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.

Just Posted

North Delta crime beat, week of Aug. 11

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Police issue warning after four overdoses in North Delta

Police and emergency health services use naloxone to revive four overdose victims Thursday morning

Downtown Surrey BIA says businesses feel ‘slightly safer’ than last year

For second year, littering, loitering and discarded needles top business concerns in safety audit

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Delta reassuring residents tap water is safe to drink

Statement prompted by telemarketers claiming water quality concerns to sell filtration systems

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

North Van music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read