Though Luka Rocco Magnotta may not have been well-known to most Canadians until police announced this week they were looking for him in connection to a grisly murder and the mailing of body parts, he's had a shadowy online presence for years.

Tracing his apparent digital footprint, the picture that emerges is one of a disturbed narcissist who's accused of dangerously bizarre obsessions. But, as with all things of the Internet, it's difficult to tease out the fact from the fiction.

Magnotta's name has been notorious among animal lover groups for years, a number of which allege he created and uploaded online videos in which kittens were killed by suffocation in plastic bags or by being fed to snakes.

Police say they are also examining a video posted online last week that shows a naked man being murdered with an ice pick and dismembered, to determine whether the victim is the same man whose foot was mailed to Conservative Party headquarters and whose hand was sent to the Liberal Party.

Much of the Magnotta's online identity seem to have been self-created. A website he appears to have created called "Luka Magnotta Male Model" is loaded with both professional and amateur photos of himself, most of them shirtless.

Though it appears the site is meant to solicit modelling offers, it offers no contact information.

Two long rants are included, entitled "Cyber stalking," and "Media propaganda." The rants are rambling and confusing, though fairly well-written, revealing a man who appears both self-obsessed and paranoid, but perhaps a little pleased with himself.

"I live a convivial, sociable and vigorous life and for anyone to judge me by the virulent fiction they read online, would be naive, ignorant and incongruous," he writes.

"I do not necessarily feel the need to redeem my reputation since the people that know me best will be more than happy to vouch for my honesty in conduct and I can provide many satisfied and loyal references if necessary."

"I have no obsession with the limelight," he adds enigmatically.

"The reality is, I refuse to give interviews and I have turned down countless interviewers and media requests to appear. I have had many oppertunities (sic), the thing is, it just is not that important to me and it does not interest me any longer. Having appeared in magazines/films years ago does not constitute an unhealthy obsession with the limelight."

It's not clear what interviews Magnotta might be referring to, but in 2005, he appeared as a "Fab Boy" in fab, a magazine dedicated to the gay community.

In a segment similar to the Sunshine Girl in Sun Media newspapers, he posed for a shirtless photo and identified himself as "Jimmy." He told the magazine he was born in Russia and hoped to become, of all things, a police officer.

"I don't want to do traffic tickets," he said. "I am thinking vice or homicide."

Two years later, Magnotta went on a Toronto radio talk show on Newstalk 1010 to insist he was not in any way connected to convicted killer Karla Homolka. He told the radio station that rumours to the contrary had been circulating and were ruining his life.

"I have lost modelling jobs and have been receiving death threats," he told host John Downs. "People are so stupid because I don't even know Karla Homolka."

The next day, Magnotta agreed to be interviewed by the Toronto Sun writer Joe Warmington..

"He was really strange, I must say -- perhaps the strangest person I've ever interviewed," Warmington told CTV's Canada AM Thursday about the 2007 interview.

"He seemed intoxicated or under the influence of something. But once we started talking about Karla Homolka, he perked right up," Warmington said.

Magnotta insisted he had no connection to Homolka, saying he had been receiving death threats over the matter, and that someone had killed his Pomeranian and stolen his SUV. He said he had been working as a porn actor, stripper and male escort, that he was addicted to cosmetic surgery but that he was seeing a therapist.

But as they talked, Warmington says he began to suspect that Magnotta was making the whole thing up.

"I felt he had conjured up this whole notion himself. Montreal police, as you know, haven't ruled anything out, so we'll have to wait and see. I felt it was just his way of getting attention," he said.

Last year, a man by the name of Rocco Magnotta authored an online post called "How to disappear completely and never be found," which describes a six-step process for shedding one's identity.

Magnotta may have already used some of those pointers, changing his name in 2006 from Eric Clinton Newman.

On Facebook, there are now at least 14 profile pages created for Luka Magnotta, though it's unclear how many were created by him.

One, created as a fan page in 2009, describes him "a Canadian male model who has become world famous through his photographs and television appearances."

The page is loaded with dozens of photos in multiple photo albums and contains a number of angry comments from those accusing him of killing cats.

Under the page's info tab, Magnotta's interests are said to include "travel, restaurants, culture, and surrounding myself with good people."