Manitoba bus beheader, Vince Li (L)and Interpol handout photo of Luka Magnotta (R)
Credits: REUTERS/FRED GREENSLADE
WINNIPEG - Suspected killer Luka Magnotta - pursued by a global police manhunt following a Montreal slaying and dismembering of a man last week - might not be much different in some respects than Manitoba bus-beheader Vince Li.
That suggestion was made Friday by Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, who has made regular visits to Li at Selkirk Mental Health Centre -- where he's locked up and under treatment due to his grisly killing of Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in southern Manitoba in July 2008.
"I've met thousands and thousands of people with schizophrenia, and I've never met a person like this," Summerville told QMI Agency of Magnotta, "Other than Vince Li."
Police have issued an arrest warrant for Magnotta on charges of first-degree murder, indignity to a human body, criminal harassment of the prime minister and Parliament, and producing and distributing obscene materials.
International agency Interpol is involved in the search for the 29-year-old former pornography actor who is alleged to have killed, cut to pieces and partially eaten 33-year-old Jun Lin.
The horrific slaying made headlines around the world after a severed foot was mailed to the federal Conservative Party's headquarters in Ottawa and a hand, destined for a Liberal Party office in the nation's capital, was intercepted at a Canada Post depot.
Summerville, however, said he has no way of knowing whether Magnotta, like Li, suffers from schizophrenia.
"When a human being does something as horrible as this to another human being, the causes could be multiple. It could be mental illness," he explained.
"People with mental illness can do bad things and make decisions of which they're fully aware that they're doing something wrong ... On the other hand, I do believe in the concept of evil. And there are evil people in this world."
If Magnotta is schizophrenic or has another mental illness, Summerville said, "hopefully he'll get help and treatment" for it.
And if he can't understand the significance of what he's alleged to have done, he added, "generally, those are the kinds of people to be deemed not criminally responsible" for such crimes.
"Even with the facts we know of Magnotta, it's not enough to know, still, if he can appreciate the crime," he said.
"Even if there is mental illness, that doesn't mean that he didn't have complete insight ... people with mental illnesses can do wrong and bad things, and know fully well what they're doing. And that's a whole lot different than Mr. Li's case."