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TORONTO – A former landscaper pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder Tuesday, admitting to killing a number of men on the fringes of Toronto society and desecrating their bodies.
Bruce McArthur admitted to killing eight men in the Toronto area over a period of seven years, selecting victims who were alienated from society and of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, according to The Associated Press.
Police found in 2017 the remains of seven of McArthur’s alleged victims. Authorities discovered the bodies, some of which had been dismembered, in large planter pots at a residence where McArthur had provided landscaping services. Authorities later found the body parts of McArthur’s last alleged victim, Andrew Kinsman.
Prior to Kinsman’s disappearance, police had discovered no leads pointing them to McArthur as a suspect in the disappearances of men in Toronto’s Gay Village. Among those missing, and who authorities later determined had been murdered, were a closeted Muslim, a drug-addicted immigrant and a homeless man. Police opened an investigation into the men’s whereabouts in 2012, but did not heavily pursue or charge anyone with their disappearances, according to AP.
After 49-year-old LGBQT activist and former Toronto bartender Andrew Kinsman went missing, however, police revived the investigation. Video surveillance footage shows Kinsman getting into a van with McArthur on June 26, 2017. Authorities later found his DNA in the van and determined that he’d been strangled.
Between 2010 and 2017, McArther allegedly sexually assaulted, strangled and forcibly confined a number of the men.
McArthur has been charged with the murders of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam, according to Global News.
McArthur moved to Toronto in 2000. He was previously married and worked as a salesman. He has two children, according to AP.
“I never saw a temper. Just a happy guy,” said Karen Fraser, who lives at the home where McArthur hid the body parts. “You would never ever think [he could kill],” she said. Fraser also called him a good neighbor and friend.
Police are still investigating the full motive of McArthur’s murders.
Toronto police Detective David Dickinson acknowledged that police may have slipped up during the initial investigation and said officers should learn from their mistakes.
McArthur will be sentenced on Feb. 4, according to AP.