Serial killer Bruce McArthur staged photos of some of his victims after they died, posing at least two corpses with cigars in their mouths, a prosecutor said Monday as the sentencing hearing began for the former gardener who preyed on men from Toronto’s Gay Village district.
Prosecutor Michael Cantlon didn’t display the images found on McArthur’s electronic devices during the session, but said they included post-mortem photos of six of the eight victims.
“Victims were posed naked, with cigars in their mouth, shaved, and/or made to wear a fur coat and hat,” Cantlon said.
He also said police found a bound and naked man when they raided McArthur’s home and arrested him on Jan. 18, 2018. He said police moved in when they realized he had someone over. The man, who survived, was only identified as “John.”
Investigators found McArthur had a USB drive that contained a directory with nine subfolders, Cantlon said, eight for the men he killed and the ninth for the man found at the time of McArthur’s arrest.
McArthur pleaded guilty on Jan. 29 to eight counts of first-degree murder. He sexually assaulted, killed and dismembered men he met in Toronto’s Gay Village district over seven years. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison with no chance for parole for 25 years or more.
Police narrowed a list of suspects for missing men from Toronto’s Gay Village after seeing surveillance video of the last victim, Andrew Kinsman, enter a red Dodge Caravan in 2017. They later linked that vehicle to McArthur and found Kinsman’s blood and semen in it.
Photos in McArthur’s devices showed he had known Kinsman for years.
Cantlon has said the cases ranging from 2010 to 2017 involved sexual assault or forcible confinement and said the bodies were hidden and dismembered. Several of the victims were strangled.
McArthur, now 67, moved to the Toronto area around 2000 and previously lived in a suburb where he was married, raised two children and worked as a traveling salesman of underwear and socks.
His landscaping business was small, but he periodically hired workers, including a 40-year-old man who disappeared in 2010.
The victims fit a pattern: Most were of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent and lived on the margins of Canadian society. Their disappearances attracting little attention.
“Many of the victims had ties to Toronto’s LGBT village and had a social life within that community. Many met or corresponded with Mr. McArthur through dating apps,” Cantlon said. “Some were forced to live parts of their life in secret because of their orientation. Some lacked stable housing.”
“There is evidence that Mr. McArthur sought out and exploited these vulnerabilities to continue his crimes undetected,” he said.
One victim hid the fact that he was gay from his Muslim family. Another was a recent immigrant with a drug problem. Another alleged victim was homeless, smoked crack cocaine and worked as a prostitute.
But then Kinsman vanished. The 49-year-old LGBQT activist and former bartender in Toronto had many friends. When he suddenly went missing the day after Toronto’s gay pride parade, his friends noticed quickly, and so did the police, who set up a task force to look into disappearances in the Gay Village.
McArthur pleaded guilty to killing Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.
Cantlon said most of the killings were facilitated under the pretense of sex. He said McArthur repeatedly strangled his victims with rope.
The prosecutor said McArthur kept items belonging to the victims.
“For years, members of the LGBT community in Toronto believed they were being targeted by a killer,” Cantlon said. “They were right.”