The Twisted Minds Behind Netflix’s Viral True Crime Hit

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Introduction

Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer is a 2019 Netflix true crime documentary series. It was created by documentary filmmaker Mark Lewis and follows a group of internet sleuths who launched a manhunt for Canadian killer Luka Magnotta.

The series was directed by Mark Lewis, who is known for his true crime documentaries. He previously directed The Imposter in 2012 which won several awards. Lewis teamed up with executive producer Adam Hawkins to create Don’t F**k with Cats.

The documentary focuses on the efforts of Deanna Thompson, John Green, and other members of a Facebook group who teamed up to identify Magnotta after he posted graphic animal abuse videos online in 2010. Their amateur investigation eventually led to Magnotta being arrested for murder in 2012.

Don’t F**k with Cats became a viral sensation when it was released on Netflix in late 2019. The disturbing story and intensive online manhunt captured viewers’ attention. Within weeks, it was one of Netflix’s most talked-about true crime docuseries.

The Videos

In 2010, a disturbing video was uploaded to YouTube titled “1 boy 2 kittens” showing a masked man graphically killing two kittens. According to reports, the video depicted the torture and murder of two innocent kittens by a perpetrator wearing a mask (https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/dont-fuck-with-cats-netflix-luka-magnotta-deanna-thompson-1203479502/). This horrifying act of animal cruelty sparked outrage and mobilized amateur investigators to try and identify the killer. The video went viral and was difficult to find and remove from the internet. A Facebook group called “Find the Kitten Killer” was formed to track down the perpetrator.

In 2012, an even more disturbing video titled “1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick” was posted depicting the graphic murder of a man. The killer filmed himself brutally killing and dismembering a victim. This further galvanized the amateur investigators to try and find the perpetrator of these heinous crimes (https://www.eonline.com/news/1104820/why-netflix-s-don-t-f-k-with-cats-is-causing-so-much-buzz). The disturbing videos highlighted the dark side of the internet and the effort to try and stop violent criminals hiding behind anonymity.

The Hunt

The amateur online investigation into finding the creator of the cat killing videos began in 2010 on Facebook. A group called “Find the Kitty Killer” was created by animal lovers seeking justice. The group was led by Deanna Thompson, a data analyst living in Vancouver, and John Green, a musician in Las Vegas (Source). They began gathering clues by analyzing details in the videos frame by frame. For example, they looked at reflexions, objects in the background, and any audible sounds or voices that could provide geographical clues.

The Facebook group expanded to thousands of members across the world who collaborated to try and identify the perpetrator. According to a user review on IMDB, “It was amazing to see the different skill sets that the members brought to the group and how they all worked together” (Source). The group tracked down several false leads at first, but did not give up. They were determined to work together to find the person responsible and bring them to justice.

Identifying the Killer

The Facebook group dedicated to finding the killer was instrumental in identifying Luka Magnotta as the perpetrator. After analyzing the cat killing videos, they were able to uncover several key clues that eventually led them to Magnotta.

One of the first clues was the poster in the background of the videos, which the Facebook group determined was from the film Casablanca. They then began searching online to find any connection between that poster and a person. This led them to an obsessed fan of the film named Luka Magnotta, who had the poster displayed prominently in his apartment (ESquire).

Further investigation into Magnotta revealed that he had a history of fraud and ties to animal abuse websites. The Facebook group was able to match distinct markings on Magnotta’s mattress to the one seen in the cat videos. They also recognized his voice from an appearance he made on a Canadian reality show (DigitalSpy).

By aggregating all these clues and Magnotta’s online presence, the Facebook group definitively identified him as the likely perpetrator of the cat killings. They repeatedly tried to alert authorities, fearing that Magnotta could escalate to killing humans. Tragically, their warnings were not heeded in time.

Aftermath

After Magnotta was identified as the killer, an international manhunt ensued. Interpol issued a red notice for Magnotta, alerting police worldwide that he was wanted for arrest (1). Magnotta fled from Montreal to Paris, France under a false identity. He was eventually tracked down and arrested on June 4, 2012 at an internet café in Berlin, Germany (2).

When Magnotta was brought back to Canada, he was charged with first-degree murder, committing indignities to a body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament, and mailing obscene and indecent material. He pleaded not guilty on all charges (1).

Magnotta’s trial began in September 2014 and lasted 10 weeks. On December 23, 2014, he was found guilty of all charges and received a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years (1).

Sources:

(1) https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/a30308038/netflix-dont-fuck-with-cats-luka-magnotta/

(2) https://screenrant.com/dont-f-with-cats-facts-left-out-netflix-docuseries-luka-magnotta/

The Murder

On May 24, 2012, 33-year-old Chinese student Jun Lin was murdered in Montreal, Canada in a horrific and gruesome killing that was filmed and posted online by his killer Luka Magnotta. According to police reports, Magnotta stabbed Lin repeatedly with an ice pick, slit his throat, sexually assaulted him, and dismembered his body (1). The murder was apparently planned in advance, as Magnotta had purchased the tools he used to kill and dismember Lin, including the ice pick and a knife, in the days leading up to the murder.

After killing Lin, Magnotta filmed some of the crimes and posted a 10-minute video titled “1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick” online, which showed Lin’s murder and subsequent dismemberment. The video shocked the world with its graphic and disturbing content when it circulated on the dark web and gained attention in May 2012. In the video, Magnotta is seen stabbing Lin’s body dozens of times with an ice pick and a knife, later performing sexual acts with the corpse and dismembering the body. He mailed Lin’s hands and feet to schools and political party headquarters in Canada (2).

The murder was premeditated, and Lin was likely targeted after responding to an online ad posted by Magnotta looking for male company (3). Their meeting at Magnotta’s apartment in Montreal ultimately led to the brutal filmed murder. Authorities launched a massive international manhunt for Magnotta after the video circulated online. He fled Canada to Europe after the killing, but was eventually arrested in Berlin on June 4, 2012 after an international warrant was issued for his arrest.

Police Response

The police response to the crimes committed by Luka Magnotta was swift once law enforcement became aware of the disturbing video he posted online. The Montreal police set up a specialized task force named “Operation Trojan Horse” to coordinate the investigation between their department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The police investigation determined that the victim in the video was Jun Lin, a Chinese university student that Magnotta had met previously. After identifying the victim, investigators were able to link Magnotta to the crime scene at an apartment he was renting in Montreal. Forensic analysis of the apartment revealed extensive evidence such as blood stains matching Lin and video footage connecting Magnotta to the murder and dismemberment.

Law enforcement was able to track Magnotta’s movements after the murder to Paris based on eyewitness accounts and security footage. Interpol issued a worldwide alert for Magnotta and he was apprehended by Berlin police on June 4, 2012 reading news stories about himself at an internet cafe. Magnotta was extradited back to Canada on June 18, 2012 to face first-degree murder and other charges related to the killing and dismemberment of Jun Lin.

The Trial

Luka Magnotta stood trial in September 2014 for the murder of Jun Lin. He was charged with first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament, and mailing obscene and indecent material. Magnotta admitted to the acts but pleaded not guilty, citing insanity. Over the course of the 10-week trial, the prosecution argued that Magnotta had planned the murder and dismemberment, while the defense claimed he was in a psychotic state at the time and unable to tell right from wrong. On December 23, 2014, the jury delivered a verdict after 8 days of deliberation, finding Magnotta guilty of all charges including first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years (source).

Controversies

The documentary sparked ethical debates surrounding the filmmakers’ methods and some of the amateur investigators’ actions. Critics argued that the film glamorized and exploited a grisly murder for entertainment. Some felt it was unethical for the filmmakers to collaborate with Magnotta by using footage he recorded of himself and his crimes. There were also concerns about vigilantism, doxxing, and the harassment of an innocent person mistakenly accused of being Magnotta by the Facebook group. As Variety’s Caroline Framke wrote, “The film struggles to reconcile the Facebook group’s quest for justice with the reckless glee with which they approached it.”

Others defended the documentary as bringing needed attention to the dangers of violent online content. But most agreed that the film failed to fully address the many ethical issues it raised. As one Reddit user wrote, “They spend like 30 seconds on it, say it was tragic and unfortunate, and move on. No responsibility is taken by the film makers or the internet detectives.”

Sources:

https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/dont-fuck-with-cats-netflix-luka-magnotta-deanna-thompson-1203479502/

[DISCUSSION]Don’t Fuck With Cats’: I honestly hated this show. WAY too slow moving and the docu made the internet sleuths seem like heros, in reality they were wack jobs.
byu/Bluest_waters inNetflixBestOf

Legacy

The documentary Don’t F**k With Cats had a significant impact and left an important legacy. Though it told the disturbing story of Luka Magnotta and his cruel acts, it also highlighted the power of online communities working together for good.

The amateur Facebook group who came together to try to identify and stop Magnotta demonstrated how ordinary people can leverage the internet and social media to make a difference. Their perseverance and teamwork, driven by the noble cause of preventing animal cruelty, led to critical clues that ultimately helped law enforcement catch a dangerous criminal.

While the documentary cautions about the disturbing content that can exist online, it also empowers viewers to believe they can confront that darkness. It shows how small acts of courage, compassion, and vigilance can sometimes stop tragedies before they occur. The story leaves a legacy of hope that if good people work together and use technology responsibly, the internet can help stop terrible acts instead of enabling them.

Perhaps most importantly, the documentary created lasting awareness about animal abuse and led to increased support for protecting vulnerable animals. Though it exposed the horror of Magnotta’s acts, it led to real change by inspiring more advocacy for animals and smarter laws to defend them from cruelty. That positive legacy helps redeem the tragedy of the story for viewers.

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