Police 'always had that feeling' a killer lurked in the Gay Village, McArthur investigator says

17 Apr 2018 | Canada
Police 'always had that feeling' a killer lurked in the Gay Village, McArthur investigator says

The lead detective investigating alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur says police knew "something was up" with disappearances from Toronto's Gay Village in 2012.

"We've always had that feeling," Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga said of police hunches that a killer may have been preying on men in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood. Some LGBT residents say there's been open speculation within the community about that possibility for years, and that those fears were communicated to police.

In 2012, Idsinga was among investigators assigned to Project Houston. The task force was struck to probe the disappearances of Majeed Kayhan, Skandaraj Navaratnam and Abdulbasir Faizi, who all went missing in the two years previous. 

Police now allege McArthur killed all three men, as well as five others — three of whom were subjects of a later missing persons task force called Project Prism. McArthur now faces eight counts of first-degree murder and is currently being held at Toronto South Detention Centre. 

"We investigated that piece of evidence for six months until we were able to eliminate it," Idsinga explained. 

"It's easy to say in hindsight now 'well, you should have known something is up.' Well, we did know that something was up, we just didn't know what it was and we didn't have any evidence of what was going on," he said.

That has clearly changed, as police feel confident enough in their case to lay eight first-degree murder charges against McArthur, who worked as a landscaper.

Among the recently uncovered evidence were the remains of at least seven victims found in large garden planters at a Leaside home.

Idsinga, a veteran investigator, said cracking open a planter in the morgue and finding a human skull was an emotional moment.

"It was sickening, and it was angering," he recalled.

"I was very angry at the time. That this had happened. That this had gone on in this city … I've been working in the city for almost 30 years doing police work, trying to keep the city safe. And realizing this has gone on, it angers you."

On Monday, Idsinga revealed that McArthur's eighth alleged victim has been identified as 37-year-old Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, a Sri Lankan migrant who a friend says applied for refugee status after arriving in Canada in 2010.