Saunders says he did not mislead public about alleged serial killer
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, June 5, 2018 4:14PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 5, 2018 7:52PM EDT
Police Chief Mark Saunders is rejecting any suggestion that he misled the public when he told reporters that there was no evidence of a serial killer operating in Toronto’s gay village just weeks before the arrest of Bruce McArthur.
Court documents released by a judge on Monday show that tracking orders for phones and vehicles associated with the MacArthur investigation were issued as early as September 2017 and that a general warrant for McArthur’s apartment was granted on Dec. 4.
Though police did not arrest McArthur until January 18, the court documents do suggest that he was at least on the radar of investigators prior to a Dec. 8 news conference on several missing persons investigations, where Saunders told reporters that the evidence was telling investigators there was not a serial killer operating in the village.
Speaking with CP24 at an event on Tuesday, Saunders flatly rejected any suggestion that he intentionally misled the public at that news conference.
Saunders said that he was being honest given the information that he had at the time.
“I did not mislead anybody with what I said. I knew what the information was at the time. Follow exactly what I said and don’t interpret what I said and you will understand that what I said was accurate, was truthful and in no way was meant to mislead the public in any way shape or form. I don’t have that luxury as chief of police and I wouldn’t use that luxury if I had it anyway,” he said.
McArthur was initially arrested on Jan. 18 and charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. Police have since charged him with the murder of six other men, many of whom had a connection to Toronto’s Church and Wellesley neighbourhood. The charges have not been tested in court.
Members of the LQBT community had long feared the possibility of a serial killer operating in the village. Saunders specifically dismissed that theory at the Dec. 8 news conference, telling reporters that “we follow the evidence and the evidence is telling us that is not the case right now.”
On Tuesday, LGTBQ community advocate Nikki Ward categorized Saunders’s claim that there was no serial killer operating in the village as “less than forthright.” In an interview with CP24, she said that it is possible that in not alerting the community to the possibility of a killer earlier, Saunders may have put some community members in danger.
“The police have an obligation to inform the public so they can protect themselves,” she said. “My interpretation of what he said was that there was no pattern behavior, no predatory behavior, no serial killer.”
Ward said that if police were investigating McArthur prior to the Dec. 8 news conference, they had a responsibility to balance their desire for a successful prosecution with a need to “keep the public safe.”
Saunders, however, told CP24 that he stands behind what he said at that news conference.
“I am not going to rewrite history. How you interpret what I said as media is up to you but I know what I said and I stand behind what I said,” he said.