After fleeing for nine days from Montreal to Paris and then across Europe, dismemberment-murder suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta now sits in a Berlin jail cell awaiting a deportation hearing after a string of small errors and seemingly reckless miscalculations led him to be identified and arrested in a Berlin Internet café.
A week after body parts belonging to 33-year-old Concordia University student Lin Jun, a Chinese national, were found in packages mailed to the Ottawa offices of the Conservative and Liberal parties, Mr. Magnotta was caught spending hours looking at pornography and newspaper stories about his own alleged crimes. He was picked up by Berlin police with little resistance.
The man who once posted a blog entry entitled “How To Completely Disappear And Never Be Found” had apparently left breadcrumbs scattered across Paris, Berlin and the highways in between. His cellphone led him to be tracked by Interpol, but in the end it was not high-tech surveillance but simply sharp-eyed citizens who ended his flight – leading some to wonder whether he was hoping to be caught.
“He wasn’t trying to hide himself at all – in fact, he had pictures of himself on the screen in front of him, so I don’t know how he expected to get away from the law,” said Ulku Sungur, the owner of the Internet café where his freedom ended.
Canadian officials are planning to converge on Berlin to make the case for a quick extradition, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said.
“Obviously, if the extradition hearings are waived, that’s a much shorter period of time,” Mr. Toews told reporters Monday as he entered the House of Commons. “So we trust that all of the authorities are co-operating, working hard to make that happen. The requests will be made for the extradition.”
Mr. Magnotta did not appear to have companions or accomplices. His long week of flight was far from lonely, though: At every step, he was noticed, tracked or watched by someone.
Shortly before midnight on Saturday, May 26, two days after he had last shown up at work and shortly after Mr. Lin’s death, Mr. Magnotta appears to have boarded Air Transat flight 610 to Paris at Montreal’s Trudeau airport.
Another passenger, a 24-year-old Paris photographer named Étienne who requested that his surname be kept confidential, says he and his boyfriend Matthieu were seated in the same row as Mr. Magnotta.
“The last passenger gets on the plane, he’s wearing a Mickey Mouse T-Shirt, khaki pants,” Étienne recalled. “He’s tall, he looks like a teenager, an androgynous sort, hair long, clear eyes, I place him in the category of a gay alien.”
Although the suspect was seated in seat 33A, the window seat of their three-seat aisle, “he didn’t say much,” Étienne said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “He slid right past us getting into his seat. And he really did stink… he smelled like sweat.”
After sleeping fitfully in his seat, Mr. Magnotta disappeared to an unoccupied row in the back of the plane, where flight attendants told Étienne that they had found him weeping.
“When you find out what he’s done, when you know you were right next to him, it really gives you chills,” Étienne said.
The flight landed at Charles de Gaulle airport on Sunday, and for the next week Mr. Magnotta stayed in a number of locations around Paris. At first he stayed at a cheap hotel near Place de la Bastille, then with a friend in Clichy-la-Garenne.
By Tuesday, the body parts had arrived in Ottawa and shocked political staffers, and Montreal police had discovered a rotting corpse stuffed into a suitcase near Mr. Magnotta’s low-rent apartment. It took less than 24 hours to identify him.
At that point, Mr. Magnotta moved into l'hôtel du 28 on the rough-and-tumble Rue des Batignolles in northeast Paris, a few streets away from the Eurolines coach station, which offers long-distance buses to cities across Europe.