Ottawa police are probing the gruesome discovery of two human body parts mailed via Canada Post – one of them a severed foot delivered to the headquarters of the governing Conservative Party.
The capital's police force announced late Tuesday night that they had intercepted a second suspicious package containing another human body part. Media reports identified it as a hand and said it was found at a Canada Post office and was not addressed to the Tory headquarters.
A former RCMP criminal profiler said it's the first time he's heard of a Canadian political party being the target of such a horrific act. "This is the kind of stuff you might see in developing countries where you have dictatorships and coups," Glenn Woods said.
A female Conservative Party office staffer opened the first package late Tuesday morning – what turned out to be a foul-smelling foot encased in a bloody plastic bag. A hazmat team called to the scene on Albert Street briefly isolated 10 to 12 people before determining there was no health hazard present.
One Conservative source said this first package, a simple white box with a red cartoon heart drawn on it, arrived by Canada Post.
Another source said the box also contained a message, but this could not be corroborated, and a Tory source contradicted this. An Ottawa police spokesman refused to comment.
Mr. Woods, who retired from the RCMP as director of its behavioural sciences branch, said the extremely public stunt – "A very desperate fanatical act to get a point across" – doesn't sound like something the Mafia would stage.
"Organized crime generally will keep a low profile. They would never do something like this to bring [attention]" Mr. Woods said. "Their motivation is money. Short of making an example of someone who, for instance, is an informer, I have never seen them get involved in this kind of thing – particularly with a political party."
The former Mountie said an accompanying note, if one exists, will have given police a far better sense of whom they are dealing with. "To me, when you start sending human body parts, there's got to be some level of mental illness."
The Ottawa police force's major crimes division is now probing the matter, trying to determine the identity behind the parts and track down the person or people who sent the disturbing packages.
They're also talking to their counterparts in Montreal.
On Tuesday morning, a janitor working outside a building in the Côte-des-Neiges area of Montreal's west end found body parts, including a torso, in a suitcase in a pile of garbage.
Constable Daniel Fortier, spokesman for the Montreal police, said Montreal and Ottawa investigators "are talking to each other, they're staying in touch."
"But we don't know yet if it's related. Autopsies will be performed on the body parts, and hopefully we can find out who it may be. The information will be transmitted between the two forces."
A Conservative MP who showed up later at his party's headquarters was horrified by the discovery.
"It's just awful," said Saskatoon-area MP Brad Trost, who first learned about the incident from TV. He said it was probably someone's "sick idea."
"I don't think any of us are thinking this necessarily has anything to with politics," he said.
Mr. Trost showed up for a meeting but was told by police it was best to leave.
With a report from Les Perreaux in Montreal and The Canadian Press