SEVERE WX : Flash Flood Watch - Flash Flood Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Suspected Toronto serial killer looked 'harmless'

When Bruce McArthur was charged with five counts of murder for allegedly killing several gay men and burying their re...

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 10:47 AM
Updated: Feb 14, 2018 10:47 AM

When Bruce McArthur was charged with five counts of murder for allegedly killing several gay men and burying their remains in potted plants around Toronto, many in the city's LGBTQ community were in shock.

Members of the community recognized him. Paul Ciantar, 54, said he has seen McArthur around the Gay Village at coffee shops or at bars. He did not personally know McArthur, but he knew people who did.

"They all said that they never would have suspected him," Ciantar told CNN. "He looks like Santa Claus. He looks harmless. That probably really helped him."

So far, all of the victims are male, and McArthur had relationships with each of them, some of which were sexual, Toronto Police Service spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said. Police said that two of the victims, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman were active on dating apps.

"He was in the community. To what extent, I don't know," said Constable Danielle Bottineau, Toronto Police Service and LGBTQ liaison officer. "But members definitely knew the accused as well as the victims."

McArthur is due to make a court appearance on Wednesday. His attorney, Edward Royale, told CNN on Monday he would not be commenting on the case.

The grisly killings have rattled the LGBTQ community, as well as the immigrant communities that some of the victims belonged to.

"The accused in this matter preyed on quite a few members of the racialized community, probably knowing full well they weren't out with their culture, weren't out to their family and friends," Bottineau said.

An inconspicuous suspect

McArthur presented himself as a friendly face -- even working as a mall Santa, the definition of jolly. He worked at a mall in Scarborough, Ontario, over the past few Christmas seasons, according to the Agincourt Mall.

"He was hired through an event management company who provides various forms of entertainers including Santa to many events throughout the (Greater Toronto Area)," the Agincourt Mall said in a statement. "There were no reported incidents by customers or by store and mall employees during his time at the mall."

Nothing about McArthur particularly stood out, at least not to those who knew him from afar.

He worked as a landscaper in and around Toronto, and Toronto police said investigators have identified 30 properties that belong to clients of his.

Connie Uetrecht never thought much of McArthur, who often worked on a lawn down the street from her Toronto home.

"I knew that (my neighbor) had somebody to do some of the yard work, but that's all," Uetrecht said Tuesday. "I've seen him a few times, but really I never noticed anything unusual."

Robert MacEachern, who grew up with McArthur outside of Woodville, Ontario, said he couldn't recall anything strange about McArthur.

"He wasn't a child with any issues," MacEachern said. "He was just one of the kids at the schoolhouse."

Aside from a few parties in Woodville over the past 48 years, where he may have seen McArthur three or four times, MacEachern hasn't really known the suspect since 1970, he said.

"I was shocked to hear the news," MacEachern said.

"It's very tragic story, I feel for everybody involved. Just awful," he added.

What's next in the case

McArthur was first arrested January 18 and charged with the murders of Kinsman, 49, and Esen, 44, who both went missing last year. Two weeks later, he was charged with three more counts of murder for the killings of Majeed Kayhan, 58, Dean Lisowick, 47, and Soroush Mahmudi, 50.

Investigators have discovered six sets of human remains buried in planters on different properties connected to McArthur; one set of remains has been identified as Kinsman's. The other remains have yet to be identified, but police said they have sufficient evidence to connect McArthur to the murders of Esen, Kayhan, Lisowick and Mahmudi.

Authorities said they expect they may discover more remains on some of 30 properties connected to him.

The excavation of a property in Toronto's Mallory Crescent neighborhood, down the street from Connie Uetrecht, was completed late Monday evening, according to Gray, the Toronto Police Services spokeswoman. There is still at least one other property in Toronto that investigators are looking to excavate, she said. No time frame was given on when the thawing out process will begin on that site, Gray said.

"We're just very methodically working our way through these properties," Gray said late last week.

There are still a number of planters that are still being investigated by the Toronto Police Department, Gray said. Toronto Police have at least 15 planters that have been obtained in their investigation from various properties in Toronto and surrounding towns. Gray says they still have many of those 15 planters that need to be processed by investigators.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2537823

Reported Deaths: 56270
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings33533010862
Queens31620210308
Suffolk2406933616
Nassau2150853300
Bronx2081546756
New York1687034643
Westchester1439382344
Erie1073581959
Richmond893051939
Monroe851201189
Orange57824920
Rockland53317779
Onondaga52624765
Dutchess35811500
Albany31130390
Oneida28916592
Broome24801409
Niagara24280398
Saratoga20545205
Ulster17373280
Schenectady16970229
Rensselaer15006170
Chautauqua12556175
Putnam1255098
Oswego11868115
Chemung11069158
St. Lawrence10742128
Steuben10304174
Ontario9467111
Jefferson903578
Cayuga8745107
Sullivan854183
Wayne830685
Cattaraugus7863118
Genesee7120132
Herkimer6890129
Clinton683740
Tompkins658059
Fulton6465104
Madison6288102
Montgomery6063143
Livingston581171
Warren559484
Cortland541380
Tioga519472
Columbia5053111
Chenango474688
Allegany471598
Washington471468
Otsego462655
Wyoming443458
Greene442587
Orleans441089
Franklin436422
Lewis365338
Delaware360348
Seneca276763
Essex237533
Schoharie233723
Yates167728
Schuyler155817
Hamilton4393
Unassigned14123
Out of NY0319
Utica
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 54°
Oneonta
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 43°
Herkimer
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 54°
Old Forge
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Game Day Deals - New Deals Each Week
Chapter Aesthetic October Giveaway
Cool To Be Kind 2021
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve