MONTREAL - An international manhunt has been launched for a porn actor wanted in a gruesome body-parts case as police announced Thursday that he is believed to have fled the country.
Montreal police have issued a countrywide arrest warrant for Luka Rocco Magnotta, who has also been added to Interpol's wanted person's list.
The case was making international news as foreign media spreading the story of the Canadian man suspected of stabbing and dismembering a victim, videotaping his act and mailing the body parts to the offices of political parties.
It was clues at the Montreal crime scene that led police to expand their search abroad.
"We found some evidence on the scene," said Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere. "We found, also, a letter that was posted on a website making us believe he might be gone out of the country."
He said the suspect may have fled to a different continent — but he would not confirm a report that the likely destination was France.
He did provide some small details on the victim. Police believe it is a man in his 30s reported missing several days ago, whose family lives overseas. Lafreniere said police were still working out the forensic details and were also having trouble contacting the victim's family.
There could be unique obstacles in tracking down the suspected killer.
Magnotta has used myriad aliases over the years and legally had his name changed from Eric Clinton Kirk Newman on Aug. 12, 2006, while he still lived in Ontario before moving to Quebec. His online posts also suggest he has a longtime fascination with identity change and escape.
He hasn't been seen at his apartment for a while.
One neighbour said he last saw Magnotta nearly a week ago — last Friday.
That neighbour in a second-floor apartment, near Magnotta's, said he saw the man carrying a box to the post office. The neighbour, Richard Payette, said the box looked like the type that would be used to package hockey skates.
He said he saw Magnotta carry it out of the building around 11 a.m. that day.
Much of the police investigation has focused on that apartment complex, in a working-class Montreal neighbourhood.
Authorities are investigating the possibility that Magnotta killed a man in that apartment, committed numerous acts on the corpse, dismembered the body and mailed the parts to the offices of political parties in Ottawa.
It was behind that apartment building that police found a torso stuffed in a suitcase in a heap of garbage on Tuesday, after it had been lying there for days.
Also Tuesday, a foot was found in a package mailed to the Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa, and a hand was later found in a package at a postal warehouse in the city. The package with the hand was addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada, and tests show the three body parts come from the same victim.
A police search is also on for other body parts. Montreal police are investigating the possibility that other parts might have been mailed out.
What police are also doing is downplaying reports of romantic ties between the suspect and Karla Homolka — the convicted sex-killer who has lived in the Montreal area. Media reports had earlier quoted police lending credence to those rumours.
The gossip about Homolka ties is rampant on the Internet, part of a huge online footprint that includes numerous websites produced by the suspected killer himself.
There are numerous websites describing a Magnotta who modelled; made bisexual porn movies; worked as a gay escort in Canada and abroad; and one who raised the wrath of animal lovers by torturing and killing cats.
In one of many online articles written by a Luka Magnotta, the author writes about his struggles with manic depression and experimentation with drugs.
A mainstream media report five years ago suggested Magnotta needed professional help and it cited friends suggesting a theory about how the Homolka rumours actually started: they hinted the attention-hungry young man had spread them himself, on the Internet.
Criminal-behaviour experts contacted by The Canadian Press said the behaviour exhibited by Magnotta clearly fit the profile of a man with a desperate need for attention.
There is a story on a gay-and-lesbian news site that reports an old girlfriend describing Magnotta the same way — as a narcissist desperate for attention. In that account on the Xtra! news site, she is also quoted saying he spoke constantly about serial killers and was obsessed with Homolka.
"He always wanted to be famous," the story reported the girlfriend, quoted under a pseudonym, as saying.
"I guess now he is."