© Calgary Herald
Plastic surgery: Magnotta bidding for an op on TV in Canada
Investigators are trying to unravel his sick fantasy world, which began in the Toronto suburbs where he grew up - and spread to London

Youngster Eric Newman smiles innocently into the camera for his school yearbook picture.

Back then, in 1993, he was a painfully shy 11-year-old who retreated into a fantasy world to forget his nightmarish home life.

In a bid to impress his disbelieving classmates, he spun incredibly outlandish tales - something he continued to do long after leaving school.

As an adult, he'd lie about being the lover of Canada's most notorious female killer.

Today, however, Eric stands accused of something which truly defies belief.

For he grew up to become Luka Magnotta, the 29-year-old arrested over a cannibal slaying.

According to police, he killed and mutilated gay lover Lin Jun, then ate his flesh with a knife and fork. He also filmed it all and later posted the sick video online.

© Spalsh
Slick: Boasting on website in 2007.
The victim's hands and feet were even posted to politicians and schools in his native Canada.

After a massive worldwide manhunt, he was finally arrested in a Berlin internet cafe on Monday.

According to reports, he was reading online accounts of his alleged crimes at the time.

Investigators are now trying to unravel his sick fantasy world, which began in the Toronto suburbs where Eric grew up - and also spread to Wembley, North London.

His upbringing was certainly brutal - and at least one of his relatives always suspected there was something seriously wrong.

An aunt, who asked not to be identified, said: "He is a nut job - he was a time bomb waiting to explode."

His parents - Anna Yourkin and Donald Newman - were just teenagers when he was born and they split up soon after.

Eric was then brought up mainly by his domineering granny Phyllis Yourkin. Beatings were common and Eric - the eldest of three - took the brunt of his grandmother's temper.

Out of his home, he wanted to fit in at Charlottetown Junior School in the sprawling Toronto suburb of Scarborough.

But the few classmates who remember him say they used to laugh at the tall tales he told.

The spotty, blue-eyed boy even tried to make Eric, his old-fashioned first name, sound more glamorous.

He claimed his mother had named him after Hollywood star Julia Roberts' actor brother Eric.

It was a strange claim - because Julia and Eric's careers had not taken off when he was born.

When caught out by his lies, there were flashes of violent temper - at 12 he hurled a chair at a teacher.

As he entered his teens he had overly effeminate mannerisms - and boasted about his sexual conquests.

Around the same time, he left Toronto and moved with his granny in Lindsay, Ontario.
© Calgary Herald
Plastic surgery: Magnotta bidding for an op on TV in Canada.
His classmates at IE Weldon Secondary School remember him as a kid who constantly switched his hair colour from jet-black to peroxide blond.

But his aunt feared for his mental health. "I didn't trust him," she said.

"He is mentally ill. He has delusions of grandeur. He concocts stories and they, in turn, become fact in his mind."

Eric's mother and sister Melissa still live near the granny's scruffy red-brick house, which serves as a crash pad for relatives - and often the scene of trouble.

A 21-year-old cousin Louis Yourkin - who looked up to the older Eric as a child - is in custody on drug and gun possession charges.

Last year a blaze ripped through the house, injuring a 14-year-old who was later charged with starting the fire.

Melissa refused to talk as she scurried out of her home last week.

She claims her brother left their lives when he was 19 and returned to Toronto.

Three years after he departed the family home, Eric had his first brush with the law.

He was accused of stealing a girlfriend's credit card and using it to buy TVs, DVD players and phones.

He was sentenced to nine months' jail but charges that he sexually assaulted the girl were dropped.
© Youtube
Online video: Magnotta posted videos while wanted by police.
Through his 20s, he began to use a variety of exotic-sounding names and would claim to be an escort and porn star.

According to one lover, transsexual cabaret performer Nina Arsenault, he also worked as a stripper in a gay nightclub.

She said Eric would often became so angry he would repeatedly punch himself in the head.

"He said there was some messed-up stuff that happened to him when he was a kid," she said.

But she found it hard to separate fact from fiction. He told her he had a baby and was in the Russian Mafia.

His aunt also discovered he'd gone to a Toronto paper to deny "rumours" he was dating killer Karla Homolka after her release.

She was jailed for just 12 years in 1993 for the rape and murder of three young girls, including her sister Tammy.

However, the aunt, along with other people who have checked out the anonymous internet rumours, believe he actually started the gossip himself.

"He will create a conflict, then will take himself out and deny the content of the story, which he in fact started," she said.

In 2007 Eric had plastic surgery to raise his cheekbones.

He switched between male and female lovers and boasted on the web about the size of his manhood.

Magnotta also uploaded videos of himself torturing animals, once feeding a kitten to a giant Burmese python.

That was believed to have been recorded in a room over a pub in Wembley, where he lived briefly last year.

However, the alleged cannibal slaying has left everyone in shock.

His aunt said: "This family, from the head down, is very dysfunctional. The essence of this whole story is parenting - or the lack of.

"The grandmother is very controlling, and if you have a submissive personality, she will do what she wants."

Criminal profiler Lee Mellor has written a book on 60 Canadian serial killers.

He says the alleged Cannibal Killer is a text-book example of a child starved of affection, who goes from making up stories to harming helpless animals to murder.

Comment: There is often an attempt to take an apologists view of psychopathy by placing blame on the family. What is ignored is the fact that many people grow up "starved for affection" and somehow go on to live fairly normal lives. What is also ignored is the research which has shown that psychopaths brains are often different from those of normal humans - a crucial piece of the puzzle.

And he said it was likely there were other victims waiting to be discovered.

He warned: "I would not be surprised to find that Magnotta was responsible for at least one or two previous homicides."

Fears for more victims

Detectives investigating the gruesome murder of Lin Jun are desperately trying to unravel the internet boasts of Luka Magnotta to find out if he has killed before.

Commander Ian Lafreniere, of Montreal Police, said: "We are looking at unsolved murders, but our problem is the fiction.

"Everyone would love to link him to every unsolved murder in North America because like your Jack the Ripper he has made taunts about what he has done."

Police are now creating a timeline to see if they can place Magnotta at murder scenes.

Commander Lafreniere said: "It is a horrible task because he travelled everywhere using different names.

"He has 70 Facebook accounts, 20 websites and numerous YouTube pages."

Magnotta claims to have links to the 2006 murder of a businessman whose body parts were found under the Hollywood sign in LA.