AP, shows a man with an ice pick stabbing another naked, bound male. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it.
It did not show anyone eating the body but did show a man using a fork and knife on it. Police suggested Tuesday that they have access to more extensive video of the killing, possibly an unedited version.
“We’re keeping some details for ourselves,” Lafreniere said.
Shortly after the killing, authorities say, Magnotta flew from Montreal to Paris.
Scores of French police hunting for him were inundated with hundreds of tips and alleged sightings of the suspect, whose photo was splashed in newspaper papers, TV screens and websites worldwide, thanks to an Interpol alert. The suspect monitored news reports about what police knew and took steps to evade authorities.
Witnesses contacted French police with claims of having seen Magnotta partying in the Bastille area of east Paris, said Christophe Crepin, a police union official who shared details about the manhunt in a phone interview with The Associated Press. One tipster said Magnotta drank a late-night Coca-Cola at a bar in the northwestern Batignolles quarter, which police collected for fingerprints. Pornography magazines and an air-sickness bag from the plane he had taken from Montreal to Paris were found in a dingy hotel room where he stayed in Bagnolet, northeast of Paris.
“He needed to be seen, and to party,” said Crepin, who relayed information he received from agents in the judicial police unit that tracks fugitives. “Naturally some of the people who saw him broke out into a cold sweat when they recognized him.”
Magnotta’s refusal to stay low eventually got him caught. He was arrested while reading about himself at an Internet cafe in Berlin after an employee recognized him from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car.
Magnotta appeared before a German judge in the afternoon and was ordered held pending extradition, police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said. He was then transferred to a Berlin prison from a police detention center.
He will have to go before a German court for an extradition hearing once Canada formally requests that he be returned for trial, Neuendorf said.
“I assume there will be no problems,” he said. “According to his statements to prosecutors he will not fight his extradition.”
That means Magnotta could be returned to Canada as early as this week, according to authorities. The Canadian Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on when Ottawa may file the official papers seeking extradition.
Cmdr. Denis Mainville, the head investigator of the Montreal police major crimes unit, said investigators will review hundreds of homicide cases over the last 30 years in Montreal and throughout Quebec for any possible links to Magnotta. Mainville said such a review is routine in such cases.
Magnotta arrived in Berlin on Saturday on a bus from Paris, said Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors.
Crepin said Magnotta had contacts in Paris from a previous visit in 2010.
“He didn’t come to Paris by chance. He knew he could get along in Paris, he knew people,” he said. Police, for example, trailed a large-framed man who had been in contact with Magnotta, he said. Police questioned another man with whom Magnotta spent two nights. The man didn’t immediately realize who his companion was, Crepin said.
At times, French investigators grew frustrated with leaks in the media — notably a French TV report indicating police had used technology to track Magnotta’s mobile phone. As a result, Magnotta turned it off, Crepin said.
“He had closely monitored what we police were doing to concoct his strategy,” he said.
Crepin said surveillance camera footage showed Magnotta boarding a bus to Berlin on Friday evening. He said German officials were alerted that Magnotta might be in Berlin at some point before the arrest, but he did not specify when.
The case’s full horror emerged on May 29 when a package containing the severed foot was opened at Canada’s ruling Conservative Party headquarters and a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. A torso, meanwhile, was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta’s apartment building.
As they unraveled his background, police discovered that Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Newman in 2006 and that he was born in Scarborough, Ontario. He is also known as Vladimir Romanov. Police said he has 70 Facebook accounts under different names.
Montreal police on Tuesday said DNA tests have confirmed that the body parts mailed to the political parties were Lin’s remains, and that they have footage of Magnotta mailing the two parcels that were sent to Ottawa.
In addition to the victim’s torso, Mainville said investigators found more human body parts, including a left arm without a hand and a left leg missing its foot, in garbage bags left in the dump behind Magnotta’s apartment building during the 18-hour processing of the crime scene that began after the suitcase was found on May 29.
“The head is still missing,” Lafreniere said, hours before the parcels were discovered in Vancouver. “And one hand and one foot is still missing.”
In Vancouver, Kurt Heinrich of the city’s school board said no students saw the package at False Creek Elementary.
Larissa Warrington, the chair of the False Creek elementary parent advisory council, said students were in school at the time and police vans were present when she picked up her three kids.
“I came to pick up my children as I usually do and was told there was a suspicious package at the school,” an emotional Warrington said.
“It is disturbing. It’s awful. Why would anybody do that? It’s very unsettling, as you can imagine, having children at this school.”
At St. George’s, Grade 7 student Devon Mussio said his mother told him the news.
“I thought she was lying and I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s disturbing,”’ said Mussio, who was standing outside the school with his mother, Penny. “This guy’s, like, a creep.”