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Luka Rocco Magnotta: Criminal Experts Say Suspected Killer In Body-Parts Case Wants Attention

05/31/2012 03:50 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 05:12 EDT
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MONTREAL - Experts in criminal behaviour say the suspect in the notorious body-parts case has a clear, desperate need: for you to pay attention to him.

One retired criminal profiler says the suspect, whose legal name has been changed to Luka Rocco Magnotta, reveals that need with his prolific presence on the Internet.

Jim Van Allen, a retired longtime Ontario Provincial Police criminal profiler, said Thursday that the elaborate cybertrail he left behind shows a need for notoriety.

"I think you're dealing with a person who has a pathological need for attention," said Van Allen, the former police officer and president at Behavioural Science Solutions Group Inc.

Van Allen said the shocking case has certainly resulted in notoriety for the suspect.

Van Allen said that while many details remain unknown, the extensive online postings — with pages of photos, writings on different topics and even a suspected video of the alleged murder, if produced by Magnotta — all indicate a desire for notoriety.

Police say it is likely that body parts mailed two major political parties in Ottawa are linked to a torso found in Montreal. A warrant filed in Montreal on Thursday indicates that Magnotta faces a second-degree murder charge.

Experts in criminal behaviour are paying close attention to the case for clues about the suspected killer's profile.

An international manhunt is underway for Magnotta, an Ontario-born porn actor and prostitute wanted in a gruesome case that has made headlines worldwide.

Some experts contacted said they preferred not to comment, as the investigation is on going and they preferred not to give the suspect any more attention. They also said they needed more information to provide a proper analysis of his case.

Very little is known about Magnotta himself apart from the very public web presence. For nearly two years, Magnotta has been the subject of a very public campaign by animal-rights activists who have been looking for a man that tortured and killed cats and posted videos of it online of the same name.

Pete Kilsmet, a retired FBI criminal profiler and who now teaches on the subject in Colorado, says that bit of information is indicative of violent tendencies.

Speaking generally, he said:

"You don't wake up one morning . . . and decide you're going to be sadistic today," says Kilsmet.

"The reality is that there is usually a long history behind that."

A Montreal criminal psychiatrist says it's not unusual that the suspect, despite so many bizarre online postings, could fly under the radar for so many years.

Benoit Dassylva says it's not always immediately apparent that a person is criminally troubled. He says that sometimes, looking back on a case, people will find clues in retrospect that weren't noticed before.

Dassylva says it's not entirely possible to know someone's deeper motivations without assessing the suspect in person.

Speaking generally, he said that it is true, however, that when people commit severely violent crimes they are often seeking notoriety.

"It gives them a feeling of great importance," said Dassylva, a university professor and expert at Montreal's Philippe Pinel Institute, a facility that treats the criminally insane.

"(Criminals of this kind) find satisfaction in the fact that people talk about them. By sending body parts, which is extremely rare, one possible motivation is simply to have people talk about him, but such horrific acts are unique and unusual.

"The more people talk about it the more it could make him happy."

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