Bruce McArthur was a gardener who also worked impersonating Santa Claus at a mall in Canada. Despite having multiple altercations with police, and even receiving a probation sentence after a violent attack years earlier, McArthur avoided arrest for quite some time.
(BBC).- By the time he was arrested, he had already murdered eight men between 2010 and 2017. The 67-year-old pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in court. Most of his victims had some connection to the Village, the gay neighborhood in the city of Toronto. Nearly all were of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent. But because McArthur pleaded guilty at his trial, much of this evidence in the case was not heard in court.
A lucky escape
Another person who was lucky to escape McArthur was Sean Cribbin, who met him in July 2017. They met and exchanged messages online on a dating app where McArthur used the username “Silver Fox.”
McArthur’s profile described him as a “leather daddy” and wrote that he liked to “push a guy to the limits.”
Cribbin visited him in the apartment block where McArthur lived to have sex. But he passed out after consuming the drug gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, better known as GHB.
“When I came to, I saw him standing there looking at me,” Cribbin recalls. “He never made any reference to the fact that I was lost for 20 minutes. I took it as a bad date.”
But, in fact, Cribbin is lucky to be alive. The encounter took place just a month after McArthur killed his eighth victim.
Some time after the incident, a detective contacted Cribbin and told him that an image of him had been found on McArthur’s hard drive.
“He put a hood over my head and duct tape over my eyes,” Cribbin describes. “His hand was on a tube against my throat and he took a picture. That happened during the 20 minutes.”
Cribbin didn’t even know the photograph existed until police informed him, but the bizarre ritual of posing his victims was, in fact, part of McArthur’s repetitive behavior.
Police found numbered folders on McArthur’s hard drive that corresponded to each of the eight men he murdered. McArthur also dressed the victims in a fur coat and the folders contained multiple images of the men before and after death.
Like many cities around the world, the illegal drug GHB or “G” is readily available in Toronto. Some people use the drug during sex because it lowers inhibitions. It has no taste or smell and can easily cause blackouts. While it is most often used consensually, it has been linked to rape and even murder.McArthur is known to have used GHB on at least some of the men he targeted.
A GHB dealer who wants to be known as “Joey” recounts visiting McArthur’s home to use the drug and have sex with him.
“I had some G for both of us,” he says. “I started feeling really weird. He was asking me weird questions like, ‘Are you close to your family, do you have any siblings.”
“In retrospect, I was probably seeing if anyone would miss me if I disappeared. I told him I wasn’t feeling well, so I had to go. There was no life in his eyes. It seemed mean to me. Every time I hear his name, it’s creepy.”
Like Sean Cribbin, Joey survived his encounter with McArthur. Eight others did not.
When McArthur was finally caught, there was outcry from the gay community in Toronto over how he was able to kill undetected for seven years, especially since he had had encounters with police and had known ties to some of the victims.
A detective investigating the case of Abulbasir Faizi, who disappeared in December 2010, says she told colleagues that they might be dealing with a serial killer.
Marie-Catherine Marsot was working for Peel Regional Police in Ontario at the time.
“When you go back to the office and say ‘I think we have a serial killer,’ everyone laughs. Of course, because what’s the chance of catching a serial killer in a police officer’s career? Really few,” he notes.
“Immediately, I got on the phone and tried to contact the Toronto police. I left a voicemail and that person didn’t call me back. I was getting angry…so I sent a formal email.”
In it, Marie-Catherine highlighted the parallels between two men, both brown-skinned and both with pasts in Toronto’s gay neighbourhood, who were believed to be missing at the time.
Marie-Catherine says the police in that city never responded. In turn, Toronto police say there is no record of that alert.
McArthur killed six more men before he was arrested. Abdulbasir Faizi had, in fact, been his second victim. Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Skandaraj Navaratnam and Soroush Mahmudi were the other seven.
An independent review of Toronto police handling of missing persons cases found “serious flaws” in the serial killer investigation. But it also acknowledged the good work of particular officers and concluded that the shortcomings were not “attributable to overt bias or intentional discrimination.”
Those who knew and loved these eight men will always have a void in their lives. A community was left with deep scars.