Local residents upset with media attention in the community
Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur was reportedly a regular at a bar and grill on Bayview Avenue, a 10-minute walk north from the south Leaside property where police have recovered human remains.
McArthur was sometimes seen there with one of the alleged victims, the bar’s night manager Sean Leonard claims in an interview on Feb. 3.
McArthur was charged in January with first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of five men, mainly from the gay village area. Police recovered human remains of three individuals at 53 Mallory Cres., home of Leaside’s Fraser family.
Streeter has not independently confirmed Leonard’s reported sightings. A reporter approached the bar because it seemed possible that if landscaper McArthur spent time working in Leaside he would take breaks at eateries on the Bayview commercial strip.
When the reporter approached staff during the day, he was asked to come back later to talk to night manager Leonard who was said to know about McArthurs’s appearances there.
McArthur’s apartment, where the police arrested him Jan. 18, is located at 95 Thorncliffe Park Dr. in the Thorncliffe highrise community east of Leaside. At the time of the arrest, police found a man tied to a bed in the apartment.
The human remains on Mallory Crescent were found at the bottom of large flower planters in the back yard. Police have since started excavating the property in search of more bodies, along with several other properties in Toronto where McArthur worked as a landscaper.
Some other property owners have also patronized the bar, said Leonard, who has lived in Leaside since 1980 and has worked at the establishment for 26 years.
“I know we have a lot of customers that have had him do their landscaping, so obviously there’s a lot of people who are worried,” he told Streeter. “If this gentleman ever did work on your property, he could have put something on their property.”
That’s been the focus of a lot of conversations heard at the tavern, but Leonard shrugged off any concerns of the media being overbearing in the neighbourhood.
What has been under scrutiny by patrons bending bartenders’ ears has been whether or not the police investigated properly. If McArthur had long been under surveillance, was there enough due diligence? Leonard said the answers vary among patrons.
Annoyed with media
Other Leasiders, however, have had a tough time dealing with the media’s presence on Mallory.
Nancy Lee Martin, just up the street in a small apartment building at 69 Mallory Cres., has been watching the “circus” evolve on the street with daily visits from CP24 and other broadcast outlets on the roadway.
Martin first ran into the media when she came home on Jan. 26 and saw Global News on the road. Since then the media has been unrelenting, she said.
“You cannot leave your building without them coming up to you asking, ‘How do you feel?’ I refuse to speak with them and say, ‘No thank you’,” she said. “How do you think we feel?”
The harassment has reached the point where the superintendent of the building posted a sign stating the media is not allowed on the property.
“They were coming in with their big trucks just so they could get a view of the backyard,” Martin said. “They just keep haranguing on people. Go back to your station and just use B-roll.”
Martin, a journalism graduate in the 1980s, said the coverage is overkill.
She added she feels for the families on the street.
“We have police tape all over the trees and the park. That’s enough for us. We don’t need the media as well,” she said. “What’s being lost is the gravity of the situation. I don’t hear them telling the stories of the men that have gone missing.”
The quiet community of south Leaside has been rocked by the police and media attention.
But, for some, the annoyance is undercut by the reality of an alleged serial killer having been at work in the area.
“I guess it’s like anything, you never know,” Leonard said. “People like this could be amongst you and you will never know.”
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