Photo: Romeo Salta
A gay porn actor and alleged prostitute named Luka Rocco Magnotta was arrested last week in Berlin and charged with killing Canadian university student Jun Lin.After the killing, Magnotta allegedly cut up Lin’s body and mailed the parts to Canadian politicians.
He’s now in a Berlin jail awaiting extradition to Canada.
But when he was caught, he was busy looking himself up online — basking in his notoriety.
The murder itself was a testament to Magnotta’s search for recognition. He reportedly filmed himself committing the act in an 11-minute video, while listening to a song from “American Psycho.”
That craving for the spotlight, it turns out, was nothing new.
It had played out before in early January 2011, according to New York attorney Romeo Salta, when Magnotta was hiding in a 10th Avenue apartment and desperate for legal advice.
The encounter between Salta and Magnotta offers a disturbing glimpse into the mind of the man who allegedly committed this horrific crime.
I met Salta about the same time Magnotta did, when I rented an apartment in a building he owns on the Upper West Side. Salta contacted me recently and told me he had talked with Luka Magnotta about a legal situation from that time and received a string of disturbing emails and a photo from him. I agreed to meet with him and this is what he told me.
On January 4, 2011, Salta was walking down Broadway thinking about the New Year he’d just rung in with his wife and daughters, when his cell phone rang. Pulling off a glove, he dragged the phone from his coat pocket and said hello. From the other end he heard: “My name is Luka Rocco Magnotta. My life is in danger and I need your help.”
Switching the phone to his other ear, Salta slipped his glove back on against the wind, continued walking to his office, and listened to what Magnotta had to say.
It was quite a story. And it seemed to be based enough in fact to compel the longtime criminal defence attorney to believe the man on the phone was telling the truth.
Magnotta was in a frenzy of panic following animal rights activists’ explosive reaction to a YouTube video allegedly showing him suffocating two kittens in a plastic bag. Carrying a $5,000 bounty on his head, Magnotta was in hiding, he told Salta, fearing arrest at any moment. He also claimed he was suffering untold abuses from a former prostitution client — Manny.
Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider
Magnotta offered Salta the basics on the phone, saying he’d gotten his name from a friend, but wanted to meet at his office as soon as possible. Salta agreed and Magnotta showed up at his office a short time later looking for advice on turning himself in and getting represented when he did.”He sat in that chair you’re sitting in right now,” Salta told me in an interview recently at his office. “He was convinced his life was in danger. No doubt about it, but at the same time he seemed utterly dead emotionally.”
Magnotta told Salta how the former client, Manny, had been holding him captive, riddling him with persistent and depraved abuse. He said he was unable to escape Manny’s clutches and powerless to disobey his commands. One of these demands had been to kill the kittens, Magnotta said. It was not his fault, Magnotta said, but Manny’s.
This was, in fact, a story very similar to what serial killer Karla Homolka had told police about her husband when she was arrested in 1993. Homolka said her husband had forced her to kill several young girls. Magnotta claims to have dated Homolka after her release from prison. Whether or not that’s true is a source of debate, but what’s clear is that Magnotta likely has an intimate understanding of her case.
“I’ve got a pretty good BS detector,” Salta said. “And it seemed like he was telling the truth. I believed him and I never imagined him to be a violent person. He was a little guy. He looked like a victim.”
The meeting concluded with Magnotta promising to send Salta some emails detailing his abuse and pledging payment of $300. But he said he “Needed to run out and turn a few tricks first.”
Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider
“He really seemed to crave the spotlight,” Salta said. “Like he wanted to be famous. I remember him telling me he would turn himself in. That he didn’t mind jail as long as he could be protected.”
Magnotta’s emails began arriving almost immediately. They outline in painful, vivid detail what Magnotta says Manny did to him. The list includes a kidnapping and run down to Miami Beach where Magnotta admitted himself to Mount Sinai Hospital after claiming he was raped.
While Magnotta says doctors didn’t take his claims of abuse seriously, they did put him in a psychiatric ward for 24-hours before assigning him a clear and stable mental condition and releasing him.
Fifteen months later, Canadian student Jun Lin was dead, his body parts travelling by mail to political offices throughout Canada.
As my interview with Salta wound down I picked up the stack of emails and took a couple of pictures. “Did he ever give you the three-hundred-bucks?” I asked, walking out the door.
Salta chuckled. “He did. He was back before lunch and paid me in cash.”
There’s no better way to get a glimpse at what was in Magnotta’s head than to see the emails themselves. I’ve uploaded them to Scribd and inserted the link below.
BEWARE. Seriously, the list of abuses is starkly disturbing. I redacted phone number, but other than that they are unmodified in any way.
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