A 66-year-old landscaper in Thorncliffe Park has been charged with murder in connection with the disappearance of two men from Toronto’s gay village area in 2017.
The arrest on Jan. 18 comes as a surprise to the community, as only a month ago Toronto police were playing down the possibility of a serial killer in the area.
Bruce McArthur, 66, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of missing men Selim Esen, 44, and Andrew Kinsman,49. And there may be more charges to come for McArthur.
“We believe he is responsible for the deaths of Mr. Kinsman and Mr. Esen,” Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga, who is heading up the investigation, told a press conference. “And we believe he is responsible for the deaths of other men who have yet to be identified.
“In other words, we believe there are other victims,” Idsinga said.
Esen, 44, was reported missing from Yonge and Bloor streets near his apartment building on April 14. Kinsman was reported missing from his home near Parliament and Winchester streets on June 26.
Police have been investigating their disappearances under the task force name of Project Prism since August 2017.
Members of the Church and Wellesley community have criticized police for not taking these and other disappearances in the area seriously.
Toronto police chief Mark Saunders and other officers held a press conference on Dec. 8 in which they said they took the disappearances seriously. But they would not link the cases of Esen and Kinsman to previous disappearances.
“There is also no conclusive evidence to establish that any of these males were the victims of foul play, although this can’t be ruled out,” Det. Sgt. Michael Richmond of 51 Division said. “There is no evidence that a serial killer is responsible for the disappearance of any of the missing males.”
McArthur was arrested at his home in the Thorncliffe Park area at about 10:25 a.m. on Jan. 18.
Police described him as a self-employed landscaper.
Police are searching five properties — four in Toronto and one in Madoc, Ont. — connected to McArthur, Det. Sgt. Idsinga said.
“We have not yet found the bodies,” he said in answer to reporters’ questions. “We’re actively looking for them. We’re conducting these search warrants in efforts to locate the bodies but at this point in time, no, we have not located them.”
Idsinga acknowledged the difficulties in prosecuting murder cases without the bodies, but he said police have convincing evidence of homicide in this case.
He said police have a “pretty good idea” of the cause of death but they are not ready to discuss it yet.
When asked what led police to McArthur Idsinga said, “The investigation was going on for many months leading up to this and some evidence was uncovered yesterday that pushed us over the edge and enabled us to develop our reasonable and probable grounds for the arrest of Mr. McArthur.”
McArthur is scheduled to appear in court at College Park on Jan. 19 at 10 a.m.
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