Luka Magnotta sparked an internet manhunt when he posted videos of him torturing cats online. With the murder of Jun Lin, this killer was always one step ahead - until a social media community began investigating.
The would-be serial killer Luka Magnotta was tracked down by a group of internet activists on Facebook, but for unexpected reasons.
Before he brutally live-streamed the murder of his lover, he made cat torture videos and posted them online. It wasn't long before he caught the attention of a bunch of self-described internet nerds, who made it their mission to track him down, no matter what the cost.
Who Is Luka Magnotta?
Luka Rocco Magnotta was born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman in July 1982. The son of Anna Yourkin and Donald Newman, Magnotta was the eldest of their three children. He grew up relatively inconspicuous, with classmates barely remembering who he was.
Before he created his online persona, Magnotta was arrested and charged with three counts of fraud and one count of impersonation. He had impersonated a woman in 2007 and spent over $17,000 in a Sears store. He served a conditional 12-month sentence, with 9 months probation. It was in 2010 that the first cat-killing video would surface. Well, after Magnotta had established his new online persona.
There is very little evidence to suggest that Luka Magnotta was a porn star at all. It was just another one of his ploys, along with a fake modeling career and his supposed relationship with Karla Homolka.
Shocking Videos Emerge
Meet Deanna Thompson, data analyst by day and Facebook hacktivist by night. This one-woman show is responsible for taking down one of the most prolific would-be serial killers of a generation. She's probably better known in the online community as Baudi Moovan, an alias she acquired for her online persona.
Thompson, along with her online buddy and animal activist John Green started a Facebook group called "Find the kitten vacuumer...For great justice" after a string of videos surfaced online.
The first video uploaded to the dark web in 2010 showed a hooded man in a small room with two kittens on a bed. The man proceeded to put the kittens in a plastic bag and vacuum sealed it until there was no air left. You can imagine the results, but things didn't stop there.
The second video portrays the same hooded man, barely visible on camera, drowning a cat in a bathtub that had been restrained with duct tape. The videos are a tough watch and heartbreaking for any animal lover to witness.
The group started to gain popularity on the internet as more and more people were shocked by the cat videos. Outraged by the videos, the Facebook group run by Deanne and John sprung into action. They had very little to go by, but they were determined to determine who was responsible for posting these videos.
Deanne, running the group, began focusing on the location, using anything she could physically see in the video to pinpoint the cat killer.
Along with John Green, the pair amassed several leads, successfully identifying the electrical sockets on the wall and finding the exact bed throw listed on Amazon, shown in the first video. It just so happened that one of these throws had ever been sold, and the buyer was located in North America.
The Facebook Investigation Heats Up
The Facebook group now had a location, and the most important part of the investigation was now underway because they finally had jurisdiction. Deanna and John swiftly contacted authorities in several US counties before the murder of Magnotta's only victim, Jun Lin. The thing about internet crime is that without a confirmed location, it's impossible to prosecute.
The team couldn't pinpoint Lin's exact location by this point, and the police weren't taking them seriously. Spurred on by their lack of support, Deanne and John went into overdrive. They received a tip from an anonymous group member that Luka Magnotta was the person in the cat torture videos. Nothing could prepare them for what they saw next.
It turned out that Luka Magnotta was an internet celebrity, with hundreds of fan sites dedicated to him. It seemed like he was a wealthy playboy with a jet-set lifestyle that anyone would be envious of.
The internet is littered with pictures of Magnotta worldwide, London, Paris, Berlin, you name it. The big question on everyone's mind was, why would a person like this want to harm cats and post the videos online? Was this individual the sadist son of billionaire parents who had enough money and connections to protect him from the law?
Well, no, and far from it!
The Investigation Takes A Strange Turn
At this point, the Facebook group went into overdrive and figured out whoever had posted these pictures on the Luke Magnotta fan sites across the internet was a dab hand at photoshop.
Magnotta's head had been superimposed onto other people's bodies, total strangers, in fact. This proved that the cat killer wasn't a playboy at all. He was a much more sinister individual who had more to hide. Both Deanna and John were astonished by this point in the investigation. Yet, nothing could prepare them for what happened next.
John Green received a message at 4 am. It was from a member of his Facebook group directing him to a video link. The cat-killing videos got more violent and graphic with each upload, so he was expecting the worst.
As John clicked on the link, he gulped, knowing full well that what he was about to watch wouldn't be pretty. What he saw next made him sick to his stomach.
The video detailed the brutal stabbing and murder of Jun Lin, a thirty-four-year-old university student from Montreal, Canada. Lin had arranged to meet up with Magnotta after connecting on the gay dating app Grindr for casual sex.
This time Magnotta had moved onto a human subject, all the while evading police capture, seemingly free from the burden of his crimes.
The Viral Murder
The video of Jun Lin's murder went viral and sent shock waves around the world. The search was on for Magnotta, but the police still didn't have a body. For all they knew, the murder could have been staged. This didn't stop the group from taking the next steps in their mission to find Magnotta.
John was now working full-time on the case and started looking through all of the photographs of Magnotta that the group amassed throughout their investigation. He struck it lucky and noticed that there was a Petro Canada gas station that he identified through tirelessly searching through Google Maps images in one of the undoctored photos.
The group had done it again; not only had they identified Magnotta's name before he murdered Jun Lin, but they also now had a location. The time stamp on the photograph placed Magnotta in Canada just a month earlier. The search was now on to find this wannabe criminal mastermind.
Magnotta was a bit of a loner and grew up watching movies. He often idolized stars such as James Dean and Sharon Stone, living vicariously through them.
He fancied himself as a celebrity and loved any attention he received from the outside world. This distorted view of the outside world made his own world seem very small. He'd often make up stories about his playboy lifestyle and how he was stalked by the notorious Canadian serial killer Paul Bernardo's wife, Karla Homolka, going as far as to call up radio stations to express his concern.
The Investigation Continues
After Jun Lin's body was found dismembered in a suitcase in a Montreal alleyway, the police were now full steam ahead and started a manhunt for Magnotta. Before the police could move on the investigation, Magnotta would make one more move to cement his status as a homicidal maniac.
He was captured on CCTV inside a post office, sending two packages containing dismembered body parts to each of the Canadian political parties, the liberals and the conservatives. It looked like Magnotta wanted to play games, and he seemed always to be one step ahead of the authorities.
Nobody knew Magnotta's whereabouts. It looked like he was enjoying a game of cat and mouse with the Canadian police.
It wasn't until John Green had noticed a song reference to the 90s classic movie Basic Instinct in the murder video that he was able to identify Magnotta's next move. The wannabe mastermind had left Canada by this point, with the police having no real leads as to his whereabouts.
John rewatched Basic Instinct and found out that Sharon Stone's character flees to Paris to start a new life after killing her husband. That's exactly what Magnotta did.
Authorities Close In Luka Magnotta
Magnotta wasn't easy to find either, the trail turned cold on multiple occasions. This didn't stop the French and German police from working together to get a hold of Magnotta's cell phone number. It was obtained from a potential victim who was wholly unaware of the situation he could have found himself in. German police eventually arrested Magnotta on an international murder charge.
It's a gold thing that police caught Magnotta when they did because evidence showed that he was on the prowl for his next victim.
At Magnotta's trial, he pleaded mental insanity and received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Magnotta maintains his defense that a man named 'Manny' is responsible for both the murder of Jun Lin and the horrendous cat videos.
Magnotta claims that 'Manny' physically and mentally "abused" him for years which drove him to commit murder. It's a farcical way to evade responsibility, just like he wanted to evade capture from the police. He fancied himself as a sort of Frank Abagnale character, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 blockbuster Catch me if you can.
We don't know for sure whether Magnotta is really mentally ill or if he's just a cold-hearted killer. But what we do know is that he did achieve his dream of being famous, but for all of the wrong reasons.