Police find grisly scene in apartment of dismemberment suspect

MONTREAL, OTTAWA AND OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Rocco Luka Magnotta is shown in a photo from his web site. Police have named Magnotta a suspect in the shocking case where dismembered body parts were mailed to Ottawa, including the headquarters of the governing Conservative party. (Copyright 2009)

Warning: This story contains graphic details

The scene inside Apartment 208 bears the marks of gruesome violence. A stain spreads across the double mattress and a crumpled pink sheet atop it is streaked in dried blood.

The studio apartment, located in a boxy, brick building overlooking an expressway in Montreal, became the focus of a police investigation into what has emerged as a sordid and bizarre crime that has ricocheted to federal political party offices in Ottawa.

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The second-floor apartment was the home of Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, the leading suspect in a murder and dismemberment case that began after a man’s torso was found stuffed in a locked suitcase in Montreal.

Police say Mr. Magnotta, a model and adult-film actor, is believed to be from Toronto and repeatedly used aliases and changed his name over the years. He was Eric Clinton Kirk Newman until he changed his name in 2006.

He is wanted in connection with the delivery of a human left foot to the Conservative Party of Canada headquarters.

A packaged hand, intercepted by Ottawa police, was also addressed to be delivered to Liberal Party offices, a source said.

Montreal police believe that the macabre murder and dismemberment was captured on video and posted on a website that specialized in gore, gaining widening circulation as the extent of the crime became public Wednesday.

“It is a video of the murder,” a Montreal police official confirmed to The Globe.

Police warn that not all of the murder victim, a male, has been recovered but refuse to say whether they believe more pieces of his body are still in Canada Post’s mail system.

“We are still missing a few parts of the puzzle in terms of body parts, so yes, this is a special crime scene,” Montreal police spokesman Commander Ian Lafrenière said.

The Montreal police confirmed that the torso found in Montreal is likely from the same body as the hand and the foot that were mailed to political parties in Ottawa, although an official DNA match is still in the works.

“We have all the reasons to believe that it is linked to our homicide,” Cdr. Lafrenière said.

The Conservative Party, meanwhile, offered more details on the grisly unpacking of a foot in their offices Tuesday, revealing that Stephen Harper’s campaign manager, Jenni Byrne, witnessed the opening of the bloody parcel.

The incident left Tory staffers traumatized.

“The package was brought to Ms. Byrne because it looked suspicious,” Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. “It was opened, Ms. Byrne examined it, saw the blood and smelled the odour and made the decision to call police.”

He added: “It was such a horrible odour I'm sure many of us will not forget it.”

Tory sources said that package, which bore the drawing of a red heart, was addressed to the Conservative Party rather than a particular person.

CTV News reported that a note was enclosed with the severed foot indicating a total of six body parts had been distributed, and that the sender planned to kill again.

Montreal police said the murder was not a random act, as the suspect and his victim knew one another. Cdr. Lafrenière did not want to go into details about allegations that Mr. Magnotta was captured killing kittens on a video that circulated on the Internet.

“We’ve heard about it, but we don’t have confirmation. Our main priority is to find our suspect,” Cdr. Lafrenière said.

Mr. Magnotta is also reported to have dated notorious sex killer Karla Homolka.

The video shows someone repeatedly stabbing a young man, then dismembering the corpse and committing cannibalistic acts on it.

And the Montreal police official said what the force found in Mr. Magnotta’s apartment was horrific.

“For most of the officers who have been there all night long, this is the type of crime scene that they have never seen in their lives, in their career.”

Police had spent Tuesday combing through the second-floor apartment in Montreal’s Snowdon district, and on Wednesday afternoon, black fingerprinting powder still covered the table and chairs. Orange police tape flew from the balcony railing over Montreal’s noisy Décarie expressway.

Whatever had happened inside in recent days had left behind a grisly trail. Building superintendent Eric Schorer came in to cart away the stained mattress; small puddles of blood lay on the box spring beneath it. More splotches of blood covered the floor of the fridge, leading to speculation that body parts may have been stored there.

A gut-turning stench filled the room.

“When I first opened the door, I almost heaved,” Mr. Schorer said. “It’s the smell of death.”

Mr. Magnotta moved in three to four months ago, Mr. Schorer said. He told the building’s management he had come from Toronto to take a job caring for seniors in Montreal’s Côte St. Luc district; he also said he had a child in Montreal. However, shortly after moving in, residents in the building Googled his name and thereafter nicknamed him “Porn Star.”

Mr. Magnotta paid his $490-a-month rent by cheque and rarely spoke to his neighbours, according to accounts from those living in the building.

On Wednesday, police began circulating a photo of a man linked to the crime whom they described as “missing.” He was an Asian man who appeared to be in his 30s, Mr. Schorer said.

The suitcase containing the victim’s remains was left at the end of a driveway behind the apartment building, along with the tenants’ regular garbage. Mike Nadeau, the building janitor, says he first noticed the suitcase last Friday, and thinks it had been there several days. One tenant said the suitcase looked brand new.

Normally, Montreal garbage crews would have taken the bag away during regular garbage collection on Fridays. However, perhaps because there was an unusual amount of old furniture and other detritus left out that day, the luggage was left behind.

Mr. Nadeau approached the locked suitcase, which smelled and was swarming with flies. When he broke it open, he found a torso and shoulders without a head. The body appeared to have been dismembered.

Mr. Schorer said police seized footage from security cameras around the building.

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