Bruce attended Fenelon Falls Secondary School and there he became the boyfriend of Janice Campbell, their relationship was successful and when he was 23, they got married after graduating in 1970. The couple had two children, Melanie and Todd and bought a home on Cartref Avenue in Oshawa.
Bruce McArthur: In the closet homosexual
They seemed like a happy couple but Bruce was keeping himself extra busy with work and the church so he wouldn’t have to deal with his homosexual desires.
In the early 1990’s, Bruce couldn’t fight himself anymore and started having sexual affairs with various men. He would come out of the closet to his wife a year later. They decided to continue living together.
In the year 1993, Bruce’s job as a traveling salesman stopped being successful and the family started to struggle financially. In part due to legal issues connected to their then-teenaged son, Todd, who was obsessively making obscene phone calls to women he did not know.
Bruce and Janice mortgaged their house in 1997 and separated in 1998.
Bruce moved to Toronto, looking to find a gay community. He would start a whole new life as an out gay man there.
In Toronto, Bruce opened a landscaping company named ¨Artistic Design¨ that gave him enough business to have a good living. He was also exploring his new sexual life by frequenting Toronto’s gay district, the Church and Wellesley neighborhood ¨the gay village¨; He even had a part time job as a mall Santa. He was white, had white hair, a big belly, and he also seemed so so goody. Bruce also started dating a man and their relationship would last a few years but they eventually broke up. This left Bruce super depressed. His psychiatrist prescribed Prozac
Bruce attacks Mark Henderson
On October 31, 2001, Bruce would prove he wasn’t the nice guy everybody believed when he assaulted actor and model Mark Henderson. They were supposed to meet at Mark Henderson’s apartment to see his Halloween costume, but Bruce went crazy and started striking Mark with a metal pipe from behind. The victim was strong enough to fight back and call 911. Bruce was charged with assault and was lucky to avoid incarceration, instead he got house arrest and was banned from the gay village for three years. A psychological report on McArthur prepared for his sentencing in 2003 concluded that the risk that he would go on to commit more violent acts was “very minimal.”
In 2002, Bruce McArthur signed up on several dating websites, he was on Recon, a gay fetish dating website for men into BDSM, where his profile noted his interest in submissive men. He was active on numerous gay dating apps and websites, including Silverdaddies, Manjam, Grindr, Bear411, BearForest, Scruff, DaddyHunt, Squirt and Growlr.
Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam
Skanda, as he was known to his friends, was a refugee from Sri Lanka who moev to Canada in the early 90’s. He attended the University of Toronto and worked as a teaching assistant in the Ryerson University. During the summer of 2010, Skanda got himself a puppy dog, he loved him! He was sharing pictures of him and his dog all over social media. So it was weird when one day he just left the dog behind and disappeared in September 2010. He was reported missing on September 16. He was last seen on September 6 leaving a nightclub called ¨Zippers¨ located in the gay village with two men. At the beginning his family thought maybe he was hiding due to his inmigration status but it just didn’t make any sense. Why would he leave everything behind and no tell anybody? Police took his laptop to see if they could find anything there to help them find him but truth is, they never looked until two years later. They just moved on.
Abdulbasir “Basir” Faizi
Abdulbasir was from Afganistan and moved to Canada in 1999. He worked as a machine operator. He was married and had two children. No, nobody knew Abdulbasir was gay he was living a double life. On December 29, 2010, he told his wife he was going to meet a friend but never made it back home. He was last seen at a bathhouse in the Village, a gay area. He was reported missing by his wife but police failed to find him. This investigation was in charge of a different police department that the one handling Skanda Nvaratnam’s case. One of the investigators thought maybe they could be related but soon went ¨Naah¨. And Abdulbasir’s case went cold.
On October 25, 2012, Majeed Kayhan was reported missing by his son. He was a 58-year-old immigrant from Afganistan. He had an ex- wife and kids and he had moved to the gay part of town but still he found it difficult to come out as gay. Majeed was last seen on October 14 by his son. Majeed had birds and every time he was going to be out of town even for one day, he’d call a friend to help him taking care of them. When they finally got into his apartment after days of his disappearance, the birds were dead. Not something Majeed would ever let happen.
After his disappearance, Toronto Police set up a task force called Project Houston. It wasn’t really created because they wanted to solve the three cases so bad or because they had even linked them at that time. No. It was set up because the Swiss police had contacted them and given them a tip that there was a global organization of cannibals based in Toronto. They were all connecting with each other through a website called Zambian Meat. The Swiss police was investigating one of its members named James Alex Brunton and they believed he had killed Skandaraj Navaratnam. Soon enough they found out James was indeed a disgusting human being involved with child pornography and cannibalistic desires. In fact, at the time police got him, he had just made a 15-year-old boy sign a contract accepting being a sexual slave, being tortured and then eaten. Yes, these things happen in our world. Horrible, yes but he wasn’t related to any of the disappearances. What they also found out finally was that the cases of Skanda, Abdulbazie and Majeed were related.
An anonymous tip linking McArthur to Navaratnam and Kayhan led police to interview him in Novemeber 2013. Bruce told police that he knew both men and regularly interacted with Navaratnam at a gay bar, but denied being in a relationship with him. He also admitted to employing Kayhan, and he eventually became a sexual partner but nothing else. Apparently Bruce’s testimony was very convincing because police chief didn’t ask for a search warrant or looked at his criminal record, his past almost killing Mark Henderson with an iron pipe; they just took his word for truth. Shortly after, Project Houston was dismissed. What happened to the three disappeared men? A question for some other day.
Two months later Bruce McArthur had his record suspended. So no one would know he was ever arrested. Criminal record gone.
In August 2015, Soroush Mahmudi disappeared. He was a 49-year-old refugee from Iran. Soroush was married and had a step son. They day he disappeared he left for work just like any other day, the difference was this time he took his travel bag with him as if he knew he would be out for a few days. He wasn’t seen anywhere near the Village so police didn’t relate his disappearance to the previous three missing-persons cases.
In June 2016, Bruce McArthur went to the police station after a man reported him for almost choking him to death while having sex in the back of his van; Bruce just wanted to explain that everything was a misunderstanding. Yes, he thought the other man liked it rough so he choked him for a few seconds but then he became the attacker and started choking poor Bruce until he stopped. Once again, Bruce walked free. Police decided to believe him over the other guy who barely made it out of Bruce’s van alive.
In April 2017, Selim Essen was reported missing by his ex-husband. He was 44 and came from Turkey to Canada in 2013. Even when he tried to settle into his life in Toronto’s LGBT-friendly neighborhood, it wasn’t easy. This made Selim divorce his husband and start abusing substances. He was doing better around the time of his disappearance though. When ¨investigating¨, police didn’t link him to the Project Houston cases or any other case
Kanagaratnam, 37, came from war-torn Sri Lanka to Canada seeking asylum and a better life in 2010. Because he didn’t have refugee status, he’d been living underground and soon became a homeless person. When his acquantainces stopped seeing him they thought he was hiding because of his immigration status.
Dean Lisowick, different from the other victims, was never reported missing. Since he had become a sex worker and sometimes lived in the street as a homeless after losing his job as a bartender. He struggled with drugs and mental health problems.
Andrew Kinsman was 49 years old when Bruce McArthur crossed his path for worse. He was very well known and popular in the Gay Village community. He was described as “a gentle giant,” because he was a big, well-connected presence in the community. One day after attending Pride Toronto, on June 26, 2017, Andrew went missing. After a couple of days of not having him around, a couple of his friends got into his apartment and found Andrew Kinsman’s cat hungry and thirsty, he had no food or water. Not something Andrew would do. This was a huge red flag, they reported him missing the next day.
Police Investigation – Project Prism
After Andrew Kinsman was reported missing, investigators immediately went to his apartment to search it and they found Andrew Kinsman’s calendar with a name written on it for June 26, it said: Bruce – 3:00pm¨. They also looked at CCTV from the area. Andrew had been captured in the surveillance footage that afternoon getting on a red Dodge Caravan. The image wasn’t good enough to see the plate but this didn’t really matter since the car was a particular model. It was a 2004 20th anniversary edition of that particular model and when looking at who owned that type of car in Toronto, the search revealed one result: Bruce McArthur.
Somehow, a connection between Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen was made and the Toronto Police Service set up another task force called Project Prism. They were also going to take over the cases Project Houston couldn’t solve. They haven’t been able to make a connection between the five disappearances up to that point though so there was no suspicion of a serial killer. Soroush Mahmudi case wasn’t even being taken into consideration for Project Prism since he didn’t disappear near the village.
When investigators took a look at Project Houston’s files they found out Bruce had been interviwed years before and that he was linked to two of the three men who disappeared fist. They also learned about the choking incident and they started creating a possible different picture of Bruce. One where he wasn’t all smiles and love like the mall Santa he sometimes worked as.
For some reason, police investigators still believed they may have the wrong guy so instead of confronting him they set up a surveillance team to follow him. Bruce McArthur was monitored all the time as he went out from his apartment at 95 Thorncliffe Park Drive. They collected his DNA too and eventually got a warrant to seize his van. Unfortunately for them, Bruce had gotten rid of the car already. They continued looking for him and on October 3, 2017, were able to find it Dom’s Auto Parts in Courtice, Ontario. Inside the car they discovered four different men’s DNA samples. One was Bruce’s, one was Andrew’s and the other two were unknown. This finally gave police the chance to get a search warrant for his apartment and digital devices.
On December 4, Police searched his place and cloned his computer hard drive. When looking into his files they found hundreds of pictures of different men. There were like a hundred pictures of Andrew Kinsman but it seemed like he didn’t know he was being photographed. Yes, creepy. But as creepy as they were, this pictures showed all the men alive. Same with the surveillance video of Andrew’s day of dissapearance. It would take police over a month to recover deleted files. When they did on January 17, 2018, they found even worse material. Bruce McArthur had pictures of both Andrew and Selim on his bed, naked and with a rope around their necks. They looked diseased.
Forensic investigators team called the one doing 24-hour-surveillance on Bruce and told them he should be immediately arrested if observed “alone with anyone”. Not much longer after that, on January 18, Bruce was seen getting into his apartment with a young man. They proceeded to bust Bruce’s door and get into his apartment. They found the young man on Bruce’s bed, naked, tied up and with a plastic bag over his head. Beside him was giant naked Bruce with a plastic bag over his head himself sealed with duct tape. Killer McArthur was literally about to murder someone else.
Bruce McArthur was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He denied everything and was kept in custody. Police still needed to check the Leaside property he used to store his landscaping business equipment. When they arrived there with cadaver dogs, these immediately pointed to five large pots in the garden. Parts of seven different men were found inside the pots. On the property they would find more human remains like bones, skulls, pelvises, etc. The skeletal remains found belonged to Skanda Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam and Dean Lisowick.
In Bruce McArthur’s apartment, the Toronto Police service found a USB stick, and inside it had 9 different folders. Each one of them had the name of a different victim and their pictures, except for a couple that were named with numbers, probably because Bruce didn’t know his victim’s names. Folder number 9 was meant to be for the young man he was going to kill on the day of his arrest, Bruce’s ninth victim. In the apartment they also found journals where Bruce wrote about his killings and how he was getting rid of the bodies though his landscaping company. Throwing little pieces here and there in every whole he dag. Bruce McArthur was a serial killer.
On April 16, 2018, Bruce McArthur was charged with 8 count of First-degree murder. Prosecution demanded life in prison.
Bruce McArthur’s Trial
During the trial it wasn’t discussed if he was guilty or not really. They had the pictures, the dismembered remains found in the Leaside home, the ninth victim’s testimony. What had all psychologists intrigued was how weird it was for a serial killer to start his murders at such an old age. The ¨normal¨ thing is for them to start when they are around 28 years old so what happened to Bruce?
In January 2019, Thomas Donald Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to all 8 counts and he was sentenced to 8 concurrent life sentences without the possibility of parole until he’s 91. He hopefully will spend his whole life in prison.
A Little Bit of Controversy
After Bruce McArthur’s horrible doings were of public knowledge, people started accusing police for not looking deeper into the first disappearances, they accused them of racism. It was too weird why police didn’t bother investigating the disappearances and possible deaths of a group of immigrants but as soon as a ¨white¨ Canadian guy goes missing they actually start doing something.
Aside from possible racism, the LGTB+ community also suspects police didn’t follow through with the cases because it was about gay people.
Mark Saunders who was chief police at the time of the events was hardly judge by the public eye for not doing anything to stop Bruce McArthur before.