MELBOURNE — The police case against fugitive Luka Magnotta has been drawing comparisons to Mark Twitchell, a Dexter-inspired wannabe serial killer whose crimes are explored in my narrative non-fiction book The Devil’s Cinema.
Both were heavy Internet users — especially social media — and were eager self-promoters who ended up documenting their (alleged) crimes.
An element of reality and fantasy had also merged in their lives in very twisted ways. Hollywood fiction likely provided some degree of inspiration for real-life tragedies in both cases. And clearly filmmaking played a central role, too.
Twitchell was far more covert in his killing, however, so this case ventures into different territory on that front. The killer here is seeking out global publicity while Twitchell had global publicity thrust upon him. The motives and techniques used in selecting a victim are completely different as well.
But in any event, both of these strange cases show how a new breed of criminal is thriving in a digital age: the social-media killer.
With rapidly expanding technology that links all of us together instantly, killers are now able to be just as social-media savvy as the rest of us, as I explained in an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail (“Murderers have become online broadcasters. And their audience is us.”).