Like so many other Toronto residents, hearing the news that someone was finally in custody for multiple murders that had occurred over the past few years came with both a sense of relief as well as trepidation, especially when the news broke that the police were calling him a potential serial killer.
First, a little info, for those readers who have not heard about this case:
A BRIEF TIMELINE
In the fall of 2012, multiple men are reported missing from Toronto’s gay village (Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi. Dean Lisowick, although not reported missing, is thought to have fallen victim in this timeline).
Truthfully, men had been going missing long before that, but at this point, the police launched a special task force to investigate 3 missing men (Project Houston).
After 2 years, the task force is closed, with police citing “none of their findings would classify anyone as a suspect of a criminal offence”
Men continue to go missing but it isn’t until 2017, after Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman, go missing in April & June, that another task force is opened (Project Prism).
A month later, officers identify McArthur as having potential involvement in the disappearances that summer.
In January of 2018, police announce they have evidence that he was, in fact, responsible for Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman’s deaths. One day later, McArthur is arrested.
A few weeks later, after gruesome searches which included oversized planters on a property where McArthur worked as a landscaper, McArthur is additionally charged with the murders of Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi and Dean Lisowick.
The investigation is ongoing, with the police announcing last week that McArthur is also charged in the death of Skandaraj Navaratnam and that they are looking at a potential 30 other sites for remains.
CLOSE TO HOME
I in no way write this to sensationalize these horrific crimes. Everything about this case is chilling, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching.
These are things you only hear about in movies. Or from afar. Not within your own city. Not in your own neighborhood.
That’s right. When the news broke about Bruce McArthur, it turns out, he lived not far from my building. But that’s not the end of it. The day after McArthur was arrested, I saw police cars in front of our building. Why does this matter?
Imagine the feeling one gets when watching the news report on an alleged serial killer as the camera pans up the facade of a condo building…and it’s where you live.
I instantly shouted, “HEY! THAT’S OUR BUILDING!” while pointing at the screen. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t seem real.
And then I remembered. Those police cruisers parked in front of the building. They weren’t your regular cruiser. They had a different number on them, not just a cruiser number but…letters. Something…different. After noticing it, I made a mental note to look it up when I got upstairs but the tasks of the day got in the way and I soon forgot. Until I watched the news that night…
News reports indicated McArthur’s on-again-off-again boyfriend is the one who lives here. Does that alleviate my mind? I’m not sure. Not when cruisers are parked in front of your building for a few days. Not when your fiance comes home and says he saw a forensics officer getting into the elevator with an evidence bag in one’s hand.
I’m not going to delve any further into the horrific details of the murders here (and what little the public has been told is truly horrific already…). There are so many details I haven’t included, including other alleged incidents with the accused. It’s just a bizarre thing to have happen, and brings up so many questions, other than the obvious ones.
McArthur was here, in this building, at some point. I didn’t recognize him or anything when seeing his photo on the screen. But just think of how often you get into the elevator, punch the button for your floor, and think absentmindedly about your daily routine while barely noticing others around you.
For all I know, I shared an elevator with that man. For all I know, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him. Breathed the same air. Did I see him? Did he see me?
For all the horror stories I write, the scary books I read, the spooky movies I watch on-screen, my questions above are just as terrifying.
Jump-scares are one thing. But those terrors hiding in plain sight can be far more hideous, because you’re lulled into a false sense of security before you even know they’re there. It’s the kind of thing that can keep one up at night.
My heart breaks for these men, for their family & friends, for the community, for our city. And the scary part is, this is just the beginning…