Miami police investigate Magnotta in cold case
Accused killer's travels catch the attention of investigators in several jurisdictions
The Miami Police Department is the latest force searching for ties between Luka Rocco Magnotta and an unsolved homicide, as law-enforcement agencies across the continent take a closer look at the distinct Montreal killing.
Magnotta, arrested in Berlin following an international manhunt, is the prime suspect in the death and dismemberment of 33-year-old Concordia University student Jun Lin.
While there is no evidence to connect Magnotta to any such crime elsewhere, the brutality of his alleged modus operandi and his extensive international travels have caught the attention of investigators in several jurisdictions.
The latest is a veteran Miami homicide detective, whose department has been trying to solve a three-year-old cold case that shares similarities to the Montreal slaying.
Sgt. Confessor Gonzalez plans to contact Montreal police to explore possible links between Magnotta and the mysterious, 2009 death and dismemberment of Guatemalan national Omar Laparra.
He said he will also take a look at Magnotta's movements back and forth across the U.S.-Canada border.
"I looked up the story — rather interesting," Gonzalez told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.
"If Mr. Rocco was in Miami at the time of my murder then yeah, I'll be definitely looking at him."
Who is the 29-year-old who sparked an international manhunt?
Miami, where Magnotta is thought to have spent some time in recent years, is now one of several jurisdictions reading up on the unique circumstances around Lin's death — which has shocked people around the world.
Police forces in Los Angeles and Gatineau, Que., have also indicated that they're inspecting Magnotta's recent activity because both jurisdictions have unsolved homicide cases involving corpse mutilation.
Miami police say Laparra, 21, vanished after leaving a bar in Miami's Little Havana neighbourhood early in the morning on May 31, 2009. He was never seen alive again.
Over the following several days, Gonzalez said Laparra's remains were found stuffed in four plastic bags floating in waterways around the southern part of the city.
"We were never able to put it together," he said about the case, which was described by U.S. TV show America's Most Wanted.
"It makes no sense at all why someone would do this."
Magnotta, 29, remains imprisoned in Germany, where he awaits extradition to Canada. He is expected to face several charges here, including first-degree murder.
It's unclear when — or even if — Magnotta may have been in Miami.
There have been suggestions that Magnotta, who actually filed for bankruptcy in 2007, may have used the internet for self-promotional purposes and exaggerated the lavishness of his globe-trotting lifestyle.
Internet postings suggest he lived in Miami in 2010
Several online postings declared that a person named Luka Magnotta was living in Miami in August 2010.
"Just bought myself a new Lotus (sports car) and im enjoying myself in Miami, my new home," the poster, named luka-magnotta, said at the time on a website for car enthusiasts.
"What do you guys think of my new wheels?... Its hot huh."
The post was accompanied by a photo of Magnotta sitting in a Lotus. There were also boasts about using the car to sweet-talk a female police officer into reducing a ticket, and about getting frequent sexual attention thanks to the vehicle.
The Los Angeles Police Department said that some of its detectives have discussed a recent L.A. homicide and dismemberment with Canadian investigators, though officers there made it clear they are not yet linking it to Magnotta. They simply want to know whether Magnotta was in L.A. at the time.
Last week, Gatineau police said they would contact their Montreal counterparts to look for possible connections with the 2011 slaying of an 18-year-old college student.
Magnotta, originally from Scarborough, Ont., is also believed to have spent time in New York, Paris and London.
There is one other message on a sports-car website — one that seems particularly poignant today. Two body parts were mailed to Vancouver last week. Police are now trying to determine what links Magnotta might have had to that city.
"What do you guys think of the car," a luka-magnotta posted on a different online forum, for Lotus car fans.
"I live in Miami and Vancouver ... I think I can only get away with driving it in Miami though... Nice huh."