A former Canadian landscaper turned serial killer who last month pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder, was apparently arrested just as he was getting ready to kill his ninth victim, prosecutors say.
The shocking revelation came to light during a sentencing hearing for 67-year-old Bruce McArthur, who targeted men from Toronto's Gay Village as his victims from 2010 to 2017.
Prosecutors explained that when officers raided the admitted killer’s home they found a man handcuffed to his bed, according to The Canadian Press. Chillingly, his computer contained folders with images of the eight men he ultimately confessed to killing.
There was a ninth folder, too. In it was information about the man, still alive, who had been found handcuffed.
"The ninth subfolder was entitled 'John' and appears to have contained photographs of the man who was found handcuffed to Mr. McArthur's bed," prosecutor Michael Cantlon said during the hearing. "A photograph of John on Mr. McArthur's bed was located on Mr. McArthur's computer."
Cantlon said the two met through an online dating app in 2017. Like many of McArthur’s victims, he is of Middle-Eastern descent. “John” is also married and his sexual orientation is not known to his family or friends, according to the prosecutor.
McArthur and "John" met several times since 2017 but on the day of his arrest, McArthur said he wanted to "try something different" before handcuffing the man and “retrieving a black bag from another room," Cantlon said, further describing how McArthur "took a black leather bag and placed it over John's head. There were no holes in the bag." McArthur didn’t listen to his requests to remove the bag, according to Cantlon.
“When John was able to get the bag off of his head, Mr. McArthur attempted to tape John's mouth shut," the prosecutor said, according to The Canadian Press.
Police last year found the remains of seven men in large planters at a midtown Toronto property where McArthur had worked and used as storage. The remains of the eighth victim were found in a ravine behind the same property.
The murders involved sexual assault or forcible confinement and the bodies were dismembered and hidden. Several of the victims were apparently strangled. The victims fit a pattern: most were of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent and lived on the margins of Canadian society, their disappearances attracting little attention.
McArthur moved to the Toronto area around 2000 and was married, raised two children and worked as a traveling salesman of underwear and socks. McArthur also at times dressed up as Santa to work at the mall during the holiday season, according to the Toronto Sun. He had a small landscaping business, but he periodically hired workers, including a 40-year-old man named Skandaraj Navaratnam who disappeared in 2010. He was eventually named as one of the eight murder victims.
After men started disappearing from the Gay Village area of Toronto, police set up a series of special task forces to look into the cases. The first, established in 2012, yielded no arrests, prompting criticism in the LGBTQ community that police had not done enough. When Andrew Kinsman, a 49-year-old LGBTQ activist and former bartender in Toronto went missing in 2017, authorities convened a second task force and were able to follow clues in the Kinsman case back to McArthur.
In all, McArthur was charged with the murders Kinsman, Navaratnam, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.
Victim impact statements are expected to be given Tuesday and the McArthur will be sentenced Wednesday. The judge needs to decide whether to give him to consecutive life sentences, or whether he can serve eight life sentences concurrently, according to the BBC.
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