Toronto police denied Thursday that they ignored a tip about a graphic online video that appears to depict the stabbing and dismemberment of a man days before law enforcement agencies began their search for Luka Rocco Magnotta, suspected in the slaying of a victim whose body parts were mailed out.
Roger Renville, a Montana-based civil litigation lawyer, told CBC News Thursday that he had come across the 10½-minute video Saturday morning on a website that showcases gory videos. Renville said he believes the video documents the killing and dismemberment of a man.
"Within a minute or two of the beginning of the video, it depicts one of the men stabbing the other man very obviously," he said.
"What I saw in that video exceeds your worst nightmare. It's Jeffrey Dahmer-esque."
Renville then began a series of calls to a number of law enforcement agencies in Canada and the United States over the next three days, starting with his local sheriff's office. Most agencies — with the exception of the RCMP in Ottawa — were not especially keen on finding out more about the video, said Renville.
Renville claims he called Toronto police Sunday at around noon Mountain time and told them he had seen a video that he believed depicted the killing of a man and that he believed that the apparent killer was from Toronto.
"The officer was very skeptical. He seemed like he didn't even want to talk at first, but we got to talking a little bit and he suggested that whatever I was seeing must be fake. And he suggested that special effects are pretty good these days and it'd be hard to tell if it was real or not," said Renville.
"He told me that my story didn't even make sense. Why would a killer film himself and then put it on the internet? He said, 'That doesn't make sense, that's illogical.'"
Renville persisted, and asked the officer to provide him an email address so that police could view the video themselves.
"He said no, they wouldn't be needing a link and he declined to give me an email address."
Tip handled properly, Toronto police say
Toronto police say they've looked into Renville's allegations and have a record of a call placed to them at 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday night, which would be hours after Renville claims to have called.
Toronto police say the caller never provided them with a web address of the video or any information about how to access it. Police told CBC News the call-taker was not a uniformed officer but a "non-emergency call-taker."
Toronto police spokesperson Const. Wendy Drummond said the caller was instructed to contact Crime Stoppers, an anonymous police tip line, about the video and said the call taker-handled the call appropriately.
"A call was filed, they were suggested to call Crime Stoppers," said Drummond. "They were provided with a number to call Crime Stoppers so it wasn't that we did nothing."
Sources have told CBC News that Montreal police believe they are in possession of evidence of the suspect filming the killing and dismembering of the victim. While it hasn't been confirmed if the victim in the video Renville saw was the same one that Magnotta is alleged to have killed, the lawyer said he was nevertheless "extremely frustrated" at the response from police.
He said RCMP were more interested in his story when he called them late Tuesday.
Magnotta, believed to be originally from Toronto, is wanted in a homicide investigation related to the delivery of a human foot to the headquarters of Conservative Party of Canada in Ottawa and the discovery of a torso in Montreal. Magnotta was first named as a suspect on Wednesday.
The torso was found behind a brick mid-rise apartment building, which is near the bustling Decarie Expressway.
Meanwhile, a hand was found in a package addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada at a Canada Post terminal before it could be delivered.
Montreal police said there are still remains that are unaccounted for, but they have no reason to believe they were also sent in the mail.
Magnotta, whose most recent residence was in Montreal, was listed on Interpol's website Thursday among a group of nine international suspects wanted for crimes including homicide, kidnapping and organized crime.