WARNING: This story contains a graphic image of an unidentified man believed to be dead
Toronto police on Monday released a photograph of an unidentified man who investigators believe is another victim of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur and confirmed that they have found a seventh set of human remains in one of the planters taken from a property used by the 66-year-old landscaper.
Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga, lead investigator in the case, said the police force was releasing the photo of a deceased man as a last resort after exhausting other methods of identifying him.
“We have shown this picture to several people and we don’t know who this gentleman is,” Idsinga said at a morning news conference. “I’m sure someone will recognize him… And I would ask anyone who does, please call us as soon as possible, we’d like to identify this gentleman.”
Remains found in planters
Idsinga said all of the human remains have been found by investigators at a midtown Toronto home where McArthur worked as a landscaper.
The Mallory Crescent property has been ground zero for the investigation, with at least six other sets of remains found in planters. However, police are waiting for warmer weather to investigate other properties associated with McArthur, Idsinga said.
The self-employed landscaper is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of six men who had disappeared from or had ties to Toronto’s Gay Village.
Alleged serial killer
McArthur was arrested Jan. 18 and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, who went missing from the Gay Village in 2017.
On Jan. 29, police laid three additional first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, and Dean Lisowick.
McArthur was also charged in the death of Skandaraj Navaratnam late last month.
So far, police have only identified three of the sets of remains recovered — those of Kinsman, 49, Mahmudi, 50, and Navaratnam, 40. The seventh set of remains has not been identified.
Dr. Michael Pollanen, Chief Forensic Pathologist for the Province of Ontario, said the investigation has challenged his multidisciplinary team of scientists working to unravel the truth behind what has happened.
“This is a unique investigation in the history of our organization,” Dr. Pollanen said.
“It is drawing on the talents and the expertise on essentially everyone in the organization, and I can tell you that I’m very grateful for the dedication of all of our staff in their efforts in this case, not only because of the gravity of the situation, the technical difficulties presented with the case but also with the volume of work.”
Taking toll on investigators
Looking visibly tired, Idsinga also admitted that the complex investigation is also taking a tall on the police officers working on trying to solve the murders.
“Obviously it’s been a rough… almost two months now since Mr. McArthur was arrested let alone the work that went into the investigation prior to that,” Idsinga said.
Some of the investigators have been working on the case since Project Houston, a task force launched by Toronto police in 2012, to look into the disappearances of three men from Toronto’s Gay Village. Project Houston was shut down 18 months later without yielding any results.
“Everyone is tired but everyone is working hard because they do have a vested interest in the successful outcome,” Idsinga said. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of hours but we’re getting the job done the way it’s supposed to be done.”
With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press