Luka Rocco Magnotta, the 29-year-old accused of killing and dismembering a Chinese citizen studying in Montreal, is a self-described model and adult film actor with a sprawling online presence.

Originally from Toronto, Magnotta had been renting a $490-a-month furnished apartment in a working-class neighbourhood of Montreal for four months when the killing of Concordia University student Lin Jun, 33, occurred. 

Magnotta hasn't always gone by his current name. He changed it from Eric Clinton Kirk Newman on Aug. 12, 2006, and he has gone by other names, including Vladimir Romanov. His multiple identities were confusing enough that even Montreal police originally identified him as Rocco Luka.

Magnotta attended high school in Lindsay, Ont., and his mother, sister and other member of his family now live nearby in Peterborough, according to the CBC's Ioanna Roumeliotis. They have refused to talk to the media, but there have been reports of a troubled family relationship.

Nina Arsenault, a transgender woman who claims she was Magnotta's lover 10 years ago when she worked at a Toronto strip club under the name Angel, says he hated his family because they did not accept him. She described Magnotta as being manipulative, a liar with a short fuse and often self-destructive.

The last time Arsenault saw Magnotta was five years ago when he tried out for a short-lived Canadian reality show called Cover Guy, seeking to be an underwear model.

While he didn't win, Magnotta told the judges: "A lot of people tell me I'm really devastatingly good looking."

Magnotta has record

Montreal police have said Magnotta wasn't known to them, but he has a criminal record in Ontario.

In 2005, he was convicted on three counts of fraud under $5,000 and one count of fraudulently impersonating a Toronto-area woman. He served 16 days in pretrial custody and was given a further nine-month conditional sentence and 12 months probation. With the sentence came several conditions — including one that required Magnotta to attend and comply with a "treatment program and/or counselling for mental health issues and life skills as directed and take all prescribed medication," CBC's John Nicol learned.

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Chinese student Jun Lin, 33, was attending Concordia University in Montreal at the time of his killing. (Facebook)

The conditional sentence order did not provide any details about the nature of Magnotta's mental health issues, but included a provision that required him to sign a release allowing his supervisor to "monitor progress of about treatment and/or counselling."

It's not clear what treatment was offered or whether it was completed. Ontario's Ministry of Community and Social Service would not comment on the requirements of Magnotta's conditional sentence, citing privacy issues.

Lawyer Peter Scully represented Magnotta, who went by the name of Eric Newman at the time of the charges.

"I can't recall the circumstances, and if I did, I can't talk about them," Scully said. "But if the court ordered that he take medication, it must have been an issue at the time."

Online rumours

Magnotta was also the subject of online rumours about possible ties to Karla Homolka. But in 2007, Magnotta spoke to the Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington and denied internet rumours linking him to convicted killer Paul Bernardo's ex-wife. He asserted he had never even met Homolka.

Warmington told Carol Off of CBC's As it Happens that Magnotta didn't make much sense during their 2007 interview.

"It was one of those situations where you realize somebody is not all there," Warmington said. "I tried to be respectful and maybe even get some help — but he had a story to tell and we let him tell it.

"He talked about somebody killing his dog, and he talked about being in great demand as an escort, a male escort, that kind of thing."

Warmington said he will never forget the young man he spoke to who was "clearly troubled, and borderline delusional — at the same time friendly, somebody you kind of felt sorry for, if you will."

Warmington said he thought there was a chance Magnotta had made up the Homolka rumours himself to gain attention.

"I don't rule out anything else, but I don't have any evidence that he had anything to do with Karla Homolka at any point."

A reporter from the London Sun also had a strange meeting with Magnotta several months ago when he was looking into a video posted online of a kitten being fed to a snake. Magnotta, who was in the U.K. at the time, had been accused of uploading the video.

"I looked into his eyes — and did not like what I saw," wrote reporter Alex West. "It wasn't just his appearance that was weird — his behaviour was very odd as well. In a strange, high-pitched voice, he spent 20 minutes denying that he was involved in killing the kitten."

Two days later, the newspaper said it received an email stating: "Next time you hear from me, it will be in a movie I am producing that will have some humans in it, not just pussies .… Once you kill and taste blood, it's impossible to stop."

The email was signed with the name of a British killer, but West believes it was sent by Magnotta.

The reporter said he contacted Scotland Yard, but was told it was out of their jurisdiction. 

Fact or fiction?

Online searches for Luka Rocco Magnotta turn up numerous bizarre and disturbing posts, but what is fact or fiction is unclear.

The Luka Magnotta "official" website contains photos as well as rants about media propaganda, problems with the judicial system and cyber-stalking.

In response to what he refers to as haters and stalkers on the internet, Magnotta wrote: "I have no obsession with the limelight —  the reality is, I refuse to give interviews and I have turned down countless interviewers and media requests to appear.… Having appeared in magazines/films years ago does not constitute an unhealthy obsession with the limelight. Most people who spend all their time online belittling others probably have no life as is evident."

In spite of this, Magnotta twice posed for Fab, a Toronto-based magazine focused on the city's gay scene. He posed for racy photos for the magazine in 2005 and again in 2007, using different names each time. For one shoot, he used the name "Luca," then two years later appeared using the name "Jimmy."

A transgender woman named Julie said she dated Magnotta for a month in early 2006, and that Magnotta worked as a dancer at a strip club and as an escort.

"He talked about wanting to become famous one day," said Julie, who claimed Magnotta didn't have many friends. "He was talking obsessively about Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo as if they were his role models.

"That kind of scared me."

Magnotta didn't have sex with her, she said, because he told her he had so much sex during his job as an escort it would belittle what they had if they rushed into it.

Julie said she last heard from Magnotta about a month after they broke up, when he called to tell her he had been treated badly by someone he escorted.

Big web presence

Magnotta was accused online of recording himself suffocating two kittens and posting the video to the internet, but he has denied those allegations.

An online article about "How to disappear completely and never be found" appears to have been posted by Magnotta. The article shares a six-step process for escaping and shedding one's identity.

The author cautions that making a decision to disappear is "not an undertaking to be entered into lightly" and says "a minimum of four months is really necessary to successfully carry out the heroic actions necessary to leave your old life behind."

There is also a blog site on the internet titled Necrophilia Serial Killer Luka Magnotta, featuring photos of Magnotta and thoughts on necrophilia.

"It's not cool to the world being a necrophiliac. It's bloody lonely. But I don't really care, I have never cared what people thought of me, most people are judgmental idiots," the author wrote.

A posting on a website called Orato, which bills itself as a forum where people can speak from experience, a citizen journalist named Luka Magnotta wrote a post in 2007 about overcoming mental illness.

The author says he had a traumatic childhood and experimented with drugs and alcohol when he was a teen, and wound up being hospitalized for a "depressive disorder."

After he was released, he says he left home and lived on the streets. His life turned around when he met a social worker who got him into an assisted living facility and he got the right medication.

"I am now successful beyond my wildest dreams. I travel the world, ride around in limos, have only the most expensive clothing. I've come a long way from eating out of old pizza boxes on the streets," the author wrote.

With files from The Canadian Press