This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday in a Toronto courtroom that was packed with family and friends of the men whose lives he cut short.
Wearing a black sweater over a plaid shirt, McArthur sat motionless as the federal prosecutor read out new details of the gruesome crimes.
Family members who occupied the first five rows of the court wiped away tears, while relatives for one of the victims listened in on the phone from London, England.
McArthur is guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi, Kirushna Kan Withagaratnam, and Abdulbasir Faizi. The 67-year-old former landscaper preyed on men with ties to the city’s Gay Village who went missing between 2010 and 2017. The men were between 37 and 58 years old.
The court heard on Tuesday how he kept the belongings of some of his victims, and that in a search of his bedroom, police found a duffle bag containing duct tape and other items including rope. The federal prosecutor told the court McArthur staged some of his victims and that many murders were “sexual in nature.”
McArthur said “yes your honor” after the federal prosecutor read the brief synopsis of facts. His sentencing hearing is expected to commence on February 4, at which time a full agreed statement of facts will be read aloud. Tamil, Farsi, and French interpreters have been requested to be in attendance next week for relatives of some of the victims.
Detective Dave Dickinson and Inspector Hank Idsinga told reporters that a conviction for first-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no parole for 25 years. The judge told the courtroom that the only issue to be decided at sentencing is whether his parole ineligibility will run concurrently or consecutively. He will not be paroled until he is at least 91.
McArthur was first arrested last January and has been held in custody ever since. Police officers had discovered the remains of seven men among gardens at a Toronto home where he worked. The remains of the eighth victim were located in a ravine near that property.
McArthur eventually waived his right to a preliminary hearing, meaning his case would go immediately to trial. That trial was scheduled for January 2020, and was expected to take three to four months.
McArthur was previously married and has two children. When he was older, he moved to the Church and Wellesley area of Toronto.
The case against Bruce McArthur highlighted tensions between the Toronto Police and the city’s LGBTQ communities, as they had long believed a serial killer was preying on men in the Village.
An independent investigation into how the Toronto Police deal with missing persons cases was struck last year. The review plans to consult with members of the public, groups, and experts and plans to conclude in 2020.
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