Hundreds of tips pour in for global Magnotta manhunt
Published Monday, June 4, 2012 8:17AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 11, 2012 6:36PM EDT
Buoyed by fresh tips and reports of sightings, Montreal police have expressed confidence that they're hot on the trail of the key suspect in a grisly murder and dismemberment investigation.
Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere has confirmed that police are following up on reports Luka Rocco Magnotta was spotted in northwest Paris over the weekend.
"We've been very close to catching him. I feel very comfortable, very hopeful that very soon we're going to catch him," he told CTV's Question Period in a telephone interview Sunday.
More than 360 tips related to the international manhunt have poured in, Lafreniere later told The Canadian Press. French investigators and Interpol are also participating in the investigation.
Magnotta is wanted in the death of Jun Lin, a 33-year-old Chinese student at Concordia University. Lin's torso was discovered in a suitcase outside Magnotta's Montreal apartment last week. Police later linked the partial corpse to a severed hand and foot that were mailed to the offices of political parties in Ottawa around the same time.
Three photos of a man standing in line at an airport security gate wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt appeared on Interpol's website Sunday attached to a "red notice" profile of Magnotta.
The unidentified man, who resembles Magnotta, was circled in red in the photos. However, the location of the apparent airport wasn't disclosed.
The photos were removed without notice around 1 p.m. ET.
Montreal police say Magnotta left Canada on a flight bound for Europe on May 26.
French newspaper Le Figaro reported that the 29-year-old suspect arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on the same day and was identified in surveillance footage.
Despite the reported sightings, Lafreniere says police are approaching the investigation with cautious optimism. He notes that Magnotta, billed by international media as the "Canadian Psycho," may be on the move.
"He can travel, he's someone who has been known to travel, so we're not taking any chances and we want to keep an open mind," he told CP.
French media has reported that police are tracking Magnotta through his cellphone activity.
Thibault Raisse, a reporter with Le Parisien, said Sunday that about 50 officers in Paris are working on the case, tracking Magnotta's movements through the city.
"So the last place we knew he was it was in the eastern suburb of Paris. The police went there yesterday morning and he had already left."
Other French news outlets also reported that items belonging to Magnotta were found in a hotel in suburban Paris.
Though Magnotta doesn't have a criminal background, Lafreniere noted the suspect's extensive Internet presence has provided police with a substantial amount of information.
"He's been using the Web to glorify himself, but I think it's the Web that's going to take him down," he told Question Period.