Warning: Due to the nature of the trial, this article contains graphic content.
MONTREAL - Luka Rocco Magnotta sent bizarre and threatening notes across the country with body parts of his victim, but he also took elaborate steps to clean up evidence of the killing that occurred in his Montreal apartment, a court heard Tuesday.
In a case that is asking jurors to decide whether Magnotta was mentally sound when Chinese exchange student Jun Lin was killed in May 2012, the evidence presented Tuesday morning showed a mix of bizarre behaviour and efforts to clean up any trace of the murder and dismemberment.
Three witnesses — all crime scene investigators with the Montreal police force — presented photographs taken in the hours after police learned what had occurred and Lin’s body parts were found in the trash outside Magnotta’s Montreal apartment.
So close was that evidence to being carted away that police photographer Chantal Turmel was instructed to climb into a garbage truck and start sifting through the trash for evidence, particularly a wine bottle that was used to sodomize the victim, and a Casablanca movie poster that had been hanging in Magnotta’s studio apartment.
The two items were among those featured in a video of the killing posted to the Internet. They were found within an hour of Turmel’s search, she told the court, along with a yellow short-sleeved shirt and a red felt square and safety pin that were worn by many Quebec students in the spring of 2012 to protest tuition hikes. Turmel did not elaborate on the significance of the shirt and red felt square in her testimony.
Venturing inside Magnotta’s second-floor apartment, Turmel began photographing the crime scene. Initially, the apartment appeared to have been thoroughly cleaned and its contents removed. But a more thorough examination showed dozens of red stains that appeared to be blood, on the bathroom sink, bathtub, shower curtain, bathroom door, walls and on a dining room table. There were also flecks on a white heater next to the bed, as well as on the walls at the head and foot of the bed.
Inside the refrigerator, there was blood on a shelf and a larger pool of blood that had collected under the produce drawer that may have been overlooked when the apartment was initially cleaned.
The bed, the backdrop for the horrific murder video, was covered by a clean brown sheet, but underneath that, and a maroon plastic cover, were white stains where someone had attempted to bleach blood out of the mattress. It wasn’t successful, as there were still faint brownish-red marks beneath the bleach stains.
“When we removed the mattress, there was a smell that was a little bit rotten,” Turmel told Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier.
Such deliberation in cleaning up the site contrasted with the raving, handwritten notes on pink paper that were sent to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and two schools in Vancouver, in boxes that contained the hands and feet of Lin as well as black rectangular gift bags and crumpled pink tissue paper.
One, addressed to the federal Liberal party headquarters, with the sender’s name and address given as Bordelais of Montreal, includes a note handwritten in marker on a piece of pink paper apparently appealing to Laureen Teskey, the wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“You know who they are,” the note says. “They f----- me big time.”
Another box, sent to Vancouver’s False Creek Elementary School, was sent in the name of “L. Valentini” of St. Catharines, Ont.
Again on pink paper is the threatening poem: “Roses are red, violets are blue. The police will need dental records to identify you. Bitch.”
The final witness of Tuesday morning was another Montreal police crime scene investigator, Richard Dionne. On July 1, 2012, nearly a month after Magnotta had been captured in a Berlin Internet cafe, and while he was awaiting extradition, Dionne was called out in the evening to photograph a human skull in Montreal’s Angrignon Park, nearly 10 kilometres southwest of Magnotta’s apartment.
Found deep in vegetation between a gravel footpath and a lake was Lin’s badly decomposed skull.
The trial continues.