MONTREAL - Half a world away in China, Feng Lin started fretting about his former lover in the spring of 2012.
From Montreal, Jun Lin had sent Feng Lin the last of what was up to 50 daily text messages at about midnight on May 24 that year.
“He was saying good morning to me because it was the time when I had just woken up,” Feng Lin testified in the first-degree murder trial of Luka Rocco Magnotta on Wednesday.
It was 11 days after the trim, well-dressed manager for a Chinese software company had returned to China for the summer to visit family. Before the trip, the two had ended their two-year relationship because, at 33 years old, Jun Lin was under pressure from his family back in China to meet a girl and get married. They did not know that he was gay, Feng Lin testified.
Feng Lin replied to Jun Lin's message, he told the court through an interpreter.
“I saw that he did open and read it, but he never returned the message.”
More messages in the coming days also went unanswered. Concern turned to worry, worry turned to panic.
Feng Lin sent messages to mutual friends back in Montreal. A notice went out about the missing exchange student at Concordia University on the website of the Chinese consulate stating some of the facts that Feng Lin knew intimately.
“How tall was he?” asked Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier.
“He measured 175 centimetres,” Feng Lin replied.
His weight? “65 kilos.”
“Was he fit?” Bouthillier asked.
“He always went to the fitness centre.”
He testified also that Jun Lin also had burn marks on his lower back and hand from an accident he suffered as a child. More intimate still was the barely perceptible line along the back of Jun Lin's head, the mark of a hair transplant procedure to deal with a receding hairline.
“Were you faithful to him?” Bouthillier asked.
“Was he faithful to you?”
“Yes, he was.”
What he didn't know at the time was that Jun Lin, shortly after sending that text message to his faraway former lover, fell into the clutches of Magnotta, who is accused of killing and dismembering his victim between the night of May 24 and the morning of May 25, 2012.
Feng Lin did become aware of the horrific news out of Montreal over the next few days about a headless torso that was discovered in the trash outside of an apartment building.
“I did see on the internet that there was discovery of a dead body but it didn’t cross my mind that it was his,” he told the court.
Still, he was sufficiently concerned that he cut short a trip to Bangkok, Thailand to return to his family home in Shanghai.
From there, he caught a flight to Montreal.
During a stopover in Doha, Qatar, however, Feng Lin received a telephone call from another friend in Montreal who delivered the horrid news.
“The friend told me that the body belongs to (Jun Lin),” he said.
It wasn't until he was back in Montreal that Feng Lin worked up the courage to view the first minute or so of the infamous murder video.
“I saw a man tied to a bed,” Feng testified. “After that I came to the conclusion it wasn’t him.”
Later segments of the video show the dismemberment and various other indignities committed against the dead body, including a clear image of the victim's head, which would have been identifiable to anyone who knew Jun Lin.
Magnotta had admitted to having killed his victim but is arguing that he is not criminally responsible for the acts because of a pre-existing and long-standing psychological condition, notably schizophrenia and a personality disorder.
Yet Bouthillier, the Crown prosecutor, asked Feng Lin about his and Jun Lin's sexual habits, including whether they consumed pornography or engaged in more extreme sexual practices like bondage.
Feng Lin replied that the two had an “ordinary sexual relationship” but replied with a firm “absolutely not” about engaging in bondage. They didn't do it and they didn't discuss it either, he said.
The trial resumes Wednesday afternoon.