The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed that a human hand and foot were mailed to two Vancouver schools on Tuesday. These could be linked to the Luka Rocco Magnotta dismemberment case, police say.
Vancouver and Montreal police are working to determine if the human remains are linked to the case, which began with the grisly discovery of a human foot and hand mailed to the Ottawa offices of the Conservative and Liberal parties last week.
Those body parts were identified as belonging to 33-year-old Lin Jun, a Chinese national who was studying at Concordia University.
Staff at False Creek Elementary discovered the hand at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, said Vancouver Deputy Police Chief Warren Lemcke.
Bruce Murton, principal at False Creek Elementary, said the white package arrived through the mail and was collected by the secretary.
"It smelled. It was a suspicious, smelly package," the principal said in an interview.
He could not recall if it had a return address or any strange markings.
"It was just a regular package that comes from the post office," he said.
When asked if school employees were shaken up by the incident, Mr. Murton said: "I think everyone is OK here."
About an hour later, staff at St. George's School discovered a package containing a human foot, Mr. Lemcke said.
"The Vancouver police and the B.C. Coroners Service have been called in to investigate," he said. "The remains will be examined by the coroner and there's no indication of an identity at this stage in the investigation."
Police said it is too early to determine whether the body parts belong to Mr. Lin, whose right foot, right hand and head are still missing.
Mr. Magnotta, the chief suspect in the gruesome murder-dismemberment case, was captured in Berlin on Monday after nine days on the lam.
Constable Anie Lemieux, a spokeswoman for the Montreal police, said the contents will have to be analyzed before establishing a connection.
"We may suspect that it's linked (to the Magnotta case) but we can't confirm it for sure," she said.
The schools remained cordoned off into Tuesday evening as forensic investigators continued to examine the scenes.
There was no indication that students or staff at either school were targeted, Mr. Lemcke said.
"This must have been a very, very traumatic incident for all involved at the schools that were involved in opening these packages," he said. "The Vancouver police department will assist in any way we can with our victims services section."
The investigation will centre on who the victim is and where the packages came from.
B.C. Justice Minister Shirley Bond said, Tuesday evening, that the development was "extremely troubling" and she was concerned for school staff caught up in the dramatic events.
"Obviously, an unbelievably horrific set of circumstances," Ms. Bond told reporters during a break at the Premiers's annual fundraising dinner. "We need to make sure the investigation takes its course"
Ms. Bond said she had been assured the Vancouver Police Department had all the resources they needed to deal with the investigation launched with the discovery of the body parts.
"I have every confidence that the Vancouver police department is dealing with it as expeditiously as possible."
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a news release he found the events to be "deeply disturbing and repugnant."
"The police investigation is still in its early stages, but it is my hope that justice for these acts will be delivered swiftly," he said.
In a statement issued to media, a spokesman for St. George's assured the public the school's students "are in no way affected by this matter."
"We are not aware of any connection of the package to the school, and at this point, the VPD are suggesting that the targeting of the school is random," said Gordon Allan.
The Vancouver School Board had little to say on the matter, citing the active police investigation.
"Our priority is always for our students, to provide a calm and safe environment for them," said spokesman Kurt Heinrich.
Canada Post did not immediately respond to a request for information on Tuesday, but regular parcel delivery takes 7 days from Montreal to Vancouver, according to the company's website.