Toronto police today arrested 66-year-old landscaper Bruce McArthur and charged him with two counts of first-degree murder related to the disappearances of Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Selim Esen, 42, two gay men who went missing last year near a downtown neighborhood known as the center of the city’s LGBTQ community.
Homicide Detective-Sgt. Hank Idsinga said Bruce McArthur, who works as a self-employed landscape designer was arrested at 10:25 a.m. this morning after significant progress was made in the investigation into the Village disappearances on Wednesday.
Idsinga said investigators had been looking into McArthur’s involvement for several months, but evidence recovered Wednesday prompted McArthur’s arrest.
Neither Esen nor Kinsman’s body has been found, police said. Police have initiated search warrants at four Toronto properties and a fifth in Madoc, Ont., which are associated with McArthur.
“We’re conducting these search warrants in an effort to locate the bodies,” Idsinga said.
He did not give any specifics as to the evidence that prompted McArthur’s arrest.
McArthur lived in a high-rise apartment in Thorncliffe Park, a leafy neighbourhood about five kilometres — a 15- or 20-minute drive — northeast of Church and Wellesley. Forensic investigators were examining a 19th floor unit there late Thursday evening.
One man, Kyle Andrews, who says he met McArthur once through a former boyfriend, told CBC Toronto in a series of brief Facebook messages that McArthur frequented Toronto’s Gay Village.
He was also reportedly active on online dating sites. Someone named Bruce McArthur posted on the dating site Silver Daddies, which bills itself as a site for mature gay men, according to VICE Canada.
“I can be a bit shy until i get to know you, but am a romantic at heart,” the profile, seen in a screen grab, reads. “I love to cook and enjoy most types of food.”
McArthur was active on other social media. A Facebook profile with his name, and photos of a man identified by neighbours as McArthur, remains active.
On Facebook, McArthur is friends with another man who went missing from Church and Wellesley.
Skandaraj Navaratham, 40, known online as Skanda Nava, is one of three other men who vanished between 2010 and 2012. After he disappeared in September 2010, Abdulbasir Faizi,44, vanished from a location just blocks away three months later. Then, in October 2012, Majeed Kayhan, 58, was reported missing as well, last seen in the Gay Village.
Towleroad’s Michael Fitzgerald reported on the cases earlier this year:
In August, Toronto police voiced concerns that the disappearance of Esen and Kinsman from the city’s gay village could be linked to three other men who have not been seen for more than five years.
In a press release issued in August, Toronto police confirmed that they were investigating whether the two missing persons cases are connected.
Vice reported that the latest cases bear a striking resemblance to the disappearance of three men from the village between 2010 and 2012.
Detective Sergeant Michael Richmond noted in the press release that while “some members of the community and media have made a connection between the disappearance of Mr. Kinsman and that of 11 other males,” that line of inquiry was factually incorrect and “quite misleading.” However, police admitted that they are concerned about possible links to the 2010-2012 cases. All three of those men were in their 40s or early 50s, were Arab or East Asian, and frequented the same venues on Church Street in the village.
There are reasons to suspect that the cases are merely an eerie coincidence. Kinsman is white, meaning he doesn’t quite fit the profile established by the first three men to disappear.. The five year gap between when the last man when missing, in 2012, and these two cases also suggests that, while they may be suspicious, the causes of these disappearances are unrelated.
Yet there are similarities. Esen fits the profile to a T. Of the five cases, all are of similar age, build, and all have facial hair.
Even more strangely, a hypothesis floated by an internet sleuth on an online message board some four years ago also rings true: All of the disappearances have been around holiday weekends. Kinsman, over Pride. Esen, over Easter. The previous three cases: Labour Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving.
Amid fears over the summer that police weren’t taking these cases seriously, Richmond said the investigation into Kinsman’s disappearance was in the process of “ramping up,” and police were getting set to conduct another search of his apartment.