WARNING: The following story and live blog contains disturbing details. Discretion is advised.
The court heard graphic details of the gruesome killings of eight men connected to the city’s gay village, as the sentencing hearing began Monday for serial killer Bruce McArthur.
Over the next three days, the court will first hear more details on the murders followed by the victim impact statements. Last week, McArthur pleaded guilty to all eight counts of first-degree murder.
Reporters Adrian Ghobrial and Momin Qureshi are at the hearing. Follow along with their updates below.
Body parts of all eight men were found at a home on Mallory Crescent, where McArthur worked as a landscaper. The body parts were found in planters in the back of the property, as well as in a compost pile located near a ravine.
The Crown said McArthur’s actions were “planned and deliberate” and often focused on people who had traits of victimization, such as lacking stable housing, which made their whereabouts hard to detect. They said McArthur sought out these types of men and exploited their situation.
Most of the killings were facilitated on the pretext of sex, committed in his bedroom and included “post-offence rituals” such as photography, staging the bodies and keeping items.
In many cases, the men were staged in a fur coat, a fur lined hat and with a cigar in their mouth. All of the men were shaved and bags of hair were found in a shed on a property near Mt. Pleasant Cemetary.
Police arrested McArthur a year ago and eventually charged him in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.
McArthur looked up from the ground as he was walked into the courtroom in handcuffs, wearing the same black sweater over a plaid button down shirt and jeans he’s worn every day since the trial began.
As the sentencing hearing started, Crown Lawyer Michael Cantlon warned everyone in the courtroom that they will hear disturbing details that may impact their health, and to “think carefully about your need to be here.”
A statement of facts released last week showed that six of the eight killings were sexual in nature. McArthur had admitted to sexually assaulting and forcibly confining many of his victims before murdering them.
The agreed statement of facts revealed on Monday detailed McArthur’s premeditated plans to murder each man — starting in September 2010 with the death of Navaratnam and ending in 2017 with Kinsman.
Documents seized from McArthur’s home would include a USB stick with nine sub folders containing pictures of his victims. The folders were labeled Skanda, Bazir, Hamid, Number 4, Number 5, Slider, Turkish Guy, Andy and John.
McArthur had tried to delete these images but police were able to recover them.
Showing no emotion, McArthur looked forward as the list of exhibits to be shown was read. The exhibits included security camera video, photos of the murder weapon, McArthur’s van and items used during the staging of the victims’ bodies.
The Crown began with a detailed look at the events leading up to Kinsman’s death and the steps police took to capture McArthur.
The court heard how on June 26, 2017, Kinsman, who was the superintendent of the building he lived in, sent out an email to tenants around 3 p.m. requesting a reply but was never heard from again. A tenant reported him missing three days later after noticing no chores around the building had been done and his cat was left unattended and unfed.
When police searched Kinsman’s apartment, they found a calendar with the name “Bruce” written on the date of the 26th. Security footage presented to the court showed Kinsman leaving his apartment at 3:06 p.m. on the 26th and getting into a red van, later identified as McArthur’s 2004 red Dodge Caravan.
Documents seized from McArthur’s computer, and other digital devices — months later — had over 100 images of Kinsman, including ones of him in an apartment and outside in nature. Some of the photos dated back to 2007. However, 18 of those photos were of Kinsman dead, staged in two different poses.
Some of the photographs depicted him lying on top of a fur coat, naked, with pillows and blankets under him. In those photos, a rope is tied around his neck and a metal bar is attached to the rope. Police said the metal bar was used to tighten the rope.
Another series of photos show Kinsman in a different position. The murder weapon had been removed but ligature marks can be seen on his neck and around his wrist.
Several victim impact statements were submitted by family and friends of Kinsman.
One of his sisters Karen spoke in court today and said she missed him very much. “Since Andrew’s death, I’ve found it difficult to sleep…I lie awake and think about how he was dismembered and killed.”
Patricia Kinsman, another one of his sisters, starts reading her victim impact statement by saying “never in my wildest dreams did I envision his life ending in this way.”
She said she “pretends to be happy,” and added “I can’t describe the smell when his body bag was opened.”
Kinsman’s brother Steven’s victim impact statement was read by his sister which said he has been having nightmares since finding out Kinsman was murdered.
“I have nightmares that I’m in a room with Andrew and Bruce McArthur. Andrew’s tied to the bed and McArthur’s attacking him. I’d wake up sweating thinking, ‘no, no, no I couldn’t save him’,” he read.
Craig Dunn, Kinsman’s friend, also spoke at the hearing.
“I will never forget that day. My life has been truly fractured. My life, soul and spirit have been fractured,” Dunn said. “I think of Andrew everyday when I wake up. People say time will heal, but it won’t heal. You have to learn to live with it.”
A neighbour of Kinsman said a few months before he was murdered, he had beat cancer for a second time. She said he “recovered thanks to sheer force of will.”
Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam
Navaratnam, who worked as a professor’s aid at the University of Toronto, was killed on or about Sept. 6, 2010. The court heard that the relationship between Navaratnam and McArthur began in the 2000s. His remains were found in the backyard of the home on Mallory Crescent.
Police found 31 photos of Skanda, as well as a photo of a missing person’s poster with the two other missing men, on digital devices belonging to McArthur. Several photos were found of Skanda alive, including one of him sitting on a park bench with two dogs. During the search of McArthur’s bedroom, police found a bracelet with the name “Skanda” engraved on it. Nine days before murdering Esen, McArthur emailed himself a picture of Skanda.
Police did not find any pictures of Faizi on any of McArthur’s digital devices. However, a USB key had nine sub folders and one was titled Basir. The missing person’s poster found in McArthur’s possession also had Faizi’s picture on it.
Kayhan, who was reported missing by his son, was murdered on or about Oct. 18, 2012.
McArthur was interviewed on Nov. 11 of that year as part of Project Houston, a police operation investigating the disappearance of Navaratnam, Faizi and Kayhan. McArthur admitted to knowing Kayhan since 2003, saying he’d employed him doing landscaping and that they had had a sexual relationship, which McArthur broke off.
At the time of the interview, McArthur wasn’t considered a suspect but was treated as a witness in a missing person’s case.
Detectives found 44 pictures of Kayhan on McArthur’s devices, some of them with his eyes closed and wearing a fur hat, and what appeared to be a fur coat with a cigar in his mouth.
On July 4, 2018, police found a blue plastic garbage bin, which was buried behind the Mallory property. Inside the bin was soil and individually wrapped garbage bags containing portions of some of the victims. Under this garbage bin was another garbage bag containing a skull. A rib cage and pelvis were later found under the soil. They also found a buried femur with what appeared to be saw marks. Twenty-nine human bones were found in the area, and some of these remains belonged to Kayhan.
Mahmudi, who was reported missing by his wife, was murdered on or about Aug. 15, 2015.
Photographs of him in McArthur’s file showed him lying in a bed with his eyes taped open, a white rope around his neck and a cigar in his lips. He was wearing a fur coat. That coat was later found in a hidden compartment in McArthur’s van.
The rope was similar to the ones used in the Kinsman and Lisowick murders. Mahmudi was also posed with a fur lined hat with a small cigar in his mouth.
When police searched his home, white rope was found in McArthur’s bedroom. During an interview, McArthur admitted to having white rope and “kink gear.”
In several photos of the victims, parts of McArthur’s bedroom can be seen. A digital imprint showed the photos were taken on Aug. 16.
Following his death, Mahmudi’s body was dismembered in two parts and put into two pots.
Before his murder, Kanagaratnam had worked as a cleaner in Scarborough but struggled to make ends meet. He was scheduled to be deported in 2015 but never was. When he disappeared, his family hadn’t reported him missing — likely because they assumed he was in hiding to avoid deportation.
Police found five photographs of him in McArthur’s files. Some of the photos, which were taken on Jan. 9, 2016, show Kanagaratnam lying with his eyes closed on McArthur’s bed. He was naked and incapacitated with his head resting on a black garbage bag or tarp.
Police were initially unable to identify him and released photos to the public asking for help.
His remains were found in a single plant pot wrapped in a plastic bag. McArthur shaved the hair on Kanagaratnam’s head after he murdered him.
Lisowick was killed on or about April 23, 2016 and was never reported missing. He had previously lived in the Jane Street and Weston Road area with his grandmother but after she passed away he became homeless and was known to use the city’s shelter system.
Police found numerous photos of him in McArthur’s possession. In one, Lisowick was lying on his back unconscious, naked, wearing a brown fur coat with a white rope and a beaded necklace around his neck.
Several items that belonged to Lisowick were seized after McArthur’s arrest, including a silver ring and a beaded necklace.
Most of his dismembered body parts were found in a planter pot at the Mallory home.
Police found that McArthur had looked at the photos of Lisowick eight months after the murder.
Lisowick’s daughter’s victim impact statement was read to the court by the Crown Attorney on Monday.
She said she never knew her dad, but always hoped they someday they would meet, and possibly have a relationship, but now that will never happen. She said she currently has a baby on the way, and “one day, they will ask about their grandfather and she will have to tell them.”
In the days before he went missing, Esen was struggling for money. He had texted a friend asking for help just before April 16th, 2017 but when the friend finally texted him back, Esen was already dead.
After his arrest, McArthur was shown a photo of Esen. He told police he didn’t know him but that he looked similar to a man he’d briefly picked up in 2017. McArthur said he’d picked up the man around midnight in the Church and Wellesley area. He said the man looked homeless and was asking for $40. McArthur said he took the man back to his apartment, they’d had sex and then a short time later he left on his own.
Photographs found in a folder on a USB key titled “Turkish Guy” showed Esen unconscious, posed in a variety of positions and wearing different clothing. In some photos he was shirtless, while in others he was wearing a checkered shirt with a blanket covering his lower body. There is no sign of trauma to his body at the time. In other photos he is naked, bound and there are ligature marks on his neck. Esen’s body is also staged with a fur coat. In further photos, Esen’s beard had been shaved off. In a photo taken in a vehicle, a hacksaw can be seen.
McArthur’s file also showed that he has saved news articles about Project Prism – which focused on the disappearance of Esen and Kinsman.
Esen’s body was found dismembered and placed in two planters on the Mallory property.
When police arrested McArthur, they found a man handcuffed to a bed, with duct tape over his mouth. This man was only identified as “John.”
McArthur and John had met on several occasions and on Jan. 18, 2017 they agreed to meet up again. John later told police McArthur had asked him if anyone knew he was coming to see him.
When they got to the apartment, McArthur told John to go to the bedroom and that they should “hurry up” because someone was coming home soon.
John said he did what he was told and when McArthur entered the room he had handcuffs and said he wanted to try something new. He handcuffed John to the bed and left again. When he returned he put a plastic bag over John’s head. John asked McArthur to remove the bag but he said no. When John was able to get the bag off his head, McArthur duct taped his mouth shut.
During this time, police had McArthur under surveillance. When they realized McArthur had invited John up to his apartment, they entered the building and arrested McArthur when he opened the door. John was found naked, handcuffed to the bed.