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In wake of Magnotta case, police forces dust off unsolved files

Warning: This story contains graphic details

Investigators from across Europe and North America are scouring unsolved murder cases looking for potential links to Luka Rocco Magnotta.

While stressing the checks are normal at this stage, Montreal police say Mr. Magnotta's frequent travels and the methodical killing of university student Lin Jun – he was bound, stabbed, dismembered, his corpse sexually defiled and partly eaten, much of it captured on video – have police in dozens of jurisdictions looking for patterns.

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Internet sleuths and some media have already started to draw similarities between local unsolved homicides and Mr. Lin's death, but Montreal investigators say no firm evidence has caused any case to stand out yet. Analysts are looking at assaults and sex crimes as well as murder, according to Montreal police Commander Denis Mainville.

"In Montreal alone, we have probably 100 files going back a number of years that we'll look at," said Cdr. Mainville, the head investigator of the Montreal police major crimes unit who was conducting rare interviews in the middle of the case.

He offered a lengthy briefing on the investigation, revealing a number of new details.

Montreal police have asked their Edmonton counterparts to look at the Alberta-based operator of a ghoulish website that streams video of the attack on Mr. Lin. Investigators in Montreal believe the site may be breaking obscenity laws.

"We've asked the operator repeatedly to take it down, and he's refused," said police Commander Ian Lafrenière.

Edmonton police have only launched an internal review of the video on the Best Gore website, said police spokeswoman Patrycia Thenu. She declined to explain the parameters of the internal review or whether it could lead to charges.

The site is owned by Edmonton-area photographer Mark Marek. In statements e-mailed to the media, Mr. Marek defended his website, saying he has a right to display "real life events," including the video that police say depicts Mr. Lin's killing.

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Montreal officers said Mr. Lin was reported missing last week by a "close friend," who then identified him by the grisly video during his own Internet search for clues.

"He had been looking for his friend for four days and in his search online came across this," police Cdr. Lafrenière said in an interview. "It's hard to imagine."

Mr. Lin's family in China is obtaining passports, visas and plane tickets to travel to Montreal, said Xu Zheng, consul at the city's Consulate General of China. The family, which includes Mr. Lin's parents, could arrive as early as this week. "The family wants to come as soon as possible," he said.

Cdr. Mainville disputed the popular theory that Mr. Magnotta was looking to get caught as he fled Montreal to Paris and then Berlin. He reportedly used his cellphone, visited Internet cafés and bars, checked in with old friends, and approached strangers to party while on the lam in France and Germany.

"On the contrary, he was fairly prudent, changing his appearance, wearing wigs, glasses, frequently changing clothes," Cdr. Mainville said. "Luckily, he also made mistakes."

Mr. Magnotta's online presence was key to his arrest. Hundreds of photos helped people spot him and Mr. Magnotta controlled 70 Facebook pages, investigators say. He was checking out websites about his flight when a worker at an Internet café in Berlin recognized him.

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"I have trouble following one Facebook page, he had 70," Cdr. Lafrenière said. "He was clearly out to glorify himself, and that certainly helped bring him down."

With reports from Renata D'Aliesio in Toronto and Ingrid Peritz in Montreal.

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