Police: Accused serial killer Bruce McArthur faces 3 more murder charges
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Monday, January 29, 2018 6:21AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 30, 2018 2:10PM EST
Police have charged Toronto landscaper Bruce McArthur with three more murders and have now labelled the 66-year-old an alleged “serial killer.”
Earlier this month, McArthur was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the presumed deaths of Selim Esen, 44, and Andrew Kinsman, 49, and on Monday, police announced that he has now been charged in three additional homicides.
The victims have been identified as Majeed Kayhan, 58, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Dean Lisowick, 47.
Police said Kayhan disappeared in 2012 and was one of the missing men identified in the Project Houston investigation, a 2012 probe into the disappearances of three men from the Church-Wellesley Village area.
Mahmudi was reported missing by his family in Scarborough in 2015 and Lisowick, who police said was an occupant of Toronto’s shelter system, was never reported missing. Investigators said they believe he was killed between May 2016 and July 2017.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference on Monday morning, Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga said human remains belonging to at least three people were uncovered during an exhaustive search of a home on Mallory Crescent in Leaside, where McArthur stored items for his landscaping business.
The remains, which police said were hidden at the bottom of large planters, have not yet been identified. Police said they have not ruled out that some of the remains could belong to victims who have already been named.
“They are skeletal remains and they have been dismembered so we have to wait for DNA tests,” Idsinga said.
“We do believe there are more (victims) and I have no idea how many more there are going to be.”
Idsinga encouraged any homeowners who hired McArthur to do landscaping work over the years to reach out to police.
“Investigators have identified approximately 30 properties within Toronto where Mr. McArthur worked. We have contacted owners of these properties and have conducted searches at the majority of them,” he said.
“We believe we have recovered some remains. We believe there are more remains at some of these properties that we are working to recover.”
Planters from other properties have been seized and will be processed and Idsinga said there are at least two properties that police want to excavate as part of the investigation.
Two victims don't 'fit the profile,' police say
Police have not said if or how the three new victims were acquainted with McArthur but investigators did previously say the accused had a sexual relationship with Kinsman.
Kinsman, Essen, and Kayhan all were known to frequent the Church-Wellesley Village but Idsinga said the two other victims don’t quite “fit the profile.”
“I think the common thread in (Project) Houston were all three men were from the gay village… and they were all men of Middle Eastern decent… Unfortunately I can’t continue with that common thread looking at Mr. Lisowick and Mr. Mahmudi,” he said.
“We don’t know how many more victims there are going to be but it certainly encompasses more than the gay community.”
Police have not said if they believe the unidentified remains could belong to the other two missing men from Project Houston, Abdulbasir “Basir” Faizi and Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam, who both disappeared in 2010.
Idsinga said while police spent more than a year conducting interviews, reviewing video surveillance footage, and reviewing online and cellphone activity as part of Project Houston, no leads turned up.
“At the conclusion of the project, no evidence was found which would classify anyone as a suspect in any criminal offence relating to the disappearances,” he said.
It wasn’t until September, about a month after police launched Project Prism to investigate the disappearances of Kinsman and Esen, when police came across McArthur’s name.
“Mr. Bruce McArthur was identified by Project Prism investigators as someone to be included or excluded as being involved in the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman. Further steps were taken between September and January 2018 to investigate Mr. McArthur. Public safety was always our top priority,” Idsinga said Monday.
On Jan. 17, police found evidence to suggest that McArthur was responsible for the deaths of Kinsman, Esen, and other unknown victims.
At the time McArthur was charged, police said no bodies had been recovered. Police would not say what evidence was discovered to indicate that the homicides had occurred but a source has confirmed to CP24 that the evidence involved photographs.
Police call case 'unprecedented'
When asked about the amount of police resources that have been allotted to this case, Idsinga responded, “Everything we have.”
“It’s very draining on all the investigators. We have approximately 12 people just on the project team but we also have involved forensic investigators, K9 units, divisional personnel to guard crime scenes… Obviously the city of Toronto has never seen anything like this,” he added.
“I’d call it an unprecedented type of investigation.”
He noted that the families of the victims are understandably “shocked” by the discoveries.
“Not just these three (victims) but the earlier two as well. I’m sure the family and friends of the outstanding gentlemen from Project Houston are in shock listening to this and reading about all of this,” he said.
“We have a lot of support services in place for these people and without getting too much into specifics, I’m very thankful to them for their help and cooperation and understanding during this investigation.”
In a statement, Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, the city councillor who represents the Church-Wellesley neighbourhood, said the additional murder charges are “shocking and disturbing.”
“The connection of Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi and Dean Lisowick to this case will come as painful news to the friends and family of the missing who have been in the dark for some time,” she said in the statement. “Even for the brief and limited occasions I had to meet a number of the missing, I have found recent revelations to be very difficult to process. Simply put, these situations have left me heartbroken.”
“The community deserves thanks for their time and effort. The information passed on to authorities and the time search parties and volunteers have spent looking for leads was significant.”
Wong-Tam added the investigators involved in this case “deserve our thanks, as well.”
“For those who are worried about the time it has taken to solve a number of these missing persons cases, I share your concerns and am confident that there will be an opportunity to better understand the inner workings of this complex case in the near future.”