Bruce McArthur, Toronto's Gay Village Serial Killer, Sentenced To Life In Prison

The 67-year-old McArthur won't be eligible for parole for 25 years. 

By Eric Shorey

Bruce McArthur, who pleaded guilty last month to serial killings targeting men in Toronto's Gay Village, has been sentenced to eight concurrent life sentences.

McArthur confessed in late January to killing and dismembering eight victims between 2010 and 2017. The 67-year-old won't be eligible for parole for another 25 years, according to the BBC. At the sentencing, Justice John McMahon called the crimes "pure evil."

Most of McArthur's victims were refugees and immigrants who frequented gay bars and clubs in the rapidly gentrifying area of the city where many LGBTQ citizens live. Some of the victims were not openly gay; some had struggled with addiction and homelessness.

And at the time of his 2018 arrest, McArthur had his potential ninth victim shackled to a bed, prosecutors revealed during the course of the trial. Also discussed was McArthur's habit of taking pictures of his victims in various costumes, according to The Washington Post.

McArthur, who worked as a landscaper, hid most of the remains of his victims in flower pots on the property where he worked. 

With his first murder occurring in 2010, LGBTQ activists have questioned what took police so long to crack the case. Local LGBTQ organizations, including the The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, a wellness program in Toronto, hypothesized that anti-gay and racist bigotry prevented them from solving this case efficiently, noting that police investigations were only amped up after a white man was killed in 2017.

"We believe that the Toronto Police Service failed to provide adequate resources and effort in their investigations of the disappearances of Skanda Navaratnam (2010), Abdulbasir Faizi (2010), Majeed Kayhan (2012), and Selim Esen (2017)," the Alliance wrote in November of 2018. "It is saddening and unacceptable that it took the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman to reopen public interest in the cases of the missing South Asian and Middle Eastern men. Families and friends of the respective men were not given the closure that they deserved in a timely manner. We strongly emphasize that racism and homophobia are systemic issues that affect every part of our society. A different standard of justice for racialized and LGBTQ+ people is the reality in our city and province."

Similarly, the Toronto Star's editorial board questioned the alleged inaction from the police in an op-ed.

“Why did it take so long to zero in on McArthur as a suspect?” the board asked last month. “Why did the police seemingly not take the concerns of the LGBTQ community more seriously? The Church-Wellesley community had long feared there was a serial killer in their midst and the police denied it. Would police have taken more and swifter action if McArthur’s victims had not been gay or people of color, homeless or addicted to drugs?”

Police disagreed with this interpretation of events. Meaghan Gray, a spokeswoman for Toronto Police, had said that over the years law enforcement had launched two investigations, Project Houston and Project Prism, “to do everything possible to locate the missing men."

“We will continue to do what we can to support the community and look for opportunities to improve our relationship,” Gray said in an email to The Washington Post.

The questions surrounding police bias around McArthur have led to the formation of an advisory board made up of activists, lawyers and former judges, who will conduct an independent investigation into how missing persons reports are handled, according to The Toronto Sun. The Toronto Police Department has also formed its first official missing persons unit and has pledged to re-examine all reports filed since 1990, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Each count of homicide McArthur has been convicted of carried with it an automatic life sentence, according to the BBC.

[Photo: Facebook]

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