Bruce McArthur is shown in a Facebook photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook)

UPDATE: Bruce McArthur pleads guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder

The 67-year-old self-employed landscaper was arrested in January 2018

A serial killer who preyed on men from Toronto’s gay village for years sexually assaulted many of his victims and kept some of their belongings after disposing of their bodies, prosecutors said Tuesday as he pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder.

Bruce McArthur, who had been set to stand trial next year, entered the guilty plea during a hearing in a Toronto courtroom on Tuesday morning. The 67-year-old self-employed landscaper was arrested in January 2018.

Police eventually charged him with first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.

The victims went missing from the gay village between 2010 and 2017.

Prosecutors laid out previously unheard details about the case in court Tuesday, saying investigators found some of the victims’ belongings in McArthur’s home.

Crown attorney Michael Cantlon told the court that investigators found a bracelet that belonged to Navaratnam, jewelry that belonged to Lisowick and a notebook that belonged to Esen.

Many of the killings involved sexual assaults and ligatures, Cantlon said.

McArthur planned each killing and dismembered his victims to avoid detection, burying their remains in planters at a home where he worked as a gardener and in a ravine next to the property, he said.

First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. A sentencing hearing for McArthur is scheduled for Feb. 4.

The LGBTQ community had long said someone was targeting men who were vanishing from the city’s gay village.

In November 2012, police launched Project Houston to investigate the disappearances of 42-year-old Faizi, 40-year-old Navaratnam and 58-year-old Kayhan. They closed the probe in April 2014 after being unable to identify a suspect in their disappearances.

In the summer of 2017, police launched a separate investigation known as Project Prism into the disappearances of 49-year-old Kinsman and 44-year-old Esen. Within months, McArthur came on the police radar, according to court documents.

On Jan. 17, 2018, investigators uncovered evidence alleging McArthur was responsible for both Kinsman and Esen’s deaths, along with the deaths of other unidentified people.

The next day, police arrested McArthur at his apartment and charged him with the murders of Kinsman and Esen. They brought cadaver dogs the following day to a property nearby where McArthur, a self-employed landscaper, stored his equipment, court documents said.

READ MORE: Remains of all eight Bruce McArthur victims now identified

READ MORE: McArthur could stand trial as early as September 2019

Over the next three months, investigators made several grisly discoveries at the residential property in midtown Toronto, eventually finding the dismembered remains of seven men in large planters. The remains of an eighth man were found in a large compost pile in a ravine behind the home, police said.

Partway through their investigation, police also made the rare decision to release a heavily edited photograph of a dead man in a bid to identify him. A month later they said the man in the photograph was Kanagaratnam.

Lead investigator Insp. Hank Idsinga said the McArthur probe was the largest forensic examination in the force’s history.

Forensic officers spent four months scouring McArthur’s apartment— they seized 1,800 exhibits and snapped more than 18,000 photographs of the scene. They also searched more than 100 properties where McArthur worked across the Toronto area.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

5 to 10 cm of snow still coming to Fraser Valley: Environment Canada

Hard to say when the freezing rain will turn to regular rainfall, Environment Canada says

EDITORIAL: Honouring Kent’s history

Former editor Grace Kennedy reflects on the special edition for the 125th anniversary

Mount Woodside bike trail planning underway

With this week’s Council approval, planning can begin

FVRD WildSafe wraps up season

Black bears biggest source of calls in district

PHOTOS: Sts’Ailes students scale glaciers as part of mountain skills and wilderness program

‘It’s not just about taking kids hiking, it’s actually about connecting them to the land’

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

VIDEO: Highway 1 left looking like winter war zone with dozens of stranded vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Fraser Valley motorist drives up vehicle ramp and onto parked trailer on Chilliwack road

The incident happened after Chilliwack was handed another dump of snow Friday night

Canada Post driver in hospital after ice smashes windshield at Massey Tunnel

Incident happened on Richmond side of the Massey Tunnel

Most Read