The trial for alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur has been set for Jan. 6, 2020. The 67-year-old made a brief appearance in a Toronto courtroom on Nov. 30 to receive the news.
News of the trial date comes after McArthur waived his right to a preliminary hearing in October, ultimately speeding up the trial process — a small mercy for the victims’ grieving families and friends.
The former self-employed landscaper was arrested at his apartment in January and is charged in the deaths of Selim Esen, 44; Andrew Kinsman, 49; Majeed Kayhan, 58; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40; Abdulbasir Faizi, 42; Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, 37 and Dean Lisowick, 47. The dismembered remains of the eight men — all of whom had ties to Toronto’s Gay Village — were found in planters in the backyard of a home on Mallory Crescent where McArthur frequently worked. The homicides are believed to have occurred between 2010 and 2017.
The charges against McArthur have consumed much of local — not to mention global — media since news of his arrest first broke. Early on, accusations of homophobia in the police force were cited as the reason why Project Houston — the name given to the investigation into the whereabouts of the missing men — wasn’t made a priority. (Toronto Police have since launched an internal probe into its handling of the investigation.)
How a divorced father-of-two who once held down an annual gig as a mall Santa allegedly went on to become one of Canada’s most prolific serial murders was certainly shocking. One of the most striking aspects of the case, however, is McArthur’s age — 66 at the time of his arrest.
For some of the nation’s leading criminologists and psychologists his age was what struck them as most unusual — it seems to buck the trend in multiple ways with regards to the study of serial killers and aging.
According to Canadian investigative author and historian Peter Vronsky, the average serial killer commits his first murder around 28 years old. “[Male] serial killers rarely begin to kill in their late 50s or 60s,” he told Global News.
This would mean that, if McArthur indeed fell in line with this familiar pattern, he would have started killing his first victims in the late 1970s. Does this mean his final tally is higher than eight men? Many seem to think so. Toronto police are currently digging into cold case files from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s that centre around the Gay Village.
Although there certainly have been exceptions to the rule — think: American vagrant killer Ray Copeland who committed his first murder at age 72 — it seems more than likely that other cases will eventually be linked back to McArthur.
As Sasha Reid, a PhD candidate in developmental psychology at the University of Toronto, told VICE, “80 per cent of serial killers I’ve studied had a prior conviction for assault of sexual violence,” while pointing out that McArthur faced a prior assault conviction in 2003 for beating a man on the street with a metal pipe.