Toronto land­scaper charged in slay­ings

Po­lice fear bod­ies are in planters at 30 other prop­er­ties.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Kyle Swen­son Wash­ing­ton Post

The house on Mal­lory Crescent was a gray two-story shot­gun with brown trim, its garage just a few steps up from the side­walk.

In the sum­mer months veg­e­ta­tion spilled out from the flower beds run­ning along the drive­way, but by the time in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the Toronto Po­lice Ser­vice marched onto the lot Jan. 18, the raw Cana­dian win­ter had scraped away the land­scap­ing and po­lice turned their at­ten­tion to large flower planters stored at the back of the prop­erty.

They searched there be­cause a self-em­ployed land- sca­per named Bruce McArthur had worked on the prop- erty. That same day, he had been charged with killing two peo­ple. Po­lice had rea­son to be­lieve there might be more.

And they be­lieved they knew where they might find more bod­ies. McArthur was a self-em­ployed land­scaper who stored items at the house where they were search­ing in re­turn for yard work.

In­deed, in­side the plant- ers were hid­den the dis­mem- bere­dremains of at least three peo­ple.

On Mon­day, McArthur, bulky-framed pink-cheeked 66-year-old who reg­u­larly donned a Santa Claus cos- tume at a lo­cal mall dur­ing the hol­i­days, was charged with three ad­di­tional murders.

Po­lice be­lieve there are more bod­ies still. Right now, in­ves­ti­ga­tors are un­der­tak­ing the macabre task of vis­it­ing the 30 other prop­er­ties where McArthur per­formed lawn work, col­lect­ing more than a dozen planters that po­lice be­lieve con­tain ad­di­tional re­mains.

“It’s a se­rial killer — al­leged se­rial killer,” Sgt. Hank Idsinga ex­plained at a news con- fer­ence Mon­day in Toronto.

The grue­some news in Can- ada’s largest city is un­fold- ing this week against a back­drop of so­cial out­rage. Both McArthur and a num­ber of his al­leged vic­tims had ties to Toronto’s Gay Vil­lage neigh- bor­hood.

For years, mem­bers of the city’s LGBT com­mu­nity had re­ported dis­ap­pear­ances from the area, spark­ing whis- pers about a pos­si­ble se­rial killer tar­get­ing the com­mu­nity. e are val­i­dated in our con­cerns, but there’s no joy to be had in that,” Nicki Ward, a com­mu­nity ac­tivist, told the Cana­dian Broad­cast­ing Corp. this week. “Why weren’t we lis­tened to ear­lier?”

Ac­cord­ing to the time- line pro­vided by Idsinga at the brief­ing, be­gin­ning in Novem­ber 2012, Toronto po­lice launched “Project Hous­ton,” an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ance of three men from Gay Vil­lage, all of Mid­dle East­ern des­cent. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ued fruit­lessly un­til April 2014.

“At the con­clu­sion of the project, no ev­i­dence is found which would clas­sify any­one as a sus­pect in any crim­i­nal of­fense re­lated to the dis­ap­pear­ances,” Idsinga said.

But in Au­gust 2017, po­lice started a new in­ves­ti­ga­tion — Project Prism — look­ing for traces of two other miss­ing mem­bers of the gay com­mu­nity: Se­lim Esen, 44, and An­drew Kins­man, 49.

They learned that Kins­man had had a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with McArthur, po­lice say. In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­gan fol­low­ing McArthur.

On Jan. 18, McArthur was ar­rested and charged with Esen and Kins­man’s murders.

After fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the dis­cov­ery of re­mains in the planters, au­thor­i­ties charged McArthur with three ad­di­tional murders: Ma­jeed Kay­han, 58; Soroush Mah­mudi, 50; and Dean Lisow­ick, 47. Po­lice have not pub­licly con­nected the vic­tims to the planters. They said DNA test­ing was on­go­ing.

McArthur is sched­uled to make a plea ap­pear­ance in court Feb. 14.

LARS HAGBERG / CANA­DIAN PRESS

Toronto po­lice foren­sic of­fi­cers stand near a house Fri­day in Madoc, On­tario. Po­lice are comb­ing through prop­er­ties con­nected with land­scaper Bruce McArthur, who is charged with sev­eral killings.

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