Bruce McArthur pleads guilty to murder of eight men linked to Toronto Gay Village



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The victims of Bruce McArthur are shown in the pictures of the Toronto Police Service leaflet. The top row (from left to right) is Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick and Abdulbasir Faizi. The bottom line (from left to right) is Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Kirushna Kanagaratnam and Majeed Kayhan. McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in a Toronto court on Tuesday.

The Canadian Press

Almost a decade after the men began to disappear from Toronto's Gay Village, Bruce McArthur admitted that he was the serial killer who murdered eight men.

McArthur, a freelance landscaper who was arrested a year ago, told a judge who would plead guilty to murder in a first-degree court in Toronto Tuesday morning.

"Are you doing it voluntarily?" Supreme Court Judge John McMahon asked.

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"Yes," Mr. McArthur replied from the defendant's box.

McArthur was charged with the first-degree murders of Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majid Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman, the eight men missing from Gay Village in Toronto between 2010 and 2017.

The minimum sentence for first-degree murder is a lifelong term, with no chance of probation before age 25, so McArthur would be more than 90 years old before he could apply for probation.

Only a few details about the case were disclosed in court, through a brief statement of fact. Mr. McArthur's murders involved planning and were deliberate, the court heard. Six of the eight murders were sexual in nature, involving ligature and confinement. Several bodies of his victims were staged after the deaths; a coat used to stage several of the men was later found in the McArthur van, with the DNA of at least one victim still detectable.

He also saved some of the possessions of his victims, including a bracelet from ex-boyfriend, former employee and first victim, Mr. Navaratnam. "During a search in McArthur's room, police found the bracelet," said the prosecutor, who also found a backpack containing masking tape, a surgical glove, zippered ties, a black elastic cord and syringes. McArthur kept a notebook. belonging to Mr. Esen and jewelry belonging to Mr. Lisowick, both recovered as part of the police investigation. The officers scouring Mr. Kinsman's calendar found an entry, simply reading "Bruce" for June 26 – the day he disappeared . Relative entering Mr. McArthur's van, where they would later retrieve Mr. Parente's DNA and Mr. Esen's DNA, and the murder weapon.

Cantlon did not say what the murder weapon was on Tuesday.

During the brief appearance to make his request on Tuesday, McArthur was informed by the judge that his sentence would be life imprisonment. The only question that remains to be answered is whether their sentences for each of the eight murders will be simultaneous or consecutive. No matter what, the serial killer admitted will be ineligible for probation until he is at least 91 years old – a fact he acknowledged to the court that yes, he understood. A sentencing hearing will be held next week when families will be able to read the victim's statements, and more details about Mr. McArthur's crimes will be included in the court's record. The procedures will be translated into Farsi, Tamil and French for the families of the dead.

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McArthur's investigation was one of the largest forensic cases in Toronto's police history. Police executed more than 90 search warrants and production orders, collected 1,800 tests during a four-month search at McArthur's apartment, and also surveyed more than 100 sites linked to their landscaping business.

The remains of seven of the eight victims were found hiding in gardening planters at a home on Mallory Crescent, a property in the Leaside neighborhood where owners allowed McArthur to keep his tools in his garage. Mr. Kayhan's remains were discovered in a nearby ravine.

Mr. McArthur was born in 1951 on a farm near Lindsay, Ont., The youngest of the two daughters of a devout couple, an Irish Catholic mother and a Presbyterian Scottish parent.

As he grew older, McArthur realized that he was attracted to the same sex, but chose to ignore those feelings, according to a report prepared in 2003, when he first came into contact with the law, a conviction for aggression.

He married a woman who had been childhood friend. They raised two children in Oshawa and he worked as account manager for a socks manufacturer.

His life changed drastically after he left as a gay at age 45. He moved to Toronto and became a landscaper. He stayed on good terms with his ex-wife, and his son used to visit him in the apartment. He occasionally worked as a Santa shopping mall.

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Shortly after turning 50, McArthur went to the apartment of a sex worker in the Gay Village, and without provocation hit the man several times on the head with a metal pipe. Mr. McArthur later went to the police, saying that he did not know why he attacked his victim.

He received a conditional sentence of two years and had to stay away from the Village and not be in the company of male prostitutes.

From the fall of 2010, the men began to disappear from the village. Despite the creation of a special team, the Houston Police Project in Toronto has not been able to resolve cases for seven years.

During that time, Mr. McArthur was interviewed by the police twice in 2013 during the Houston Project and in 2016 after a sex partner said he tried to choke him. He was not a suspect on any occasion.

Toronto police began another special investigation, Project Prism, in the summer of 2017 after Esen and Kinsman disappeared. Mr. McArthur became a person of interest by the end of August 2017.

In November, McArthur became a suspect and was placed under surveillance almost every day for more than two months before his arrest, while the Toronto police searched his house several times.

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Detectives tracked McArthur's van with a GPS device and installed a secret camera aimed at a garage where he was suspected of hiding the bodies of the victims.

They invaded their apartment on the 19th floor of a skyscraper to copy the contents of a memory key, an external hard drive, and a desktop computer.

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