Bruce McArthur: Alleged Toronto serial killer charged with murdering at least six gay men

Landscaper thought to have targeted homosexual men and immigrants, Canadian police say 

Jane Dalton
Monday 26 February 2018 13:08 GMT
Related video: Serial killer Bruce McCarthur 'put a mental and physical strain' on gay community, says Haran Vijayanathan from Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention
Related video: Serial killer Bruce McCarthur 'put a mental and physical strain' on gay community, says Haran Vijayanathan from Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (Reuters)

A suspected serial killer accused of targeting gay men and immigrants may have killed more victims than the six he has been charged with killing, police in the Canadian city of Toronto have said.

Bruce McArthur is accused of murdering two men who were last seen in the city’s Gay Village, along with four others.

One was homeless, smoked crack cocaine and worked as a prostitute. Another was from a conservative Muslim family, who hid the fact that he was gay from them. Another was a recent immigrant with a drug problem.

Detectives said the victims fitted a pattern - people on the margins of society whose disappearance attracted little attention.

But when Andrew Kinsman, a 49-year-old LGBT+ activist with many friends suddenly went missing the day after Toronto's Gay Pride parade, his disappearance was noticed.

“There's a part of me that says Bruce wanted to get caught because he broke that pattern of preying on the vulnerable,” said Haran Vijayanathan, a community activist and executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention in Toronto.

Police set up a special task force in 2012 to look into the disappearances of men in the Gay Village area shortly after Kinsman went missing. Mr McArthur was arrested six months later.

Forensic experts found the remains of at least six men inside large plant pots found at a home Mr McArthur used to store things for his landscaping business.

Believing there are other victims, investigators have also checked at least 30 other places he is known to have worked, including in some of Toronto's wealthiest neighbourhoods.

Police arrested the 66-year-old last month and charged with murdering Kinsman and Selim Esen, 44, who were last seen near the gay village last year.

Esen, an immigrant from Turkey, moved to Canada to be with a partner he had met in his homeland.

Their relationship didn't work out and his friend Richard Harrop wrote on Facebook that he was unemployed and struggled with drugs.

Mr McArthur was later charged with the murders of three more men, including Dean Lisowick, a homeless prostitute who struggled with drugs, and Majeed Kayhan, a 58-year-old Afghan immigrant with a family and children. He was reported missing by his son in 2012. Friends said Kayhan had a sexual relationship with Mr McArthur.

The third was Soroush Marmoudi, a 50-year-old immigrant from Iran, was reported missing by his wife in 2015. His remains were found during the search for other alleged victims.

Police last week announced Mr McArthur had also been charged with the murder of Skandaraj Navaratnam, a refugee from Sri Lanka. Mr McArthur was said to have employed and had a sexual relationship with Mr Navaratnam, who was last seen in 2010 leaving a gay bar. His Facebook profile showed he was friends with Navaratnam.

Lisowick, who was in his mid-40s, had not been reported missing when police announced he had been killed.

“He was pretty much a loner most of the time,” said Jeff Tunney, a friend who rented the common area of his apartment to Lisowick for two months. “He really didn't know too many people.”

The task force also investigated the disappearance in 2010 of Abdulbasir Faizi, an Afghan who immigrated to Canada from Iran and frequented gay bars. A relative said Faizi hid the fact that he was gay from his family.

“Police were so convinced that he just decided to leave and start another life. It made the family pretty convinced that that was the case as well,” said a relative. “Nobody really looked for him.”

Kinsman, on the other hand, had search parties and scores of friends looking for him when he went missing in late June. A former bartender, he was a long-term volunteer at the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. Friends and family suspected he was dead when they gained access to his apartment two days after he went missing.

“He would never leave his cat. He would never shirk his duties. He didn't take the garbage out on Wednesday so I knew at that point,” his sister, Patricia Kinsman, said.

Police said Kinsman had a sexual relationship with Mr McArthur.

Todd Healey, a former roommate and colleague said: “It baffles me to think that Bruce could think he could get away with it. If Bruce is predominantly attacking marginalised people, then Andrew is obviously a mistake or he is tripping up because he wants to get caught.”

Mr McArthur is due back in court later this week.

Mr Vijayanathan says police didn't get anywhere in their investigations until Mr Kinsman, a prominent white man in the community, went missing. “Until that point, all the South Asian men that went missing kind of fell by the wayside and nobody paid attention until something happened in the white community,” he said.

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