TORONTO – Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur was ordered Monday to stand trial on eight counts of first-degree murder after he waived his right to a preliminary hearing in a rare legal move.
The 67-year-old self-employed landscaper, who is accused of killing eight men with ties to Toronto’s gay village, shuffled to the prisoner’s box in a packed Toronto courtroom, his head bowed and avoiding eye contact with the family members of his alleged victims.
Looking significantly different from when he was arrested in January — having lost weight, shaved his goatee and cropped his hair short — McArthur said nothing while his lawyer, James Miglin, confirmed his client’s agreement to skip the preliminary inquiry.
Court heard McArthur conceded there was sufficient evidence in the case to move directly to trial.
McArthur is accused of murdering Majeed Kayhan, Selim Esen, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam. The men all went missing from Toronto’s gay village between 2010 and 2017.
Police found the remains of seven of the missing men in large planters at a property where McArthur had worked as a landscaper. The remains of the eighth person were found in a ravine behind the same property in midtown Toronto.
Haran Vijayanathan, the executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention who has become close to many family members of the alleged victims, saw McArthur in person for the first time on Monday — many of the alleged killer’s appearances have been by video link from the Toronto South Detention Centre.
He welcomed the news that McArthur chose to skip the preliminary hearing.
“It’s nice because it doesn’t drag out the process for longer,” Vijayanathan said outside court. “I think the sooner we can put this to rest and the families have answers I think the better it is for folks to understand that.”
Det. David Dickinson said he was also pleased the legal proceedings process is moving forward.
“I’m happy for the families and the witnesses that would have had to have testified at a preliminary hearing,” he said. “At least we don’t have to do that now, we can focus on moving forward at trial.”
Toronto police have said the probe is the largest forensic investigation in the force’s history. Investigators spent months combing through McArthur’s apartment alone and have scoured more than 100 properties across the Toronto area where he worked.
Dickinson said Monday they still have a team of six investigators poring through McArthur’s past, including examining a number of alleged murders that took place in the gay village in the 1970s.
“We do have a team working on them to see if there is linkages, but to date, there is no evidence to suggest Mr. McArthur was involved in any of them,” Dickinson said.
Lead detective Hank Idsinga has previously said he doesn’t believe there are any more alleged victims.
McArthur’s case now moves to the Superior Court of Justice where he’ll make his next appearance on Nov. 5 in front of Justice John McMahon.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said McArthur would stand trial by judge alone