Canadian serial killer Bruce McArthur, 67, pleaded guilty last week to murdering eight men in Toronto and is now awaiting sentencing.
McArthur, who worked as an independent landscaper, hid his victims' remains in large planters on a property he used for storage.
He was arrested after a string of deaths and disappearances from Toronto's gay village, which left residents frightened that police were not taking enough action against someone they thought was targeting the community.
McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam.
During the convicted killer's sentencing hearing, numerous disturbing details of his crimes were revealed by Crown attorney Michael Cantlon, CTV reported.
According to Cantlon, McArthur was arrested during an encounter with someone who could have become his ninth victim.
A man identified only as "John" went to McArthur's home on Jan. 18, 2018, where he was handcuffed to the bed and had a black bag placed over his head, Cantlon said. When John managed to get the bag off, McArthur tried to tape his mouth shut.
It was at that moment police knocked on the door, Cantlon said, according to the BBC.
Police had been tracking McArthur's movements and decided to arrest him when they realized he was with another potential victim.
"A forensic analysis of Mr. McArthur’s computer showed that on the day of Mr. Kinsman’s murder, Mr. McArthur had searched for John and downloaded photographs of him from social media,” Cantlon reportedly said.
Upon searching McArthur's home, police found a hard drive that contained photos he took of his victims, some posed nude in a fur coat and with cigars between their lips. At least one victim had his eyes taped open in the photos.
The photos were stored in eight individual folders, with a ninth folder having been created for John.
In addition to dismembering his victims, McArthur would shave some their heads and beards, then store the hair in ziplock bags in a shed by a cemetery.
McArthur “restrained and sexually assaulted" his victims and strangled them to death with a metal bar with a rope attached to it, Cantlon said.
He met his victims on dating apps and killed them in a “planned and deliberate” way, Cantlon said. They were all connected to Toronto's LGBT community and "linked through their physical appearances."
"Most sported facial hair and/or a beard. Six of the victims were immigrants, and of South Asian or Middle Eastern decent,” Cantlon said.
They were also similar in ways "that made victimization more likely or harder to detect."
"Some were forced to live parts of their life in secret because of their orientation," Cantlon said. "Some lacked stable housing. There is evidence that Mr. McArthur sought out and exploited these vulnerabilities to continue his crimes undetected.”
Police first got on McArthur's trail after he killed Andrew Kinsman.
Kinsman, who was last seen on June 26, 2017, had a diary entry for that day that was marked "Bruce." Surveillance footage showed Kinsman getting into McArthur's car.
After that, police began surveilling McArthur and furtively searched his home after obtaining a warrant.
McArthur had had several previous run-ins with the police. In 2003, he was convicted of assault for hitting a former sexual partner in the head with a metal pipe. In 2013, he was interviewed by police over the disappearances of three of his victims, though he was considered to be a witness rather than a suspect.
In 2016, police again interviewed him after he attempted to strangle his friend in his van. The friend said McArthur had invited him into the van for what he assumed would be a sexual encounter and found the vehicle covered in plastic.
The victim asked, "What do you want from me? Why?" before escaping and reporting it to the police. Police did not charge McArthur, apparently finding his side of the story "credible," and the 2003 arrest did not surface in background searches.
Loved ones of McArthur's victims delivered powerful statements in court about what the losses meant to them.
Rev. Deana Dudley of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto spoke about the “deep and lasting” impact McArthur's crimes would have on the city's LGBT community.
“Many in our community have lost their sense of safety. … There is a sense of ‘It could have been me, it could have been any of us,’” Dudley said. “We are angry and that will persist for a long time, and I just pray that we will not let the anger eat us alive.”
A caption identifying the victims in the second set of photos listed them in the incorrect order.