Toronto police have charged alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur with three more counts of first-degree murder, in addition to the two earlier this month, following an investigation into the deaths of missing men in the city’s Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.
“I stated a week and a half ago, we had some evidence of further victims and once we identified the victims, we laid the charges,” Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga told reporters during a press conference Monday morning.
Investigators have identified the deceased as 58-year-old Majeed Kayhan, who was part of the Project Houston probe looking into the disappearances of three missing men from 2012 to 2014; 50-year-old Soroush Mahmudi, who was reported missing by his family in Scarborough in 2015; and Dean Lisowick, believed to be 43 or 44 years old, who was never reported missing and had lived in Toronto’s shelter system. Police believe he died between May 2016 and July 2017.
Idsinga also announced on Monday that police have discovered human remains at a Toronto home linked to the accused.
“Right now where we’ve recovered the bodies are from large planters and they’ve been hidden in the bottom of these planters,” Idsinga said.
“So we’ve seized quite a few planters from around the city and we’ll continue to do that. There are at least two sites that we do want to excavate where people might be buried.”
Police said the dismembered remains have yet to be identified.
“They cannot be identified because they are skeletal remains and they have been dismembered. We have to wait for DNA tests and we have to get DNA tests from the people that are outstanding and their family members before we can identify those remains,” Idsinga said.
“Investigators have identified approximately 30 properties within Toronto where Mr. McArthur worked. We have contacted owners of these properties and have conducted searches at the majority of them.”
VIDEO: Toronto Police expect more Bruce McArthur victims to be discovered
McArthur, 66, a self-employed landscaper, was initially charged with first-degree murder two weeks ago in connection with the disappearances of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen from Toronto’s Gay Village.
Kinsman was last seen on June 26, 2017, near Parliament and Winchester streets and Esen was last seen on April 14, 2017, near Bloor and Yonge streets. Police said at the time their bodies have not been found.
Authorities had also called both missing persons cases suspicious. In August 2017, Project Prism was created to allow officers to investigate the disappearances.
Investigators said McArthur lived in the city’s Thorncliffe Park area and may be connected to the deaths of other men that have yet to be identified.
Forensic investigators were observed at a Leaside property last Friday bringing in a flatbed truck with a military-grade tent on it, which has been set up at the back of the house on Mallory Crescent. A heater was also brought into the tent.
Police sources said the equipment was being used to warm up the ground for digging. Authorities said the residence was used for storage.
“We do have access to his client list. We’re working through that and have had additional people call in and we’ve worked through that,” Idsinga said.
“Our team has been working very long hours since Wednesday the 17th, and this weekend consisted of mainly canvassing those addresses and searching them.”
VIDEO: Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur charged with three more murders
Police said they are also looking into the possibility that the deaths may have moved beyond Toronto’s gay community.
“The last two victims that we’ve identified don’t quite fit the profile of the earlier victims,” Idsinga said. “As I said, we don’t know how many more victims there are going to be but it certainly encompasses more than the gay community, it encompasses the City of Toronto.”
“We believe there are more and I have no idea how many more there are going to be.”
Idsinga said police have been in contact with the victim’s families and that they have been cooperating in the investigation.
“All of the families are of course shocked, not just these three but the earlier two as well. I’m sure the family and friends of the outstanding gentlemen from Project Houston are in shock listening to this, and reading about all of this,” Idsinga said.
“We have a lot of support services in place for these people. Without getting in too much into specifics, I’m very thankful to them for their help and cooperation and understanding during the investigation.”
Police also said the case has had a profound impact on investigators and called the probe “draining.”
“The City of Toronto has not seen anything like this. It is very tiring and very draining for everyone who’s involved,” Idsinga said.
Investigators said McArthur had a list of about 30 clients and are urging anyone who has had contact with McArthur or hired him to do landscaping work to contact investigators.
VIDEO: Investigation into suspected serial killer Bruce McArthur continues in Leaside