Bruce McArthur pleads guilty to 8 counts of murder

WARNING: Some of the details below may be disturbing to readers

TORONTO -- Bruce McArthur has admitted to killing eight men with links to Toronto's LGBTQ community who disappeared between 2010 and 2017.

McArthur pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.

The bodies of the eight men were dismembered, and the remains were later found at a midtown Toronto home where McArthur worked as a landscaper. In many cases, body parts had been buried in planters.

Wearing a black sweater over a plaid shirt, McArthur appeared stoic for much of the proceeding. When asked repeatedly by Justice John McMahon if he understood the consequences of pleading guilty to murder, McArthur quickly and clearly responded in the affirmative.

Tuesday’s hearing also provided the most significant glimpse yet of what police found as their investigations led them to McArthur, with the release of a brief statement of facts about the case.

According to the statement of facts, a police search of McArthur’s bedroom turned up a duffel bag containing duct tape, rope, zip ties, a black bungee cord, a surgical glove and syringes. A notebook belonging to Esen was found in his apartment as well.

Court heard that McArthur kept jewelry belonging to some of his victims and that there is evidence suggesting McArthur “staged” five of his victims after killing them. When asked, police declined to elaborate on what this meant.

All but the first two of the murders to which McArthur has pleaded guilty were described in the statement as being “sexual in nature.” Five involved ligatures.

McArthur’s voice seemed to quaver when he was asked if the facts in the statement were true, as he quietly responded “Yes, your honour.”

One of the largest courtrooms in Toronto was packed with friends and relatives of McArthur’s victims as the 67-year-old entered his guilty pleas.

Also present was Karen Fraser, the owner of the property where the remains of McArthur’s victims were found.

Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, she said McArthur had been her landscaper for more than a decade prior to his arrest, and was generally amiable.

Asked if she recognized remorse in McArthur’s expression as he pleaded guilty, Fraser said she just saw a “blank face.”

Det. David Dickinson of Toronto police told reporters the investigation is not considered to be closed, and police will “continue to look at any possible connections that anyone may have had to Bruce McArthur.”

Dickinson said he hoped the guilty pleas would provide some answers to the families of McArthur’s victims, although he seemed to suggest police remain unaware of his exact motive.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever know why, and I’m not going to comment any further on that right now,” he said.

A first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison, with no ability to apply for parole for 25 years. The only matter left up to McMahon’s discretion is whether McArthur’s sentences will be served concurrently or consecutively, in which case he would not be able to seek parole for 200 years.

 

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