Review into missing persons investigations will now include McArthur cases

By Mark Douglas and Dilshad Burman

The independent review into how Toronto police handled missing persons cases will now include the Bruce McArthur investigation.

The review, lead by retired Ontario justice Gloria Epstein, was restricted while McArthur was still under investigation for the murders of men from Toronto’s gay village. Those cases could not be fully examined for fear that such a review could compromise the police investigation or any legal case.

Now that McArthur is a convicted serial killer and behind bars, those restrictions are no longer needed and the Police Services Board voted unanimously in favour of expanding the independent review on Tuesday.

Police board chair Andy Pringle wrote in his presentation that “it is time to expand the review’s mandate so that it can independently assess and make recommendations about the very cases that motivated its launch in the first place.”

Lead council for the review Mark Sandler says with this new expansion of scope, the review can now freely examine the McArthur documents.

“We had some ability to look at the investigations, but now we can truly get to the bottom of those investigations because we are unrestricted in our review,” he told 680 NEWS.

Toronto police came under fire from the LGBTQ community last year for failing to take the disappearances of the men missing from Toronto’s gay village seriously for years — until January, when they arrested and charged McArthur.

Haran Vijayanathan from the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention says the expansion is welcome news.

“Initially in 2018 when we called [police] out, we actually said racism, homophobia, classism was a part of why the first three men went missing,” he says.

Vijayanathan referenced the review’s Terms of Reference which state it was established to examine policies and procedures in relation to missing person investigations, “particularly those involving individuals from the LGBTQ2S+, immigrant, homeless and other marginalized communities,” adding that this was now possible.

The original budget for the review allocated by the City of Toronto was $3 million. Epsiein says she will have an estimate of how much more it will now cost in about six months.

The final report of the independent review was initially expected in April 2020, but will now take till the end of January 2021.

Related stories:

Bruce McArthur guilty plea sparks call to widen missing persons review

Activists, lawyers named to Toronto missing persons advisory panel

Judge named to lead review of Toronto police handling of missing person cases

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