Back in January 2018, Bruce McArthur was arrested for the murder and dismemberment of five men. He was known as a regular at the local gay bars and worked as a landscaper. After the police discovered the remains of men who disappeared years before hidden in a ravine, everyone knew there was someone dangerous on the loose.
Last year, the Toronto police received a report about missing men in the gay scene. The first victim was Skandaraj Navaratnam in 2010. He was leaving a gay bar with a man at 2:00 a.m., and that was the last time Navartham was seen alive. The second victim was also last seen leaving a gay bar in December 2010. After the disappearance of Maeea Kayhan in 2012, the Toronto police launced “Project Houston,” which was dedicated to the investigations of these disappearances. The police realized that all the victims were of Middle Eastern descent and gay.
The police didn’t question McArthur until August 2013 after learning he had been dating Navaratnam and may have been the man he left the bar with, but police didn’t find any reason to arrest him so they didn’t look into him any further. Through Project Houston, the Police did learn that Navarantnam was murdered but didn’t find any leads. After a year and a half worth of investigating Project Houston was closed. After being questioned, McArthur took a two year break before his next victim.
In April 2017, Selim Esen was living on the streets and keep struggling with addiction when he went missing. In June 2017, Andrew Kinsman was reported missing by his family after missing work at the HIV/AIDS Network. These disappearances spurred the creation of Project Prism another investigation similar to Project Houston. During the investigation the police discovered a relationship between Kinsman and McArthur through DNA evidence found in McArthur’s van and surveillance footage that showed them leaving together.
McArthur became a person of interest in Kinsman’s case. The police searched McArthur’s house and found things that belonged to the missing men along with a roll of duct tape, a bungee cord, a surgical glove, zip ties, ropes and syringes. The LGBTQ+ community believed that Kinsman being a white man, is what grabbed the public’s concern, however police attributed their lack of suspicion was due to his age. The Globe said, “Experts told the paper most mass killers start offending in their 20s, meaning McArthur wouldn’t necessarily have fit the profile that police were seeking.” However, in 2003, McArthur first got into legal trouble after assaulting a male sex worker with a pipe.
McArthur grew up in Ontario where he realized his sexuality at a young age. He tried to hide his orientation by marrying a woman. He didn’t come out until his 40s, leaving his wife and kids and moving to Toronto where he became a regular around Gay Village. People who knew McArthur describe him as a man who loved plants and his grandchildren.
McArthur was finally arrested in early January 2018. He was originally just charged with murdering Esen and Kinsman but after discovering the remains of three more victims he was charged for the murder of Kayhan, Mahmudi, and Lisowick, as well as eight counts of first degree murder. His trail is scheduled for January 6, 2020.