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

Kootenay Lake’s first marine waste pump-out opens

Sewage facility is located at the Prestige marina

1919: Nelson doctor drowns in Kootenay Lake saving child

And other news from a century ago in the Nelson Daily News

Lily Taylor, Levi Taylor win medals at Ogopogo Open

The local weightlifters were among seven Nelson athletes competing at the event

CHECK THIS OUT: Read B.C.! A roundup of books about our fair province

The Nelson Library’s Anne DeGrace gives us a B.C. Day book list

Nelson Leafs trade goalie Hunter Young to Rockies

Nelson will have an all-new duo between the pipes next season

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read