Toronto gay serial killer Bruce McArthur pleads guilty to eight murders

Photo of gay serial killer Bruce McArthur, who staged photos of victims' corpses.

Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur, who targeted men within the city’s gay community, has pleaded guilty to eight murders.

McArthur pleaded guilty on Tuesday (January 29) to eight counts of first-degree murder over the deaths of eight men, which took place between in 2010 and late 2017.

The 67-year-old landscaper was arrested in January 2018 after police linked him to a series of unsolved murders in the city’s gay community.

Appearing at the Superior Court of Justice, McArthur entered guilty pleas for the killings of Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Majeed Kayhan, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam and Abdulbasir Faizi, Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick and Andrew Kinsman.

Seven of the victims had ties to the city’s gay community, and a number were immigrants from South Asia or the Middle East.

Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old self-employed landscaper, pleaded guilty to eight counts of murder

Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old self-employed landscaper, pleaded guilty to eight counts of murder

The court heard that McArthur dismembered his victims and disposed in gardening planters.

The remains of seven of the men were found concealed in planters at a Toronto property where McArthur stored his landscaping tools, while the remains of one man were found in a ravine.

The court heard that some of the killings were of a sexual nature.

Speaking outside the court, Toronto Police detective David Dickinson said: “We are pleased that McArthur has pleaded guilty, sparing the communities and families a lengthy trial.

“This is the best outcome… I hope we can start bringing some closure to the families and the communities.”

Dickinson added that the police force would continue to investigate cold cases with potential links to McArthur, adding: “It’s not ending any time soon.”

Asked if he knew the reasons for McArthur’s crimes, the detective added: “I don’t know if we will ever know why.”

McArthur will be sentenced on February 4, but is likely to face the remainder of his life behind bars.

LGBT+ activists allege police ‘failed to stop’ Bruce McArthur, despite warnings

The case has significantly worsened relations between Toronto’s police force and the city’s LGBT+ community.

McArhur was only arrested after years of bungled investigations into mysterious disappearances within the gay community, and LGBT+ activists have been harshly critical of the police force’s actions.

Pride Toronto members voted to ban uniformed police officers taking part in the city’s 2019 Pride celebrations, in part due to anger over the alleged failings in the McArthur case.

Asked whether there should be an inquiry into failings in the case, Dickinson said: “There’s an inquest going on, and if there were mistakes made or lessons learned, absolutely we should learn from them.

“If there were mistakes, we should learn from them and move forward.”

The McArthur case is eerily similar to that of London-based serial killer Stephen Port, who was convicted of four murders in 2016.

Port, who became known as the ‘Grindr killer’ due to his use of hook-up apps to find victims, evaded the police for years despite warnings from the local LGBT+ community.

A probe was launched by the Independent Office of Police Conduct into alleged police failings connected to the case, but 16 of the 17 officers involved refused to answer questions in interviews with the police watchdog.

The IOPC report was completed in August 2018 but it is yet to be published.