The pews at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto were filled with people on Sunday evening for a vigil, mourning the eight victims of Bruce McArthur.
Ron Smith and Karen Fraser own the home on Mallory Crescent where the remains of McArthur’s victims were found, and they said — while they are still shaken — they came to the vigil to be around the people who have supported them over the last 12 months.
“I don’t really have words to cover this kind of reaction.. It’s very very sad,” Fraser said.
“We’ve made a lot of friends here over the last year. They’ve been very supportive of us and we’ve appreciated it.”
Barry Peters said he came to the vigil to mourn his friend, Majeed Kayhan, who was one of the eight victims.
“I would see him around the village and talk to him… I saw him probably about a month prior to his disappearing and then I saw the posters up that he was missing,” he said.
“I think everyone knew him. He was a character who was bigger than life.”
Peters said he finds solace in being with people who are also grieving the loss of the eight men and it allows him to heal.
“It really helps with the grieving process to be together,” he said.
On Friday, an Ontario judge sentenced serial killer McArthur to serve life in prison and ordered that McArthur not be eligible for parole for 25 years.
Justice John McMahon sentenced McArthur to life in prison for each of the eight counts. He said McArthur won’t have consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.
McArthur, a 67-year-old, self-employed gardener, had pleaded guilty to all eight counts of first-degree murder. Most of the killings, which happened between 2010 and 2017, were described as being “sexual in nature.”
Following the sentencing hearing, Rev. Jeff Rock said many people were left disturbed from the details that came up.
“A lot of the gruesome details that came out in the trial were quite triggering for many of us. There is an unsettled grief in many of our hearts,” Rock said.
“And this vigil is about intentionally turning a page.”
Leaders from the Hindu, Muslim and Indigenous communities spoke during the vigil, sharing prayers.
“All of these communities were impacted,” said Rev. Deana Dudley.
“The men who were killed were targeted and racialized and vulnerable because of who they were.”