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Forensic scientist: Unearthing body parts in murder investigation is 'controlled destruction'

Last Updated Jan 31, 2018 at 10:04 pm EDT

Toronto police say they are continuing to search properties across the city linked to a self-employed landscaper who is facing five counts of first-degree murder.

Bruce McArthur, 66, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the presumed deaths of Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, and Dean Lisowick.

Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga says investigators are now searching the basement of the Leaside property where Bruce McArthur was known to have worked. CityNews can confirm the jugs of fuel being brought to the rear of the property in recent days have largely been for use in heaters which are being used to thaw the frozen ground.

“They’re going to be using that fuel to heat the ground in order to make it excavatable,” said Dr. Scott Fairgrieve, a forensic anthropologist at Laurentian University who has worked on several large homicide cases.

“Digging in frozen soil, it’s very much like concrete, you’ve got to thaw it out in order to be effective, because you could destroy evidence if you’re not doing it properly … this is going to take considerable time,” he said. “It is a form of archaeology, if you will. It’s controlled destruction.”

Dr. Fairgrieve adds that once body parts are recovered, forensics will try and create human biographies as they piece fragmented remains together and link them to one individual — similar to the process following a fatal plane crash.

“We have to do an inventory of what bones are present and then they’re going to be doing an analysis in order to determine the age of death of the individual from the skeletal remains and the sex of the individual,” he said.

Homicide detectives confirmed that police have received dozens of calls from the public. They say some tips have come in from people who used to live in Toronto and some from men in other countries who met McArthur while visiting Toronto.

Investigators say the work at the Leaside property will continue for several weeks. They’re also still working at McArthur’s apartment and at 30 other properties across the city.