Human hand and foot sent to Vancouver schools
Published Tuesday, June 5, 2012 10:20PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 11, 2012 6:40PM EDT
A day after the suspect in a gruesome Montreal killing and dismemberment was arrested in Berlin, Vancouver police said a human hand and foot were delivered in separate packages to two area schools.
But police did not draw any immediate links to accused killer Luka Rocco Magnotta, saying their investigation is in its early stages and they have yet to identify the victim and the origin of the disturbing packages.
Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke told reporters Tuesday afternoon the first package containing what appeared to be a human hand was opened by a staff member at False Creek Elementary School shortly after 1 p.m. local time.
Another package containing what appeared to be a human foot was found by staff members at St. George's School later Tuesday afternoon.
"There is no indication of identity (of the victim) at this time," Lemcke said at a news conference.
However, he said that Vancouver police will "liaise" with Montreal police and any other relevant authorities as the investigation unfolds.
The B.C. Coroners Service will examine the body parts and they will be sent for DNA testing. Police are also trying to determine where the packages were mailed from, Lemcke said.
"I'd just like to say this must have been a very, very traumatic incident for all involved...in opening these packages," he said, adding that police don't believe any students or staff members were targeted.
Kurt Heinrich, a spokesperson for the Vancouver School Board, told CTV News Channel that students at False Creek Elementary did not see the package. He said staff contacted police as soon as they realized the package was suspicious.
Officials at St. George's, a private, all-boys school, said students there also did not see the package. Both schools are expected to be open on Wednesday.
The latest discovery comes on the heels of Magnotta's arrest at an Internet café in Berlin, following an international manhunt.
Montreal police have identified Magnotta as the suspect in the grisly killing and dismemberment of a Chinese student at Concordia University, 33-year-old Jun Lin.
Lin's torso was discovered in a suitcase outside Magnotta's apartment in Montreal last week. The partial corpse was later linked to a severed hand and foot that were mailed to political offices in Ottawa.
Magnotta remains in a German prison but said Tuesday he will not fight his extradition to Canada.
Meanwhile, Montreal police said they have been in contact with law enforcement officials across North America who are looking into possible links between the suspect and unsolved crimes.
Police in the Quebec town of Gatineau said they will investigate whether Magnotta is linked to an unsolved 2011 murder of a woman whose body was found beaten and burned.
Investigators were not able to track down a suspect in the murder of Valerie Leblanc and the case had gone cold.
But Sgt. Jean-Paul Lemay stressed it was routine procedure for police to look for connections between the murders given the distinct nature of both crimes.
Magnotta awaits extradition to Canada
As Montreal police field calls from other jurisdictions, it still isn't clear how long it will take to get Magnotta back to Canada, though authorities have said they're preparing documents to set the process in motion.
Magnotta is being transferred to a holding centre where he will await extradition, CTV correspondent Ben O'Hara-Byrne told CTV News Channel on Tuesday. He spent Monday night in a cell at Berlin police headquarters.
Back in Canada, Magnotta faces several criminal charges related to Lin's murder.
Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said earlier Tuesday that investigators have yet to recover Lin's head, as well as another hand and foot.
But Lafreniere told reporters there's "no indication whatsoever" that the missing parts were sent through the mail. Still, he said investigators are "not taking any chances."
All other severed body parts were discovered during an 18-hour search of an alley near Magnotta's apartment in Montreal, he said.
Police obtained surveillance footage of Magnotta bringing garbage bags out to the alleyway and matched it to additional video of the suspect mailing packages at a post office.
Lafreniere also said a video purportedly depicting Lin's dismemberment and posted online appears to show acts of cannibalism.
Montreal police say Magnotta left Canada on a flight bound for Europe on May 26.
Soon after a worldwide manhunt was launched, at least two people reported seeing the suspect in northwest Paris over the weekend. Various French media outlets say police were following Magnotta's movements through the city by tracking his cellphone activity.
Magnotta left Paris for Berlin on a bus early Monday, Lafreniere confirmed at the news conference.
He was arrested at an Internet café in the German capital without incident on Monday afternoon, where police say he was watching a video on YouTube and reading news articles about himself. The accused, who was the subject of an Interpol "red notice" at the time, was recognized by the cafe's owner who contacted police.
With files from The Canadian Press