Toronto murders: police examine hundreds of cases for serial killer link

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Police in Canada’s largest city have said they will re-examine hundreds of missing persons cases after recovering the remains of at least six people from a property connected to alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.

Bruce McArthur.


Bruce McArthur. Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters

The remains were found in large flower planters at a residential property in Toronto where McArthur, 66, worked and stored his landscaping equipment. As the investigation widens, detectives have already visited at least 30 other properties in the city where McArthur was known to have worked.

“It is getting bigger and we are getting more resources as we go along, so it is going to be a very, very extensive investigation,” said DS Hank Idsinga.

Toronto is reeling from allegations that Bruce McArthur systematically targeted men in the city’s gay community. For years, members of the community urged police to look more closely at a string of disappearances – fearing there was a connection between the missing men.

Using ground-penetrating radar, police have also discovered areas of interest on the property and are hoping to excavate a section of the backyard in the coming days.

Due to an extended cold snap, police been forced to use a heater for the last week, hoping to thaw the frozen ground. Police recovered 15 flower planters from the property, but not all have been fully searched.

In addition to a physical search of a number of properties, the investigation now has an extensive digital component. Police are preparing warrants for online service providers. “We are dealing with some agencies overseas,” said Idsinga.

Police admit the list of missing persons is extensive and say they will be going back a number of years to determine if there are connections between McArthur and names on this list.

Vian Ewart stands by a planter that police investigated at his town house in Toronto, Canada. McArthur was his landscaper.


Vian Ewart stands by a planter that police investigated at his town house in Toronto, Canada. McArthur was his landscaper. Photograph: Rob Gillies/AP

McArthur was arrested on 18 January and charged in the deaths of Selim Esen, 44, and Andrew Kinsman, 49. Police confirmed on Thursday that some of the remains retrieved from the residential property were Kinsman’s.

Later in the month, McArthur was further charged the deaths of Majeed Kayhan, 58, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Dean Lisowick, either 43 or 44.

Idsinga said more charges against McArthur, are expected – who is currently facing five counts of first-degree murder.

McArthur, 66, is thought to have met his victims on gay dating apps or by cruising the city in his work van.

McArthur also travelled for work and investigators are also in contact with other police forces in Canada and overseas.

Police hope to begin searching a second location in the coming days.