A graphic novelist who murdered his fiancee and mutilated her body has been ordered to pay $41.6 million to his victim’s family as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Blake Leibel is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated mayhem and torture last year. He reportedly used the premise of his graphic novel, “Syndrome”, as the blueprint for the murder of 30-year-old Iana Kasian in 2016, inspiring him to rip her scalp from her head and drain her blood. Kasian had just given birth to Leibel’s child, a baby girl named Diana, weeks before her death.
The child is now being cared for by Kasian’s mother in her native Ukraine. The $41.6 million will be used to help her support the girl, who turns three in May, the Los Angeles Times reports.
It was not immediately clear if Leibel, who came from a wealthy family, had the resources to pay the money.
Leibel was born into a wealthy Canadian family who supported him financially much of his life. His father, Lorne Leibel, made a fortune selling homes in Toronto, and sailed on Canada’s 1976 Olympic team. His mother gave him allowances totalling $1.8 million over the course of his seven years in California, where he then lived off the remainder of her estate after her death in 2011.
Blake Leibel moved to California in 2004, where he forged a career in the entertainment industry, and briefly worked on the show “Spaceballs.” He married and had a son with his wife, whom he divorced in 2015. Soon after, Kasian became pregnant with his child.
Kasian worked for many years as an attorney in her home country of Ukraine prosecuting tax crimes before immigrating to the United States in 2014.
She was found dead in the apartment she shared with Leibel in 2016, after he barricaded the doors of their home to keep police from entering and shut himself in a room with Kasian’s body. He used a sharp object and his hands to remove her scalp and drained the majority of the blood from her body, which eventually killed her.
She was alive, however, for most of the “prolonged attack” which lasted at least six hours. Evidence suggested that she was dragged through the home, and held under water for some period of time. Graphic photos of Kasian’s body were shown during the trial, showing her eyebrow removed and her facial bones and muscles exposed.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Leibel murdered Kasian because he was jealous of the attention she gave to their newborn baby.
They also believe that Kasian’s bizarre and violent death was inspired by the plot of Leibel’s 2010 graphic novel “Syndrome,” which tells the story of a doctor trying to isolate the root of evil in the brain.
The book begins with the passage: “If you loved hurting things, what would you do?” It ends with an image of a hand dripping in blood, alongside the caption, “‘In the end, we all become monsters.”
Through a Russian translator during his sentencing, Kasian’s mother, Olga, said that Leiber himself is a monster.
“This monster ruined our life, ruined the life of his family,” she said.
Leibel was not present in court when a judge ordered him to pay the restitution to the Kasian family, and did not send an attorney in his place.
The Kasian family’s lawyer, Jake Finkel, said in court that Leibel robbed his daughter of the experience to have a normal life.
“The most precious thing to take away from a little girl, from a woman, is her mother. [Diana’s] mother was taken away from her before she even got a real chance to learn about her, get to know her,” he said. “At one point, she’s going to learn about the reality of her mother, and what happened to her, and her biological father and what he did to her mother.”
“This murder didn’t just kill one person, it really did kill the family, it shattered the family. And the family has had a hard time crawling back from this,” he continued.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to the reporting of this story.