Accused serial killer Bruce McArthur has pleaded guilty to eight charges of first-degree murder in Toronto, making a surprise confession one year before his trial was set to begin. Police say McArthur, 67, used his work as a gardener to dispose of his victims.
McArthur was arrested in January 2018 on suspicion of killing at least five men, dismembering their bodies and burying them on a client’s property. Most of the crimes were “sexual in nature,” officials said.
The case set off an intensive search at roughly 30 residences where McArthur worked. Forensic teams found eight sets of remains — all of them around one home. There, McArthur “placed some body parts in planters on the property and others were buried in the ravine adjacent to the property,” according to court documents.
Nearly all the men who were killed had ties to Toronto’s LGBT community and to a predominantly gay neighborhood known as the Gay Village, police said. The first victim disappeared in 2010; the last went missing in 2017.
In a court appearance Tuesday, McArthur admitted to killing Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Majeed Kayhan, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam.
“A total of six of the eight murders were sexual in nature, involving ligature and confinement and some of the victims’ bodies were staged after they were killed,” Toronto police said in a statement issued after the hearing.
Police say that McArthur had been deliberate in planning the murders. When officers searched his bedroom, they found mementos of his victims — jewelry and a notebook — along with “a duffel bag with duct tape, a surgical glove, zip ties, syringes and a black bungee cord.”
DNA from the victims was also found in McArthur’s van and on his clothing.
Court documents from Tuesday’s plea state that when police investigated Kinsman’s disappearance, they found that his calendar had an entry labeled “Bruce” for June 26, 2017. They also found video surveillance footage showing Kinsman getting into McArthur’s van on that day. Investigators said McArthur killed Kinsman on June 26, 2017, or soon after. He is apparently the serial killer’s last victim.
Karen Fraser, whose property was used to dispose of the victims’ bodies, said McArthur has visibly changed since his arrest.
“I knew a man who was always energetic, enthusiastic, eager to get on to the next thing,” she said after attending Tuesday’s hearing, according to the CBC. “And this is just a shuffling, broken man, as he should be.”
McArthur is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 4. As the CBC notes, the key remaining question is whether the confessed killer will serve life sentences concurrently or consecutively. At the least, the news agency reports, McArthur will not be eligible for parole until he is 91 years old.