Investigators have found evidence of four possible murder victims in their investigation of Bruce McArthur — who has so far only been charged in the presumed deaths of two men who went missing from Toronto’s gay village last year — a police source told 680 NEWS.
The source said McArthur had been under surveillance, which led police to an auto wrecker where McArthur was trying to get his vehicle demolished.
Police reportedly seized the car and found DNA evidence inside. They then searched a home, where more evidence was found.
McArthur, a 66-year-old Toronto man, was arrested and charged Thursday as part of an investigation into the disappearance of Selim Esen, 44, and Andrew Kinsman, 49.
McArthur made a brief appearance in court Friday on two counts of first-degree murder and was returned to custody until Feb. 14, when he will appear in court by video link.
Bruce Mcarthur accused in Toronto Gay Village murders returns Feb 14 by video. He had defence council.
He is automatically detained on first degree murder and would have to apply to superior court to have a bail hearing.
— marianne boucher (@CityCourtsTO) January 19, 2018
Esen went missing near Yonge and Bloor streets on April 14, 2017. Kinsman was last seen near Parliament and Winchester streets on June 26, 2017. Their bodies have not been found.
The arrest came months after police issued public reassurances that there was no evidence the men were dead or the cases were connected.
On Thursday, police said new evidence surfaced this week that gave them a “definitive link,” but they did not elaborate further.
At a news conference on Friday, Kinsman’s sisters said they searched repeatedly for their brother after he disappeared last year.
Patricia Kinsman said she and Karen Coles were like second mothers to their brother and looked for him for six months, aided by his friends, co-workers and even strangers.
She said the last day they searched for their brother was on Dec. 9.
Both sisters said they don’t know and had never heard of McArthur.
The case has caused outrage in the gay community, with several people questioning the efforts made by police to find these missing men.
Alphonso King and John Allan knew Kinsman from his volunteer work with the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.
Outside the courthouse, King and Allan accused police of using the gay community as a photo opportunity and said they should have been focused on finding Esen and Kinsman last summer, not worried about if they were going to march in the Pride Parade.
King also noted it wasn’t until a white man went missing, Kinsman, that the investigation was taken seriously by police.
“It took him being missing for them to actually do something when, in actuality, there are several people of colour, like Middle Eastern men, who are missing and they sort of seemed to dismiss that,” he said.
“It took someone who was white to be the catalyst for them to actually get up and go do their jobs.”
Toronto police said they have worked with “community partners” to share as much information as possible about the case.
“The community has come forward with information, all of which was considered, analyzed and acted upon, if necessary,” said spokeswoman Meaghan Gray.
At the same time, she admitted police need to do more to improve their relationship with the city’s LGBTQ community.
“Our officers at 51 Division, our LGBTQ Liaison Officer and the Service’s Community Consultative Committee have all put considerable effort into creating trust and respect between the community and the Service,” Gray said.
“These efforts have included a number of initiatives but, at the end of the day, we know we have more work to do.”
Meanwhile, 680 NEWS has learned McArthur played the role of Santa Claus for the past few Christmas seasons at Agincourt Mall, near Sheppard Avenue East and Kennedy Road.
Management said it hired him through an event management company which provides entertainers for events in the GTA, and no customers or employees ever complained about him.
EXCLUSIVE – The man charged with two murders, Bruce McArthur played Santa at Agincourt Mall. The mall tells me he played that roll for several season and that "There were no reported incidents by customers or by store and Mall employees" pic.twitter.com/qQhVBVf9m5
— Richard Southern (@richard680news) January 19, 2018
Forensic officers were at a nine-acre property in Madoc searching for evidence in the case. A neighbour said a man, not McArthur, bought the home last summer.
Toronto Police forensics on scene of this home in Madoc, ON. Detective on scene confirms its part of Project Prism and the homicide investigation involving suspect Bruce McArthur @CityNews pic.twitter.com/q9Ylwx9uDh
— Amanda Ferguson (@CityNewsAmanda) January 19, 2018
With files from The Canadian Press