On December 23, 2014, Luka Magnotta, 29, was found guilty of five charges including first-degree murder and “committing indignities to a body.”
He was a Canadian model, stripper, porn actor, and escort who yearned for fame. Luka Rocco Magnotta (given name, Eric Clinton Newman) posted various photos of himself all over the internet, often manipulating them digitally to make it appear that he was in an exotic locale or somehow living in luxury.
Magnotta created dozens of fan and tribute pages for himself, on sites such as YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and Flickr, as if they were done by other people. He left an extensive digital footprint behind, much of which is still viewable online.
Through it all, Luka Magnotta skillfully manipulated his reality to give the impression of popularity, fame, love, and wealth. Underneath it all, he was struggling, with mental illness and his inability to realize his dreams.
In 2007, Magnotta appeared on a show called Naked News discussing his career as a stripper and an escort. At the time, he was going by “Jimmy,” in tribute to his idol James Dean.
When modeling and porn weren’t getting him where he wanted to be, he auditioned for reality TV projects. He told the casting agents for Cover Guy that “a lot of people tell me I’m devastatingly good looking.”
In 2008, he tried to get cast on a show called Plastic Makes Perfect, hoping to score some free plastic surgery.
He also auditioned to be in a documentary about bisexuality in 2010.
After not getting any of those jobs, Magnotta’s desperation for fame boiled over in intensity. Later that year, he evidently decided that infamy was as good as fame, so he tried to get the world’s attention by uploading videos to the internet in which he killed kittens in different ways. Some he suffocated them in a vacuum bag, another he fed to a python. One of these videos was titled 1 boy, 2 kittens.
These clips did finally get Magnotta noticed. Various animal-rights groups targeted him, trying to find out his identity. Online sleuths worked to track him down, even turning his name into the authorities. Despite their efforts, the police never really took these complaints seriously, even after being warned that many serial murderers initially act out by torturing and killing animals.
Another scheme Magnotta devised to call attention to himself was to start rumors that he was dating infamous Canadian killer Karla Homolka. One example is a profile he made on the Russian equivalent of Facebook, on which can be seen flirty interactions with a profile called “Karla Magnotta.”
Chillingly, under Activities and Interests on that profile, Magnotta repeatedly wrote “серийный убийца,” Russian for “Serial Killer.”
At the same time that (correct) accusations cropped up online linking Magnotta to the animal murders, the (incorrect) rumors about Homolka — planted by Luka himself — also grabbed attention. Amidst the hubbub, Magnotta would seek out journalists and other media outlets to make a big deal about denying the accusations.
Around this same time, Magnotta penned a letter to another journalist, referring to the cat killings. Therein, he threatened that his next online video would involve “some humans.” He also wrote, “Once you kill and taste blood it’s impossible to stop.”
Magnotta’s strategy with the kitten-killing videos was to try to generate advance buzz, using dozens of fake online identities, making reference to the videos before they were actually available. On March 3, 2012, a post referring to “necrophiliac serial killer Luka Magnotta” showed up on Blogspot.
Then, on April 22, 2012, a video titled “Cannibal Serial Killer – Luka Magnotta” appeared on YouTube, using New Order’s “True Faith” as its soundtrack.
Over the next couple of months, posts referring to Magnotta or the title of his new video, 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick, showed up in various online forums. But it wasn’t until May 25, 2012, that the approximately ten-minute-long video actually surfaced, on BestGore.com and other real gore websites.
In 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick, which Magnotta shot, edited, and, again, scored with “True Faith” by New Order, Magnotta is seen with a victim, a man named Lin Jun. While Jun is bound, it appears that he gets stabbed dozens of times with an icepick, after which he’s decapitated, dismembered, cannibalized, and even fed to a dog.
Viewers initally believed that Magnotta’s video involved a single victim. During legal proceedings the following year, however, experts retrieved three hours of unedited footage from the memory card of Magnotta’s digital camera. It turned out that the first live, sedated man who appears in 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick was not, in fact, Jun.
The individual who Magnotta threatens with an electric saw was actually a mysterious Colombian man that Luka had picked up for sex with several days prior. That person managed to escape with his life.
After the saw footage, the video cuts to the dead body of Jun. The corpse gets stabbed, sliced, and dismembered. Magnotta also uses a knife and fork to very awkwardly cut bite-size chunks of his victim’s buttocks, which he presumably ate.
In addition, Magnotta brings a little black-and-white dog into the frame and lets it chew on the flesh from where he’d cut his victim’s legs off. He then lies down on the bed next to the body and uses the corpse’s hand to masturbate. He films himself having sex with Jun’s dismembered body. While all of this transpires, “True Faith” plays in the background.
This video is real. It’s an authentic document of murder, cannibalism, and necrophilia, that was staged, shot, edited, and uploaded by the murderer himself. He then scored it to come off in the manner of an upbeat music video.
While 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick is difficult to find online now, for six days it circulated on the internet, hosted by several websites and no doubt downloaded and copied countless times. It also spawned a trend of ironic reaction videos, in which viewers were filmed while they viewed the spectacle and reacted to it.
Magnotta On Camera Again
Security footage from the Magnotta’s apartment building shows Luka and Lin Jun (the latter wearing a distinctive T-shirt and baseball cap), arriving together. The two men then head to Magnotta’s apartment.
Over the next 24 hours, Magnotta was filmed leaving alone, sometimes wearing Jun’s yellow tee and other times his cap. He disposes of garbage 16 times total, and, most chillingly, he returns at one point with a large, empty suitcase. Later, Magnotta makes a couple of trips out of the apartment carrying bulky bags.
Of course, we know now that parts of Jun’s body and a dead dog were left in the garbage in that suitcase. Magnotta also carried other parts out in packages that he mailed to an array of different governmental offices. Throughout his various trips in and out of the building, Luka often stops to check his hair in the lobby mirror.
CCTV cameras also captured Magnotta at a local postal outlet, from where he sent off Jun’s body parts. At some point during all of these efforts, he managed to both order a pizza and upload 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick to the web. Magnotta unleashed his atrocities on the Internet in his last, desperate gambit to be famous.
Over the next few days, online viewers debated whether the snuff film was real, or maybe just composed of convincing special effects. At least one attempt was made to report it to authorities, but the claim was dismissed.
On May 29, the aforementioned political offices received the packages of Jun’s body parts that Magnotta had mailed to them. Investigators discovered the suitcase containing other parts in the garbage outside of Magnotta’s apartment. They also turned up further evidence linking Magnotta to the murder.
By then, Magnotta had fled from his native Canada and Interpol enacted an international manhunt. Magnotta first stopped in Paris, traveling under the moniker “Kirk Trammel,” Trammel being the last name of Basic Instinct‘s ice-pick wielding killer. After a few days of partying in Paris, he took a bus to Berlin.
Fittingly, the attention-seeking Magnotta was finally captured on June 4, 2012, in Germany, in an internet café. He was there looking up nude photos of himself and articles about his own crime.
Magnotta’s Mental State
Dr. Joel Watts is a forensic psychiatrist who treated Magnotta and performed the suspect’s official psychiatric evaluation for his 12-week trial. Watts had to observe Magnotta’s symptoms and determine whether they were legitimate or if there was a chance he was faking them in order to be determined to be mentally ill. Somewhat amusingly, Watts writes:
“I was surprised by how dramatically unwell Magnotta appeared. I thought that perhaps he was skillfully putting on a show. Nagging at the back of my mind, however, was the fact that he would have had to be an exceedingly good actor to pull off such a convincing presentation of psychosis. In retrospect, judging by his lack of success in the acting profession to date, this is unlikely.”
He also points out that the killer had a long history of being treated for schizophrenia and he is of the opinion that during the time of the murder, Magnotta was “quite ill.” The doctor has further attested that Magnotta suffers from histrionic and borderline personality traits. Watts does, in fact, believe Magnotta was psychotic when he did the killing.
Despite such medical testimony, the court determined that Magnotta didn’t qualify as NCR (Not Criminally Responsible). He was found guilty of all charges.
At present, Luka Magnotta is serving a life sentence, with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Main photo: Luka Magnotta [Luka Magnotta’s Flickr account]