Tracing Luka Magnotta’s footsteps: The night Jun Lin is last seen alive
Part 2: The homicide investigation begins →
Warning: This story contains graphic details some readers may find offensive.
Luka Magnotta, consumed with his appearance and reputation, had a lust for fame. Eventually, he gained notoriety in becoming the main suspect in Jun Lin’s horrid killing.
Twenty-seven months passed between the night in May 2012 when Lin was killed and Magnotta’s fate was laid in the hands of 14 jurors. During those months in between, Magnotta was known primarily as a man who killed senselessly, in cold blood, then fled Canada.
IN DEPTH: The Luka Magnotta file
Through 66 witnesses heard over 40 days, however, Magnotta has become known as more than that. Witness testimony has revealed him to be a troubled child and adolescent without friends; a man who provided escort services for money; a man who suffered the often punishing effects of severe mental illness both first and second hand, who sought help just days before slitting Lin’s throat.
On top of his personal history, the trial has also revealed a clearer picture of what Magnotta was doing and thinking when he brutally killed an innocent man (or, at least, what he says he was thinking).
Magnotta is charged with first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a human body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament and mailing obscene and indecent material.
Although he admitted to the “physical acts” behind the crimes, he maintains a plea of not guilty. His lawyer is arguing Magnotta is not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
10:20 p.m., May 24, 2012: Lin is last seen alive
Police investigators said they were never able to determine exactly how Lin and Magnotta met — there were no traceable phone calls between the two, no online chats and neither had photos of the other on their respective computers.
Magnotta told psychiatrists the two met for the first time at a metro station the night he killed Lin. The unsuspecting victim had responded the day before to a Craigslist ad for sex and bondage, Magnotta said.
WATCH: Magnotta and Lin arrive together at Magnotta’s apartment in Montreal shortly after 10 p.m. on May 24
The two returned to the low-rent building where Magnotta was living. At 10:20 p.m., surveillance footage from that building showed Magnotta holding the door open for Lin and entering behind his guest.
That tape would prove to hold the final images of Lin alive. The next time the 33-year-old university student appeared on video, Magnotta had already slit his throat.
The exact time of Lin’s death is not known. He sent his former boyfriend, who had just days earlier returned to China, a text message around midnight. The surveillance cameras captured Magnotta at 2:06 a.m. May 25, wearing a yellow t-shirt thought to be the one Lin wore hours earlier.
Over the course of that day and the next, cameras at the building, in post offices and at the Montreal airport, as well as a search through his online and phone activities, traced Magnotta’s post-killing steps.
He spent hours in the middle of the night hauling dozens of bags to the basement garbage room. He booked a round-trip plane ticket to Paris, scheduled to leave the following evening. He acquired the suitcase later used to store Lin’s torso. He made a number of calls to the 705 region of Ontario. He ordered pizza. He carried parcels to two post offices, where four of Lin’s body parts would remain more than 48 hours, awaiting Monday pickup. Finally, he arrived at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport where, wearing a wig, he passed through security and boarded an evening flight to Paris.
Through the defence team’s psychiatrists, Magnotta’s version of events was revealed during the 10-week trial.
Magnotta, now 32, gave two psychiatrists two slightly different explanations for his actions. He told one he killed Lin because the voices in his head convinced him Lin was a government agent sent to kill; he told the other it was a manipulative and abusive acquaintance who convinced Magnotta Lin was a government agent. He said he posted the video depicting his victim’s dismemberment in an effort to silence those voices invading his head. He said he mailed one foot and one hand to federal political parties because the voices were telling him “give it back,” and he thought that perhaps frightening the government would put an end to its involvement in his life.
Four days after Magnotta fled Canada, Montreal police named him the prime suspect in the homicide case and Interpol added him to its want list. By then, he was getting ready to take a bus to Berlin.
Part 2: The homicide investigation begins →
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