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Magnotta aimed to shock: Ex-FBI profiler

By Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun

Luka Magnotta. (PHOTO TAKEN FROM HIS PERSONAL WEBSITE LUKA-MAGNOTTA.COM)

Luka Magnotta. (PHOTO TAKEN FROM HIS PERSONAL WEBSITE LUKA-MAGNOTTA.COM)

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Some people have fame thrust upon them. Others actively seek it out.

Put Luka Rocco Magnotta firmly in the second category.

He regularly documents himself through pouty glamour shots posted on Facebook and voluntarily puts himself centre stage on reality TV show auditions.

Well, he used to. Now that thirst for fame has turned to grubby infamy. The whole world is watching as the 29-year-old blond-haired model sits in a distinctly unglamorous German jail, waiting extradition home to Canada to face a string of serious charges.

Magnotta's Internet obsession made it fitting for him to get caught earlier this week at an Internet cafe in Berlin, after nine days on the run.

He was found Googling news stories about himself and looking at porn videos he starred in.

When confronted by police, he had his sunglasses off and simply said: "You got me."

"It's almost a game, it seems," said Oren Amitay, a Toronto psychologist and lecturer at Ryerson University, who has not previously diagnosed Magnotta.

"It's possible he was thinking about the image if he tried to run, it might take away from this persona he's trying to portray - this cool guy. He's like a cliche movie character."

Magnotta is accused of videotaping the killing and dismemberment of a Chinese national student and mailing his body parts to the offices of Canadian political parties in Ottawa and public schools in B.C.

Magnotta has been linked to several online videos of kittens being fed to pythons and suffocated in plastic bags.

Now, police are investigating a possible connection between Magnotta and a Miami, Fla., slaying where a Guatemalan national was dismembered three years ago. A connection with a similar killing in Los Angeles, near the Hollywood sign, was ruled out last week.

"Some people are just born evil," Amitay said. "There are some people that are born evil and you can just see it from a very young age."

Magnotta's family thought he was crazy, too.

Eric Clinton Newman was born July 24, 1982, to high school sweethearts Anna Yourkin and Donald Newman. He grew up in east Toronto and was later relocated to Lindsay, Ont., to live with his grandmother.

One relative expressed Magnotta's disconnect with the family - before he legally changed his named to Luka Rocco Magnotta in 2006.

She called him "a ticking time bomb."

"He's a nut job. I did not trust him," she told QMI Agency. "Eric is the type of individual, I think he's mentally ill. He has delusions of grandeur. He concocts stories that he tends to believe and they in turn become fact in his mind."

Amitay uses one word to sum up Magnotta: "Psychopath."

"We've heard the allegation he tortured animals or murdered them, which is a sign of being a psychopath," Amitay said.

"He has absolutely no regard for others. And on top of that, he's a narcissistic or histrionic psychopath - in that he wants everyone to know who he is."

And the alleged killer is getting what he wants.

Magnotta's name was splashed across front pages of newspapers across the world after he fled to Paris. Interpol issued a "red notice," turning a Canada-wide manhunt into an international one.

He was dubbed, "Canadian Psycho," for allegedly killing Jun Lin, 33, videotaping his death and posting it online. In the snuff film, which has yet to be authenticated by police, the hooded killer is seen stabbing a man several times with an ice pick, before dismembering him.

He then uses one of the limbs to masturbate himself with and performs a sex act on the corpse.

"A lot of times, there's a ritual involved with psychopaths and serial killers. For him, it was taking pictures," Amitay said.

"Most serial killers get the joy of outsmarting someone and how brilliant they are, but they don't reveal themselves because that's how they increase their chances of getting caught, but a lot do slip up."

The graphic video garnered 300,000 views in a four-hour stint on a single day - a copious amount of attention which would fuel Magnotta's ego, Amitay said.

The dismemberment of Lin in itself was an act of rage.

"He was spurned. This was a narcissistic insult," he said.

"What greater insult than to be dumped? The whole other part about indecency to his body afterwards - that was power because he had him tied up, doing these crazy things."

It's all about fame and attention, and sending the grisly packages to places - political parties, stuffing the torso in a suitcase and potentially public schools - that would get the biggest reaction was telling of Magnotta's need to be recognized.

"It's very shocking to the people who come upon the remains in the mail," said Mary Ellen O'Toole, a retired senior criminal profiler for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the U.S. who has been following the case in the news.

"It accomplishes a few things - to degrade the victim and to shock people."

O'Toole said she has seen many cases during her 28 years as an FBI agent - including the Zodiac Killer, the Unabomber and the Green River Killer - but, Magnotta's case stands out because so much evidence is documented online.

"With that particular (alleged) offender, what they're known for is recording their own activities," she said.

"It could be part of sexual sadism. Individuals who have that parasitic behaviour are sexually aroused by the victim's response to the affliction."

It's been reported Magnotta began online rumours of himself dating notorious killer Karla Homolka. He showed up at Toronto Sun and vehemently dismissed the claims as lies.

"I'm about to have a nervous breakdown and my reputation is completely ruined," Magnotta said in the 2007 interview.

"I want to set the record straight that me and her have no connection. Whoever who's doing this, please stop. You're doing a lot of harm."

Even if he had a rough childhood, that doesn't necessarily mean he would turn into a murderer, Amitay said.

However, if someone kills vulnerable animals such as kittens, it's definitely a red flag.

"If you can do such indignities to animals and humans, especially when they're alive, that you would hear their screams of pain or see their eyes to see what they're going through, someone without empathy can do that quite easily," he said.

"Most people who have anti-social personality, who also hurt animals as children, don't go onto killing people. I'm not sure what made him (allegedly) cross that line."

Amitay said Magnotta reminded him of Leonardo DiCaprio's character in the movie, "Catch Me If You Can," a fugitive on the run who thumbs his nose at the cops.

Magnotta went by many aliases, often to gain more exposure online, the psychologist said.

Besides Newman, he's also gone by Vladimir Romanov, Mattia Del Santo and Kirk Trammel - the same last name actor Sharon Stone's character who kills victims with an ice pick in the movie, Basic Instinct.

Police said Magnotta has assumed 70 different Facebook profiles.

It will be interesting to see, Amitay said, whether Magnotta will play the multiple personality disorder card in court.

"Psychotic means losing touch with reality. (Magnotta) knew exactly what he was doing," Amitay said.

"If he's smarter than anyone gives him credit for, he could've been planning this for years. And then say he has a history of all these different names and all these different personalities."

Magnotta will continue to be in the spotlight for some time as he awaits his likely lengthy trial. The "payoff" is still to come, Amitay suggested.

"This is the height of anticipation. If he were smart, he would realize what's happening to Bernardo. It's the worst punishment you could afflict on a narcissist - to not be seen in public," he said.

"It's all about the appearances. He thinks, 'I've left my mark. They'll always be talking about me.'"

jenny.yuen@sunmedia.ca

 

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