Toronto resident Bruce McArthur has been arrested in connection with five murders, according to The Washington Post. Police suspect he has killed more after discovering human remains in flower pots on a property where he worked.
Thirty other locations at which McArthur was employed as a landscaper have since been searched, with more than a dozen flower pots seized as evidence in the hopes of finding clues about who else, if anyone, may have been McArthur's victims.
“It’s a serial killer — alleged serial killer,” said Sgt. Hank Idsinga at a news conference on Monday. “He’s taken some steps to cover his tracks, and we have to uncover these victims ... We do believe there are more. I have no idea how many more there are going to be. . . . The city of Toronto has never seen anything like this, so it’s very tiring and draining for everyone involved.”
Those within Toronto's LGBTQ community had heard rumors of a serial killer targeting sexual minorities for years, but little police intervention on the matter was taken — McArthur's connections to the city's Gay Village is now sparking outrage.
“We are validated in our concerns, but there’s no joy to be had in that,” Nicki Ward, a community activist, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. this week. “Why weren’t we listened to earlier? Perhaps some lives could have been saved if that was the case.”
Police had launched an investigation into the cases of three missing Middle-Eastern men (Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40; Abdulbasir Faizi, 42; and Majeed Kayhan, 58) from Gay Village in November of 2012. The investigation turned up nothing after two years: “At the conclusion of the project, no evidence is found which would classify anyone as a suspect in any criminal offense related to the disappearances,” Idsinga said at the time.
Another investigation in search of information on two other missing men (Selim Esen, 44, and Andrew Kinsman, 49) traced common connections back to McArthur. Unconfirmed reports suggest that police eventually discovered blood in McArthur's vehicle, leading to his arrest.
DNA testing of the remains found in the planters have not been confirmed as of yet.
McArthur's prior criminal record includes a 2001 assault charge after he attacked a man with a pipe. He avoided jail time by promising to stay away from male prostitutes in Gay Village.
“It certainly encompasses more than the gay community,” Idsinga told reporters. “It encompasses the city of Toronto.”
A Vice report on McArthur suggests that before his social media was deactivated, the landscaper was "friends" with Navaratnam on Facebook.
McArthur is set to make a court appearance and input a plea on February 14th.
Toronto Mayor John Tory claimed that the arrest of McArthur should “bring comfort to people who are very worried about this whole series of events, across the city, and in particular in the LGBTQ community."