Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur faces additional first-degree murder charge
Chris Fox And Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, February 23, 2018 5:36AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 23, 2018 7:03PM EST
Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur has been charged with one additional count of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam.
McArthur is now facing six charges of first-degree murder.
Police say they still believe that there are other victims who have not yet been located.
“We have no idea,” Idsinga said when asked how many more victims there may be.
The 66-year-old landscaper was facing five counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi and Dean Lisowick but police have repeatedly said that they anticipate laying further charges in the case.
The additional murder charge comes two weeks after police revealed that they recovered the remains of six people in as many as 20 large planters at a Leaside home connected to McArthur.
They’ve been able to positively identify the remains of three of the six people discovered on the property – Kinsman, Mahmudi and Navaratnam.
“Skanda has been missing since Sept. 2010 and it was only yesterday that we were able to call his family and say ‘now we know what happened to Skanda’,”Idsinga said.
Men disappeared from Church-Wellesley Village
McArthur now faces murder charges in connection with four of the five men who were reported missing from the Church and Wellesley area since 2010.
The fifth man, 44-year-old Abdulbasir Faizi, who went missing in Dec. 2010 has not been connected to the McArthur case to date.
Navaratnam the first of the five to go missing, was last seen on Sept. 16, 2010, after leaving a bar in the Church and Wellesley area with another man.
“He was reported missing ten days later by a close friend,” Idsinga said.
Police said at the time that Navaratnam left his dog behind when he disappeared, which was extremely uncharacteristic of him.
Navaratnam was also Facebook friends with McArthur.
The disappearances of Navaratnam, Kayhan, Kinsman, Esen and Faizi, were covered by two separate Toronto police missing persons task forces called Project Houston and Project Prism.
Members of the city’s gay community have repeatedly criticized the police response to the disappearances, saying they were not taken seriously enough and that the possibility of foul play was not considered early enough.
Speaking on Friday, Idsinga invited scrutiny of the investigation into McArthur.
“If people want to look at what we’ve done, then I welcome that.”
He told CP24 after the news conference that he and his fellow investigators were bound by their profession not to engage in speculation when members of the gay community started to express concern that a serial killer was on the loose.
“It’s not something we were ignoring or disregarding,” Idsinga said of the sentiment in his team before any arrests were made, adding it was only in Nov. 2017 that police came across any evidence that suggested one of the victims, Kinsman, was murdered.
“We are thinking the same thing, is it possible that there is a serial killer? But it would be reckless of us and erroneous of us to stand out there and say ‘there are three missing men, so obviously there’s a serial killer.’ I can’t say that but the community can say that.”
But on Dec. 8, 2017, after months with little information provided about eventual victims such as Kinsman or Esen, Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters the “evidence” indicated to him there was no serial killer.
‘Heart-stopping’ moment evidence was found
Up until mid-January, it appeared an arrest in the case was far off, Idsinga said. But everything changed on Jan. 17, when police located evidence indicating a second man — Selim Esen — may have been murdered.
“When we found simply the evidence on Jan. 17 in relation to Selim Esen – it was a heart-stopping moment. Some of the investigators were on days off that morning. We broadcast a message saying we thought we found something here. Everyone came in and we found further evidence which linked Mr. Kinsman and it was quite a moment.”
The next day, police descended on McArthur’s Thorncliffe Park Drive apartment and arrested him.
“You’re very happy in some respects. ‘Okay we’re there, we’ve got this,’ but at the same time you have to deal with this and what it could potentially turn into,” Idsinga said of detaining McArthur.
“So you’re happy but you’re unhappy.”
Count rises to six, with more searches to take place
For now, police continue to explore other properties around the GTA that have been linked to McArthur or his landscaping business.
Excavation at the Leaside property ended on Feb. 14 and the home was released back to its owners after officers said no other human remains were found. But investigators may return to Mallory Crescent in the future.
“We’ve been through all the planters we’ve seized and we haven’t found any other remains but that’s not to say we’re done with examination at Mallory. As I’ve stated before, we’d like to go back there when the weather warms up a little bit and see if the (cadaver) dogs have any more further success,” he said.
Idsinga said police are searching one other property in the city and have two other “properties of interest” in the GTA that they may search in the future.
Meanwhile, police say that the search of a property in Madoc, Ont., which was seized around the time of McArthur’s arrest in January, has concluded with no evidence found.
But police continue to search through McArthur’s Thorncliffe Park apartment for evidence and have said that they expect to be at the address for “at least another month.”
So far, officers have removed a section of wall from the apartment to check the pipes beneath it. They’ve also seized technological items.
A pair of forensic investigators are still engaged in what Idsinga called “an inch by inch” search of all surfaces in the apartment.
Idsinga said the Thorncliffe Park apartment is one of “multiple murder scenes,” police are sifting through.
So far, all six of McArthur's alleged victims have had connections to the city's Church-Wellesley Village.
Idsinga told reporters he has no evidence thus far to indicate the accused had any sort of accomplice in any of the homicides.
Idsinga would not rule out the possibility of further charges being laid against McArthur in the future, and said the investigation could take “months or go into the years” to conclude.
“We are going to back-track his movements and his whereabouts well back into the 1970s. We’re going to look at cold cases from the 70s, 80s, 90s, whether we discover anything, I don’t know yet,” Idsinga told CP24.
Police said they are investigating McArthur’s travel to foreign countries as part of the investigation, but would not elaborate.
McArthur appeared via video link in College Park courtroom at 11:30 a.m. to be formally charged with a sixth count of first-degree murder.
He was wearing a blue sweater with eyeglasses hooked on his chest, looking down as the judge spoke to him.
He is scheduled to appear in court next at 9 a.m. on Feb. 28. Police tell CP24 McArthur is on suicide watch as he is held at Toronto South Detention Centre.
Idsinga would not comment on whether McArthur is cooperating with police.
“We obviously have spoken to him but I can’t comment on whether he’s shared information with us or not.”
Reflecting on the case to date, Idsinga said McArthur fit no established profile of an accused serial killer. He was older than most serial killers, he wasn’t a loner. He has grandchildren.
“It’s scary isn’t it? It’s someone who’s blending in to the community. He seemed to know everyone in the community. It’s a grandfather; it’s what you said, a mall Santa, and a good neighbour.”
“It should give you a little bit of insight into why it’s so hard to catch these guys.”