Comic book creator and real estate heir Blake Leibel accused of murdering girlfriend in Hollywood

By Marnie O’Neill

Iana Kasian was tortured to death then drained of her blood, prosecutors allege. Photo / Facebook
Iana Kasian was tortured to death then drained of her blood, prosecutors allege. Photo / Facebook

Comic book creator, screenwriter and director Blake Leibel has been ordered to stand trial for the gruesome and drawn-out murder of his longtime girlfriend.

Prosecutors allege Leibel, 32, killed Iana Kasian, 30, between May 23 and May 26 in their West Hollywood apartment.

Ms Kasian had been tortured and mutilated before she was killed and all the blood had been drained from her body. She had given birth to their first child just three weeks earlier.

Leibel, who hails from one of Canada's wealthiest families, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated mayhem and torture at a Los Angeles court on Wednesday.

According to the LA County Sheriff's Department, Ms Kasian's mother had contacted authorities on May 26 to conduct a welfare check after becoming concerned she was missing.

Officers arrived to find Leibel had used "furniture and bedding" to barricade himself inside the couple's apartment.

They forced their way in and found Ms Kasian "unresponsive" in the bedroom. Her body was described as being in a "mangled" state and she had a serious head injury.

"Kasian was tortured and mutilated before she was killed and all of her blood was drained from her body," Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef said.

The couple's newborn child was reportedly with other family members at the time.

In a bizarre and apparently unrelated twist, Leibel was arrested in connection with a sexual assault one week before Ms Kasian's murder. He was arrested on May 20 and released on bail of US$100,000 and has not been charged in that matter.

Parallels have been made between the extreme horror and violence of the crime scene and Leibel's 2010 graphic novel, Syndrome.

The work centres on the "search for the bad seeds lurking in the brains of all serial killers," according to The Washington Post.

In an interview, Leibel described it as "a lengthy graphic novel that grappled with the questions surrounding what provokes a person to commit evil acts."

Syndrome opens with this chillingly prophetic scene: A TV news reporter stands outside a prison on the eve of a serial killer's execution

"Why are you here, standing against the lawful sentence of this monster who preyed on women and church-going families?" the reporter asks a woman protesting the execution.

"Hold it right there," the protester answers. "How can he be a monster if he's made in the image of god?"

Iana Kasian had been drained of all the blood in her body when police found her in the West Hollywood apartment she shared with Leibel. Photo / Facebook
Iana Kasian had been drained of all the blood in her body when police found her in the West Hollywood apartment she shared with Leibel. Photo / Facebook

The graphic novel then cuts to images of the serial killer hanging a naked couple from their ankles and slashing their throats - draining them of blood.

Leibel is famous in his native Canada as the heir to his father's huge real estate fortune. Lorne Leibel is a former Olympian athlete who competed in the 1976 games and is known by the nickname "Ferrari man".

According to gossip rag Hollywood Life, it was an open secret that Blake Leibel had received monthly payments of up to $US18000 ($A24,900) from his family since moving to Hollywood in 2004.

Not that he needed the extra pocket money. Leibel was talented and successful, directing an animated version of the 1987 Mel Brooks Star Wars parody Spaceballs. He also directed the straight-to-DVD film Bald, released in 2008 and enjoyed small cult following.

Leibel is being held without bail and will undergo a mental competency evaluation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"This is a serious matter," Leibel's lawyer Alaleh Kamran said a statement issued by publicist Howard Bragman. "Mr Leibel's defence team request that the public and the media respect his right to a fair hearing in court."

Another lawyer who had represented Leibel in past divorce proceedings expressed shock to the Times about his client.

"Him being violent is so uncharacteristic of the person I've known for many years," Ronald Richards said.

"It's hard to tell which (stresses have) contributed to any mental health issues."

Meanwhile, Ms Kasian's brother and family in the Ukraine posted on Facebook asking for assistance in sending her body home for burial.

Leibel faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. His next court date was scheduled for June 14.

- news.com.au

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 28 Sep 2016 16:03:54 Processing Time: 674ms