Imagine being so empty inside that you would do anything—ANYTHING—for attention.
“Anything” includes enduring multiple plastic surgeries in your early 20s and setting up dozens of websites to post thousands of pictures of yourself to create the illusion that you’re already famous.
It involves spreading rumors that you’re dating an infamous Canadian serial killer, then appearing publicly to deny the rumors and claim that someone is “stalking” you.
And when all that manufactured attention doesn’t deliver enough of a thrill, it involves suffocating kittens to death…and filming it…and posting it online…and then naming yourself as the killer because anonymity didn’t deliver enough attention.
And then, in homage to your favorite movie Fatal Instinct, it involves tying a man to a bed and dismembering him. Taking it far beyond your favorite movie, it involves filming the entire incident, hyping it online before posting, and then posting the snuff film for the all world to see.
Then, when the police catch up with you after you’ve fled overseas, it involves being nabbed in an internet café while you’re reading news stories about yourself online.
Icily cold and robotic, Luka Magnotta is Patient Zero in the fatal virus that is social media. He is the logical end to social-media narcissism.
If he had to do the sickest things imaginable to get the attention he craved, that’s exactly what he did. He would get attention if he had to kill for it.
EARLY LIFE: LONELY BOY FROM A BROKEN HOME BECOMES OBSESSED WITH MOVIE STARS
He was born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman in 1982 to a schizophrenic father and a cruel mother in Ontario, Canada. The oldest of three children, he says his mother was a germaphobe who’d routinely lock her kids out in the cold and once let the kids’ pet rabbits freeze to death outside. His parents didn’t send him to school until sixth grade.
When his parents divorced, he went to live with his grandmother, who dressed him in girls’ clothes, slept with him, and once told him he acted like a “faggot.” He would later tell a therapist that a male cousin had routinely assaulted him sexually when he was 14. He would also confess to that therapist:
All I wanted was one person to care and love me.
As a shy, acne-plagued teen, he started hearing voices and retreated into a fantasy world where he played with dolls, pretended he was a girl, and became obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, whose soul he claimed was living inside him. He also fixated on other glamorous female movie stars, writing a school book report about Ava Gardner and Sharon Stone.
He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in his late teens. He dropped out of high school, went on disability, and was admitted to a group home at age 18.
Restless and lonely, he desperately clawed at increasingly extreme ways to fill the emptiness inside.
2004-2005: GAY MODEL, ESCORT, AND PORN STAR
As he reached his 20s, he began drifting all over the world, becoming addicted to plastic surgery and leapfrogging from male model to male prostitute to gay porn actor, morphing his identity and country of origin and backstory at will. He repeatedly failed in his auditions to become a reality-TV star on shows such as COVERguy and Plastic Makes Perfect.
In 2005, he faced allegations of sexual assault after befriending a 21-year-old woman with the mental capacity of a minor. He was able to elude rape charges but was convicted of fraud after using the woman to apply for a credit card and then racking up $10,000 in unpaid charges. His defense lawyer presented evidence that he suffered from “significant psychiatric issues.” He was sentenced to nine months of community service and a year of probation. During sentencing, the judge told him:
You have a medical problem and you need to always take medication. If you do not, your life is going to get messed up.
2006: CHANGES NAME, RELENTLESSLY SEEKS ONLINE FAME
After a youth spent playing with Barbie dolls, in early 2006 he started dating a “transgendered woman” named “Barbie” who dumped him after a couple months after realizing that other people weren’t real to him. Barbie told an interviewer that he was cold, not interested in giving or receiving affection, fixated on serial killers, and CONSTANTLY creating hype and reading about himself online:
He said he wanted to be famous one day. He would always beg me to take pictures of him….He didn’t have much [sic] friends, right, so I think I meant something to him for him to—you know, he lived his life mainly online, on the internet…
In August 2006, Eric Newman legally changed his name to Luka Magnotta, swiping the “Magnotta” moniker from a popular Ontario vineyard. He also escalated his social-media presence, creating what investigators estimate are about 20 websites and 70 social-media profiles about himself, Photoshopping his own head onto pictures of others in glamorous locals such as London, LA, and Miami.
It was all fake. There was no real-life fame. But the man who had recently christened himself Luka Magnotta didn’t need real life when he had the internet.
In 2007 he started spreading rumors that he was dating infamous Canadian serial killer Karla Homolka, only to subsequently contact news reports to deny the rumors and helplessly lament that he didn’t know why his “stalker” was antagonizing him.
Still, it wasn’t enough attention.
2010: THE VACUUM KITTEN KILLER
After an alleged gang rape in Miami which left him hospitalized, Magnotta relocated to New York and took a deep dive into darkness.
In late 2010, an anonymous person—Magnotta, of course—started posting everywhere asking people if they’d seen a video called 1 boy 2 kittens.
After creating the hype, he posted the video. It shows a man, his face blurred, stuffing two kittens into a Ziploc bag and suffocating them to death with a vacuum cleaner.
It got him more attention than anything else ever had in his sick, lonely life.
A private Facebook group of animal-rights activists began the manhunt for the killer. Magnotta taunted them, revealing that the perpetrator was someone named “Luka Magnotta.”
He was so desperate for attention that he didn’t mind incriminating himself. After all, what is attention worth if you’re getting it anonymously?
Constantly starved for more and more of the spotlight, he posted more animal-murder videos such as Python Christmas, in which a snake devours a live kitten.
Then he flew to London simply to deny to a reporter for The Sun that he was the cat-killer. After interviewing Magnotta in person, reporter Alex West says Magnotta sent him the following ominous email:
This time, however, the victims won’t be small animals. I will, however, send you a copy of the new video I’m going to be making….You see, killing is different then [sic] smoking…with smoking you can actually quit.
What kind of person is so needy for attention that they fly to London simply to deny that they’re a killer, then threatens that they’re going to take their murder spree up a notch?
Rhetorical question, of course.
2011: 1 LUNATIC, 1 ICE PICK
In early 2011, after bouncing around from city to city and psychiatrist to psychiatrist, Magnotta rented an apartment in Montreal. It was to be his last semi-permanent living space outside of a prison cell.
In May, he lured a young Chinese college student from Wuhan named Justin Lin to his apartment, where, in an apparent homage to the opening scenes in Basic Instinct, he tied him to a bed, straddled him, and stabbed him with a screwdriver modified to look like an ice pick.
Magnotta would later tell a psychiatrist about his state of mind during the murder:
I don’t remember what was happening. It was like a blackout. I remember feeling wet, hearing (voices) saying, ‘cut it’….In my head, he was an agent, I was hearing static, being very afraid that he poisoned me and that is why I was feeling sick….It was like having someone inside of me taking over, like a spirit inside me; at times my body slowed down like someone making me walk and talk slow and then turning my mind slow and speeding up.
Just as he’d done with the kitty-snuff videos, Magnotta filmed himself murdering Lin. And just as with the cat videos, he began creating advance hype for his new film. On May 25, 2012, he posted an 11-minute video titled 1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick to Bestgore.com. It shows the stabbing, then a ritual dismemberment, then acts of necrophilia. Police say a “more extensive” version of the video contains possible acts of cannibalism.
Magnotta stuffed Lin’s torso into a suitcase, which he tossed near the apartment-building’s dumpster. He mailed some of Lin’s body parts to Canadian grade schools and politicians—a foot here, a hand there.
Before fleeing the country, he wrote a blog post about “How to completely disappear and never be found.” Then he used a fake passport to fly to Europe. The name on his passport was “Kirk Trammel.” Sharon Stone’s character in Basic Instinct was “Catherine Trammel.”
When police searched his apartment, they found the following message written in red ink inside his closet:
Magnotta bounced from Paris to Berlin, where an international manhunt finally caught up with him at an internet café. Multiple police apprehended him as he was glued to a computer screen, reading news stories about himself.
THE MYSTERIOUS “MANNY LOPEZ”
Magnotta freely admitted to murdering Lin but insisted he was under the spell of an abusive man named “Manny Lopez” whom he’d met while working as an escort.
In Basic Instinct, Catherine Trammel’s ex-boyfriend is named Manny Vásquez.
Magnotta says that Lopez not only directed the cat-killing videos, he was watching the murder from a mobile device outside Magnotta’s apartment while it happened and telling Magnotta what to do next.
He said that Manny was one of the men who’d sexually abused him in Miami. He claimed that over the years, Manny had stabbed him with a pencil and pen, strangled him with an electrical cord, forced him to eat worms, and made him have sex with cats and a puppy.
Magnotta’s mother confirmed that he’d been talking about “Manny” for years.
The problem is that there’s no evidence that this “Manny Lopez” ever existed. Contradicting Magnotta’s claims that they were in constant phone contact on the night of the murder, phone records show the only people Magnotta was in contact with that night were his mother and sister.
It’s possible that Magnotta concocted the persona to deflect guilt pangs for his own deeds, a scheme which a former lawyer of Magnotta’s calls “psychotic and brilliant at the same time.”
PRISON LIFE: PIZZA PARTIES AND FACIALS
A jury found Magnotta guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison with a minimum of 25 years before the possibility of parole.
He seems to be having the time of his life, milking his countless pen pals for money and favors. Pictures from his cell show a chubbier Magnotta smiling broadly in front of a Marilyn Monroe photo he’s tacked to his wall.
Excerpts from letters to fans in 2015 include:
I just bought Celine Dion’s album and a lot of others. I have a stereo and a portable for when I suntan outside.
The food here is really, really good and they serve a lot. The Italian is the best. I also love the ice cream….So, all this chocolate for Valentines Day is ruining my diet. lol. These fucking assholes said they would add Ferrero Rocher and they didn’t. They just want all their choices on the canteen. Some people are so fucking selfish it piss’s [sic] me off….I went outside and played in the snow today and made a little snowman. lol. I know it’s juvenile, but it’s still fun. Same with snowball fights. hahaha. Thankfully we have hot chocolate here.
I’m watching a documentary on Princess Diana….Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so am I lol. You are too, sexy. I wonder what it would be like to be fucked by one of the Royal family?…I bet Will and Harry know just how to use their crown jewels lol.
I really hope you’ll be able to make it in July to the little cottage here. I’ll fill out the form and put you on the list. I’ll go shopping for the food and movies. We have movie channels and movie night here, so I can get any title. Just don’t getting any ideas about raping me lol … I just watched an interview with [Captain America actor] Chris Evans, he’s so fucking hot, I would tap that as so awesome lol Channing Tatum was/is so hot in the Magic Mike Films have you seen him?
I’m really enjoy playing hockey and tennis and I’ve lost a lot of weight. I’m looking forward to next month when the volleyball nets outside will be put up. I’ve always been an amazing player. We have a nice gym here too for exercising. Its [sic] really important to getting the results I want. I spent 2 hours playing sports, one hour exercising and at night I go outside for a walk in the garden. The lilacs are my favourite.
Magnotta seems to be perfectly happy and shows not a wisp of remorse for his crimes.
And why should he? He’ll be getting attention for the rest of his life. Thanks to the internet, he will always have legions of adoring fans. It’s his dream come true.