Canada police: Body parts victim a Chinese student

June 1, 2012 - 8:15 PM

Canada Severed Foot

This undated photo provided by City of Montreal Police Service media relations shows Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, who is wanted for homicide. Montreal police said on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, they have identified Magnotta as a suspect in the gruesome case of severed body parts discovered in packages mailed to Ottawa, Ontario, and in a garbage heap in Montreal. (AP Photo/City of Montreal Police Service)

MONTREAL (AP) — The man killed in a videotaped attack that was discovered after body parts were mailed to Canada's top political parties was a Chinese student, police said Friday, as authorities in France searched for the suspect, a Canadian porn actor.

Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere identified the victim as Jun Lin, 33. Police have said he dated Luka Rocco Magnotta, who is now on Interpol's equivalent of its most-wanted list.

A senior French police official said he is sure Magnotta is in France and that Magnotta has been there in the past. Another French police official said Magnotta apparently flew to Paris from Montreal last weekend, before the case emerged.

Lafreniere said Jun Lin doesn't have family in Montreal, but a family member reported him missing on Tuesday. He had last been seen May 24. Lafreniere said the murder occurred the night of May 24-25, and the suspect left for Europe on May 26.

According to a missing person's notice on the website of the Chinese consulate in Montreal, the victim was from the city of Wuhan and arrived in Montreal in July 2011.

"He is a Chinese citizen who studied at a university here in Montreal and was here for a certain time," Lafreniere said. "Thanks to the Chinese embassy, we have been able to reach the family with the sad news of what happened."

A spokesman for Concordia University said Lin was registered as an undergraduate in the department of engineering and computer science.

Concordia President Frederick Lowy expressed his condolences.

"We are saddened to learn of this loss of life and it has affected our community, especially those who knew him," he said in a statement. "In the face of such an unfortunate event, we are offering support to our staff, faculty and students in coping with this unexpected death."

Kankan Huang, the owner of a Montreal convenience store where Jun Li worked about 10 hours a week, said the victim was a responsible, polite cashier. He said he knew something was amiss when he didn't show up for work last week because Lin had never missed a shift since he was hired last August.

Huang said he was shocked when he read the news about his clerk's death.

Estrella Hedriana, the superintendent of the four-story apartment building where Lin lived in Montreal, said that one of Lin's friends came looking for him Sunday night, and that he asked to see the university student's apartment because Lin had been missing for three days. When the friend saw no sign of Lin in the apartment, he contacted the police, she said.

She said only met Lin a couple of times but said he seemed to have many Chinese friends in the neighborhood. She said she had never seen Magnotta, who lived roughly 2 miles (3 kilometers) west of her building.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Twitter that he spoke to China's ambassador to convey his "deep condolences on the senseless killing of Chinese student Jun Lin."

The Chinese Consulate in Montreal said in a statement on its website that the assassin had committed a "terrible and odious crime employing exceptionally cruel methods" and said it hoped the culprit would be promptly caught and tried.

It also called on local Chinese citizens to look out for their safety and called for police to protect them. "We call on local authorities to take effective measures to protect the security of local Chinese citizens."

The case began Tuesday, when a package containing a severed foot was opened at the ruling Conservative Party headquarters. A hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal party of Canada. A torso was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta's apartment building.

Montreal police have said they believe Magnotta, 29, fled for France based on evidence they found at his apartment and a blog he once wrote about how to disappear.

"What will hinder him the most is what he used to glorify himself, the web, with all the photos we have of him," Lafreniere said. But he warned that Magnotta is "someone who can disguise himself, he can change into a woman, wear a wig."

France's fugitive search unit has been ordered to hunt for Magnotta, the French officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about such searches publicly. They gave no details about his suspected whereabouts.

Lafreniere said Magnotta could be anywhere in Europe, and "there's even been talk he might have returned to Canada under another identity."

Police suspect Magnotta filmed the murder. The video, posted online, shows a man stabbing another man with an ice pick while the victim lies naked and tied up. The first man later reveals he has slashed the other man's throat. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it.

"We have quite convincing proof of the crime he committed," Lafreniere said Friday, referring to the video that police have been trying to get removed from the internet. He said veteran officers said it was most the horrific scene they had ever seen on video.

"It's not a movie, it's not something that was made up, it's a real human getting decapitated in front of the camera," he said.

Other body parts remain missing.

Police said Magnotta's birth name is Eric Clinton Newman and is also known by the name Vladimir Romanov, and they described him as white and 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.78 meters) with blue eyes and black hair. A police official said he was a porn actor.

The Interpol red notice states he was born in Scarborough, a district east of downtown Toronto.

Derek MacKinnon, a former resident of the building where Magnotta lived, said he was the only person Magnotta would speak to in the building. MacKinnon identified himself as an actor who played a serial killer in the 1980 horror film "Terror Train."

"I was a killer who killed 11 people in this film, so he was rather interested in my career versus his," MacKinnon said. "It was like a quick conversation, not like anything big. And knowing that we were both gay, I think that's probably where he had the connection with me because he was extremely cold, standoffish, wouldn't talk to anybody, but he would stop for a sec to say something to me, and I think that he felt there was a kindred spirit or something between the two of us."

He said Magnotta "was always well groomed" until the last time MacKinnon saw him, on May 25. He said Magnotta was having "a bad hair day."

"It was red, and he normally is dark," MacKinnon said. "It looked like a really bad wig."

Nina Arsenault, a Toronto transsexual who claimed she had a relationship with Magnotta over a decade ago, told journalists in Canada on Friday that the suspect was a drug user with a temper, who sometimes turned his anger on himself.

"He was hard-tempered, self-absorbed, manipulative, angry, aggressive," Arsenault told The Associated Press, of the man she met when he was around 18, and she 28.

She added that Magnotta would often hit himself in the head, and other parts of his body.

"That was very frequent, like some kind of compulsive behavior he couldn't stop," she said.

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Angela Charlton in Paris and Phil Couvrette in Ottawa, Ontario contributed to this report. Gillies and Charmaine Noronha reported from Toronto.