By TU THANH HA, ANNIE BURNS-PIEPER, JILL MAHONEY, JOE FRIESEN, RICK CASH
Saturday, January 20, 2018
As a man accused of murdering two gay men made his first court appearance, police forensic investigators intensified their examination of several properties in Toronto and rural Ontario on Friday, bringing in sniffing dogs, towing vehicles and seizing at least one computer.
Bruce McArthur, 66, made a brief appearance in the Ontario Court on Friday morning to face two charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman. Both men went missing last year from the area around Church and Wellesley streets in Toronto, igniting fears in the LGBTQ community that a predator was targeting gay men.
Mr. McArthur was remanded in custody and will appear again, by video, on Feb. 14.
Police have said they have evidence that there are more victims. Although Toronto police on Thursday would not use the term "serial killer," the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation defines it as someone who unlawfully kills at least two people in separate events.
The arrest came weeks after police issued public reassurances that no evidence indicated the men were dead, connected to other missing cases or that a serial killer was at work.
Investigators in white protective suits continue to search Mr. McArthur's home on the 19th floor of an apartment building in Toronto's Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood. The Globe and Mail also confirmed a search is under way at a two-storey home on Conlins Road in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough. The home is owned by Brendan and Patricia Horan. According to property records, Brendan Horan also owns the Madoc, Ont., property that police are searching in connection with Mr. McArthur's case.
Multiple neighbours said Roger Horan, believed to be Brendan Horan's brother, lives in the Scarborough home. A phone number in the name of R. Horan that was listed for that house has been disconnected.
The Globe has been unable to reach Roger or Brendan Horan, who one neighbour said does not live in Canada.
Toronto Police said Roger Horan has not been reported missing, and would not comment on whether he is connected to the investigation.
As with Mr. McArthur, Roger Horan works as a landscaper. He specializes in rock gardens and is advertised as a speaker at an event in March at the Toronto Botanical Garden.
Neighbours said they saw Mr. McArthur visit the home, which was recently renovated, including extensive landscaping in the backyard, before being put up for sale.
The property at 227 Conlins Rd. sold for just over $1-million on Dec. 12, but the sale does not close until late February. The selling price was more than $100,000 below the asking price of $1.15-million.
Two police cruisers came to the house on Thursday at midday, shortly after Mr. McArthur was arrested, and remained there until forensic vans and a canine unit showed up on Friday.
A police dog was taken into the home and a truck was towed from the front driveway.
Other officers also removed items, including a computer, from Mr. McArthur's Thorncliffe Park apartment. Police have said Mr. McArthur and his two alleged victims used online dating sites.
A woman who lived two doors down from Mr. McArthur, and declined to give her name because she was unsettled by the case, said he used to live in the two-bedroom unit with a male partner and described them both as friendly. She had not seen the partner in several weeks. On Friday, police said a man seen in multiple photos on Mr. McArthur's Facebook page had not been reported missing, and his employer told media outlets he was alive. The Globe has been unable to reach the man and has chosen not to name him.
The neighbour said she had recently become irritated by Mr. McArthur loudly taking items to the garbage chute late at night.
She relayed the activity to police officers when they interviewed her on Thursday night.
Homicide detectives have stated they are searching four Toronto properties and one in Madoc that are associated with Mr. McArthur.
The rural Madoc home, which features several trailers and a large garage, was bought by Brendan Horan in June, 2017.
Roger Horan was seen there regularly.
Neighbour Ivan Vallieres said he met Roger Horan after he moved into the house last summer. He said Roger shuttled between Madoc and Toronto because he was delivering flowers, doing landscaping jobs and had exotic birds at the country house.
"He told me he had 150 exotic birds in his garage that needed to be fed every couple of days," Mr. Vallieres said.
He said Mr. McArthur was also seen at the Madoc property two or three times.
Mr. Vallieres and his wife, Phyllis, said they last saw Roger a few weeks ago. Then police showed up on Thursday night.
"We knew something was going on when we saw the police cars," Ms. Vallieres said.
"We were going to go and try to help, to see what all the trouble was, but they have the place all gated off."
Mr. McArthur's Facebook page, which featured extensive photo albums of vacations, family celebrations and him working as a mall Santa Claus, was taken down on Friday, along with his dating profile. On Silver Daddies, an online dating site for older gay men, Mr. McArthur had described himself as a bit shy, but romantic. He said he was looking to chat with some "nice looking" guys and maybe make some new friends.
Andrew Kinsman's sisters held a press conference on Friday afternoon. They said that the loss of their brother had torn a hole in their lives, but they were relieved, after a six-month search, to have an explanation for his disappearance.
Mr. Kinsman, 49, went missing last June. His disappearance mobilized members of the city's Gay Village, who created social media accounts to draw attention to the disappearances of numerous gay men over the past decade.
In December, police launched an internal review into how they handled the cases. An earlier police task force, Project Houston, had looked into the disappearances of three village regulars, Abdulbasir Faizi, Skandaraj Navaratnam and Majeed Kayhan, between 2010 and 2012. It's not known if those cases are connected to this investigation.
On Thursday morning, Mr. Kinsman's sister said she received a brief phone call from a Toronto police detective informing her of an arrest in connection with her brother's death.
Patricia Kinsman said she asked only one question: Had they found his body? The answer was no. Ms. Kinsman said she will urge police to keep searching for his remains in the hope the family will one day be able to lay their brother to rest.
None of Mr. Kinsman's sisters had heard of Mr. McArthur, nor did they know of any relationship between the two men. They said they still have many questions, and will attend as much of an eventual trial as possible.
Patricia Kinsman said she was satisfied with the police investigation, and was not frustrated that they initially said there was no evidence to suggest a serial killer was at work.
"I think seven months is pretty quick," Ms. Kinsman said.
"There were no clues. He just didn't come home."
Greg Downer, a friend of Mr. Kinsman's, said he had thought no one would ever know how or why Mr. Kinsman disappeared.
Now, the community may face difficult revelations.
"I was fearful of this outcome, and now I'm fearful of the gruesome details," Mr. Downer said.
"I expect this is going to be deeper and darker than we expected."
Mr. McArthur has a criminal record. In 2003, he was convicted of assault causing bodily harm.
The Globe contacted Mr. McArthur's former wife and some of his previous in-laws, who either hung up or refused to comment.
With reports from Molly Hayes, Patrick White and Jesse Winter
A police forensic unit works in the hallway outside Bruce McArthur's home in Thorncliffe Park, Toronto, on Friday.
CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
A Toronto police dog is escorted from a home in Scarborough on Friday, which is connected to the suspect in the alleged murders of two men.
J.P. MOCZULSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL