McArthur faces 8th mur­der charge; al­leged vic­tim from Sri Lanka


TORONTO — The com­plex in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged se­rial killer Bruce McArthur took an­other twist on Mon­day as Toronto po­lice laid an eighth mur­der charge re­lated to the death of a man who bucked the pri­mary trend in the case.

Un­like McArthur’s other seven al­leged vic­tims, Toronto po­lice said 37-year-old Kirushna Ku­mar Kana­garat­nam is not be­lieved to have had ties to the city’s LGBTQ com­mu­nity or a down­town neigh­bour­hood known as the gay vil­lage.

Like most of the other men the self-em­ployed land­scaper is be­lieved to have slain, how­ever, Kana­garat­nam’s re­mains were re­cov­ered from planters at a cen­tral Toronto home where McArthur once worked.

Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga said Kana­garat­nam’s death has po­ten­tial to ex­pand the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which he has pre­vi­ously de­scribed as “un­prece­dented” in size and scope.

“This does cre­ate ba­si­cally a wide-open net,” Idsinga said at a news con­fer­ence. “We’ve had lots of in­ter­na­tional calls since our pleas be­gan from peo­ple who just haven’t seen fam­ily mem­bers in years.”

Idsinga re­vealed few other de­tails about Kana­garat­nam other than to say he ar­rived in Canada from Sri Lanka in 2010, lived in the east Toronto sub­urb of Scar­bor­ough, and was never for­mally re­ported miss­ing in Canada de­spite hav­ing dis­tant rel­a­tives in the Greater Toronto Area.

He said the man was iden­ti­fied through help from an uniden­ti­fied in­ter­na­tional agency as well as an un­usual pho­to­graph po­lice re­leased last month.

The heav­ily edited im­age show­ing a bearded man who ap­peared to be dead was shared with the pub­lic as a “last re­sort,” Idsinga said, adding it prompted hun­dreds of tips to pour in to po­lice.

Po­lice had been con­cen­trat­ing on 22 po­ten­tial iden­ti­fi­ca­tions last week, but Kana­garat­nam was not on the list, Idsinga said. He de­clined to say how the in­ter­na­tional agency con­trib­uted to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion or how Toronto po­lice came by the photo in the first place.

McArthur, 66, was ar­rested in Jan­uary and charged with the mur­ders of An­drew Kins­man and Se­lim Esen, who went miss­ing from Toronto’s gay vil­lage in 2017.

Later that month, he was charged with the first-de­gree mur­der of Ma­jeed Kay­han, Soroush Mah­mudi, and Dean Lisow­ick. In Fe­bru­ary, he was also charged in the death of Skan­daraj Navarat­nam.

The re­mains of all but Kay­han were found in planters at the home of one of McArthur’s land­scap­ing clients, Idsinga said, adding Kay­han’s re­mains have yet to be iden­ti­fied. While he said po­lice in­tend to comb at least 70 prop­er­ties linked to McArthur in the com­ing months, Idsinga de­clined to say if in­ves­ti­ga­tors ex­pect to un­earth fur­ther al­leged vic­tims.

“I think we’ve all seen in the me­dia so-called ex­perts who tell us that se­rial killers don’t start in their late 50s and their 60s,” Idsinga said. “But then again if we lis­ten to these ex­perts, we’d be look­ing for a brown-skinned 35-year-old male and that sim­ply isn’t the case, ob­vi­ously.”

In ad­di­tion to the new av­enues opened up by the dis­cov­ery of Kana­garat­nam’s re­mains, po­lice have also ex­panded the sprawl­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion decades into the past by ex­am­in­ing some cold cases.

Idsinga has pre­vi­ously said that in­ves­ti­ga­tors are ex­am­in­ing 15 un­solved homi­cides that took place be­tween 1975 and 1997. He said the vic­tims in those cases matched the gen­eral pro­file of the first seven men McArthur is ac­cused of killing.

He em­pha­sized, how­ever, that po­lice have not un­cov­ered any ev­i­dence to sug­gest that McArthur’s al­leged killing spree be­gan be­fore 2010 when Navarat­nam is be­lieved to have died.

Many of McArthur’s al­leged vic­tims were the sub­jects of two pre­vi­ous po­lice probes into the dis­ap­pear­ances of men from the city’s gay vil­lage.

The first probe — named Project Hous­ton — was launched in 2012 to in­ves­ti­gate the dis­ap­pear­ances of Faizi, Kay­han and Navarat­nam. It closed af­ter 18 months as it did not es­tab­lish the where­abouts of the miss­ing men or re­solve the cir­cum­stances of their dis­ap­pear­ances, po­lice said.

In Au­gust 2017, po­lice launched Project Prism, which looked into the dis­ap­pear­ances of Kins­man and Esen. McArthur came to the po­lice’s at­ten­tion in the fall of 2017 as part of that probe.

Toronto po­lice have faced heavy crit­i­cism from the pub­lic and the LGBTQ com­mu­nity in par­tic­u­lar for their han­dling of the miss­ing per­sons cases.

As re­cently as six weeks be­fore McArthur’s ar­rest, the force, in­clud­ing Chief Mark Saun­ders, said there was no in­di­ca­tion the dis­ap­pear­ances were the work of a se­rial killer.

Saun­ders apol­o­gized in Fe­bru­ary af­ter seem­ing to sug­gest in a pub­lished in­ter­view that po­lice might have cracked the cases ear­lier if mem­bers of the pub­lic had been more forth­com­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

An ex­ter­nal re­view to be launched later this month will look into the way in which Toronto po­lice in­ves­ti­gated the miss­ing men re­ports.

Kirushna Ku­mar Kana­garat­nam

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