Vancouver police trying to identify human remains sent to schools

False Creek elementary, St. George's junior school received grisly packages Tuesday

Vancouver police investigators are trying to identify the victim or victims of what appears to be a grisly crime after a human hand and foot were discovered by staff at two schools Tuesday.

A staff member at False Creek elementary discovered the hand shortly after 1 p.m. in a package. That discovery was followed an hour later by a staff member at the private St. Georges junior school opening a package to find a human foot.

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The investigation will centre on identifying the victim and from where the packages were mailed, said Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke at a news conference held at the VPDs Cambie Street station. Investigators will liaise with any outside police agencies as required.

Lemcke said investigators have been in touch with police in Montreal who are investigating the homicide and dismemberment of a Chinese national studying in that city.

Police arrested Luka Rocco Magnotta in Berlin Monday in connection with the murder. Montreal police have said the right foot, right leg and the head of Lin are still missing.

Magnotta is alleged to have mailed a foot to Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa and another body part to the federal Liberal Party.

I have to say that the investigation is only a few hours old so I cant link it to anything right now, said Lemcke, adding there is no indication staff or students were targeted in the bizarre incidents.

Police wouldnt describe the packages, to whom they were addressed or whether they had return mailing addresses. No students witnessed the discoveries, according to a school board official.

Kurt Heinrich, a spokesman for the Vancouver School Board, said police were notified and the boards crisis management team was dispatched to False Creek elementary once the discovery of the hand was made. The school wasnt shut down and students were released at 3 p.m.

We try, as much as possible, to normalize the situation and thats what were going to be trying to do in the coming days, he said, noting counsellors will be at the school Wednesday. As you can imagine its a really shocking and challenging situation.

One parent of a child at False Creek elementary tweeted I have not been contacted by school/VSB. Which is distressing.

Meanwhile False Creek parent advisory council chairwoman Larissa Warrington told the Courier Tuesday she hadnt heard many details about the incident. The schools principal only told her a suspicious package had been found.

I cant tell you very much because I dont know very much myself, she said. I was at the school picking up my kids and the only information I have is that it was a suspicious package and thats it. Everything was pretty much business as usual at the school when I came to pick up my kids. Obviously, the difference being the police cars and the media vans.

Warrington said once parents learned their children were OK, their reaction was mostly of curiosity.

The mother of five hasnt been following the Magnotta case and she didnt realize the packages sent to the two schools contained human remains.

This is the first time Ive heard that information, she said. Thats pretty gruesome. I have to say that is a surprise. Our neighbourhood is typically a happy little placewe call it Sesame Street because its like a little village. Its awesome. We love it here, so thats very out of the ordinary for us.

mhowell@vancourier.com

noconnor@vancourier.com

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