It’s like a twisted crime committed by a fiendish criminal that is found throughout Blake Leibel’s fiction novel.
Only this time it’s real.
The 35-year-old Toronto native in custody in Los Angeles after an alleged brutal slaying of his 30-year-old girlfriend Iana Kasian, mother of his 18-day old daughter.
The Washington Post reports sick details presented in court which include allegations of “torture, mutilation” and the even beyond-decency draining of the blood from her body.
It’s pure evil.
But so was the theme of a recent fiction story Leibel penned called Syndrome, as well as a movie screenplay depicting a disturbed man involved in graphic, serial murders.
Art imitating life or the other way around?
For his part Leibel, who only surrendered to the Los Angeles Police after an intense standoff in which he barricaded himself in his West Hollywood apartment, has pleaded not guilty to murder and to a sexual assault reported just a week before. He could face the death penalty if convicted, just like a character in one of his stories.
What a fall from both grace and the penthouse. Life at the top is not only what the professional champion gamer lived but also grew up enjoying — including what friends described as a $20,000 a month trust fund payment thank to his family’s wealth.
While they live big and play hard, there is a real social conscience to this family, say people close to them.
Flashy but not trashy. Philanthropic, flamboyant but also fun-loving and friendly.
Those are the kind of descriptors offered for Toronto’s own Leibel family, whose patriarch Lorne Leibel heads up Canada Homes Inc., a giant local developer responsible for many GTA neighbourhoods.
“Bigger than life and big-hearted,” said one friend. “Life of the party.”
And not just Blake or his brother Cody who has flourished in Los Angeles in both the real estate and entertainment business. But their father Lorne is a well-known renaissance man himself — a true character who not only was on the Canadian sailing team in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and Kingston where the competition took place but a top car and boat racer.
But in a book published in the United States entitled FerrariMan, a woman named Michelle Vrasic described her life being on the inside a two decade long relationship with Lorne where she experienced exquisite, luxury living where partying with the likes of Steven Tyler, Donald Trump and George Clooney was as common place as flying around on corporate jets.
How that fancy jet-set, late night lifestyle may have affected the life and rearing of now first degree murder suspect Blake Leibel is a question for the psychiatrists.
As the Washington Post reports in his book Syndrome the protagonist talks of the “sexual gratification” he derived from killing and tells his shrink that he “should try it.”
But the portrayal of a rich kid gone wrong is easy to do post this tragedy and disgusting death of a beautiful model who came from Ukraine. It may or may not have played a role but there are far more people who were raised wealthy who turned out just fine — just as there are many who have written bizarre fiction works who are not acting them out for real.
George Bigliardi and I were talking about experiencing a different side of the Leibel family during his 40 years of serving the city’s best steaks on Church Street and my years working for the Sun as the Night Scrawler.
You certainly knew when the Leibels were in the room but the vibe was nothing but positive.
“I don’t think I have ever met a nicer man than Lorne,” said retired Toronto restauranteur Bigliardi who said Leibel and his family were “perhaps his best customers” in his 40 years of running a steak house in his own name on Church Street. “This guy is a pure gentleman. First class.”
Generous with the waiters and with charitable endeavours, Bigliardi said his impression of Lorne, his sons Cody and Blake and their late mother who died of cancer, was nothing but positive.
Lorne Leibel would sometimes drive his Ferrari to the restaurant and park it out front. One time he invited Bigliardi to experience the rush of travelling 150 km/h in a speed boat all around the Toronto islands.
It was a snapshot into the kind of fast living Leibel’s children were accustomed to living.
“This is so upsetting,” said Bigliardi. “I really feel for Lorne because he is such a good person. I am going to send him a note and let him know I am there for him if there is anything I can do.”
Another close friend of the family told me they all are “devastated, grief stricken and in a state of shock” over this disturbing turn of events.
“It has drop kicked Lorne,” said a source close to him. “He is shaken.”
Someone close to him said his focus now is not just on his son but also on his newborn grandson.
Sailing legend Paul Henderson said he talked to Lorne Leibel — someone he has known for 50 years — and gave him encouragement.
The fellow Olympian and Leibel’s former coach said, “Lorne had very little to do with Blake except to fund him.
“Lorne is a very sensitive and very intelligent person,” Henderson said. “He also was very dedicated in everything he ever tried to accomplish.
“He is an old and respected friend.”
This story is the stuff of a Hollywood movie is but sadly it is also currently Hollywood reality. Peeling back the intricacies of Blake Leibel’s life is just beginning. Every line in his books or screenplays are being scrutinized looking for any hint or clue that may have been dropped.
Sadly, this is one crime story that is not fiction.