Olga Kasian knew in late May, 2016, that her daughter was missing.
Iana Kasian, a 30-year-old mother who had only given birth to her first child three weeks prior, was not answering her mother’s calls. It had been over 48 hours.
On May 26, police officers arrived at the home Kasian shared with her fiancee, 37-year-old Blake Leibel, the son of millionaire real estate developer and former Olympian, Lorne Leibel.
It seemed an irrelevant detail that six years prior Blake Leibel had published a graphic novel titled Syndrome. Later, it would become a critical piece of evidence in a court case covered all over the world.
When officers forced their way into the apartment in West Hollywood, California, they came across a scene too horrific to recount.
Leibel had barricaded himself in, hiding from police, while the mother of his newborn daughter was lying dead in the bedroom, covered by a Mickey Mouse blanket taken from the baby’s nursery.
Kasian, police soon learned, had been brutally tortured in the lead up to her death. A coroner, according to the Toronto Sun, called Leibel’s acts of violence “unprecedented outside of wartime”.
And then investigators found his book.
The graphic novel Syndrome features detailed drawings of mutilated women, naked and covered in blood. The acts of torture are carried out by an evil doctor who uses humans as his guinea pigs.
“In the end, we all become monsters,” reads one caption in the book.
The prosecution argued that the novel served as a blueprint for the acts he committed, with his method being pulled almost directly from its pages.
The scene police walked into was eerily similar to images within the novel, and the contrast was presented to the jury in court.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told the court, “He threw away pieces of his fiancée like she was trash. The mother of his newborn baby.
“Her daughter will never know her, and that’s because of the unconscionable acts you heard about during this trial.”
A jury deliberated for only 90 minutes, before convicting Leibel with first degree murder, torture and aggravated mayhem.
Kasian’s mother left, after sitting in a court room and hearing all the unthinkable details of her daughter’s murder, at least knowing that Leibel would have no access to any other woman, including her granddaughter, Diana.