One of the most disheartening things about Magnotta's case was the apparent disinterest and/or inability of multiple police forces in Canada to do anything about his sadistic videos. One of the most heartening things was the mobilization of hundreds of people around the world behind an effort to identify and try to do something about the man making these abhorrent videos. Stephen Maher's Postmedia News article outlines these two elements quite well.
[A]nimal lovers around the world had been on [Magnotta's] trail for two years.
They notified humane societies and police departments in Toronto and Montreal, posted rewards, spent countless hours poring over videos and photos for clues, established a thick dossier on Magnotta, and identified fake Internet personas that seemed to be leaving false trails to confuse the people pursuing him.
They were motivated by four horrible videos in which a young man gleefully kills kittens. In the first one, in 2010, a young man alleged to be Magnotta suffocates two kittens in a plastic bag. A few weeks later, he posted a related video.
By January of 2011, after frantic online searching, animal lovers tentatively had identified Magnotta as the suspect. They meticulously compared photos that Magnotta posted of himself, identifying jewelry and furnishings that appeared in both, until they were certain they had found the right guy.
They then focused on finding him, something which was made more difficult by the many apparently fake photos Magnotta seems to have posted — using a host of false online identities — showing him in cities around the world.
Volunteers analyzed the digital fingerprints of the photographs and identified the camera used to make the videos, linking it to photos of Magnotta. They tracked down products in the background of his pictures, tried to figure out when and where they were sold.
They tried to place him in particular places at particular times, using film posters and landmarks in the backgrounds, analyzed accidental reflections of his camera, and established that he was in the Toronto area.
In December 2011, he posted two more videos, in which kittens were killed in horrible ways.
On the Facebook group where they shared photos, member after member fretted that he would move on to human victims.
"He might end up killing human beings one day though," wrote one member in December 2011. "He might just not stop with animals. He needs to be caught ASAP."
[. . .]
In a statement released Thursday, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported that after being informed of the allegations in February, 2011, they reached out to Toronto Police, the FBI, the RCMP, the Quebec Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Montreal police.
Montreal police are dealing with a Mafia war, various corruption investigations and, more recently, a mass student protest, and may not have had time to track down a kitten killer.
[. . .]
Commander Ian Lafrenière, of the Montreal Police Service, told me Thursday that he doesn’t know yet what kind of information the force received about Magnotta and the kittens, but animal protection law is not as strong in Quebec as it is in other jurisdictions.
"The question is, when this is over, can we backtrack and check this out? You know what, we've been there for more than 130 years and we're still improving. So if something could have been done better we're more than happy to do so."
His police force and others should ask themselves these questions. Well-meaning people around the world were ringing alarm bells about Magnotta, and the police seem not to have heard.