Accused serial killer Bruce McArthur’s eighth victim was never reported missing by his family, who thought he was in hiding in Canada after the federal government rejected his refugee claim, according to relatives in Sri Lanka.
McArthur was charged with first degree murder in Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam’s death on Monday. Police announced on Friday that they had confirmed his identity, a month after they released his photo to the public in hopes of identifying him.
McArthur, a 66-year-old landscaper who was arrested in January, had already been accused of killing seven other men with ties to Toronto’s gay village.
Kanagaratnam arrived in Canada in 2010 on the MV Sun Sea, along with hundreds of other Sri Lankan Asylum seekers. He would’ve been 37 years old when he was killed, some time between September and December 2015, said police.
Kanagaratnam’s family didn’t report him missing because they believed he was in hiding after the Canadian government denied his refugee claim, his mother and cousin told CBC News. They were afraid he would get caught and deported to Sri Lanka.
The family, who had been searching for Kanagaratnam for two years, found out about the news of his death on Friday.
On Monday, police refused to comment on his immigration status. They said he had been living in Scarborough, had never been reported missing, and that there was no evidence tying him to The Village.
The last time Kanagaratnam’s family spoke with him was in August 2015. His cousin Suthakaran Thanigasalam and mother Santhanaladchumy Kanagaratnam told CBC that he would call every day, and suddenly stopped. When they tried to call him, his phone wasn’t working.
"That's when we started to worry," said Thanigasalam. "I called everybody here and asked if they had a contact for him … I don't know who to ask, who to talk to, I don't know anything."
Kanagaratnam fled violence in Sri Lanka, where his youngest brother was killed during the conflict between Sri Lanka’s government and Tamil separatists. He came to Canada in order to work and send money home to his mother, his cousin told CBC.
"His mother she had a small street stall," said Thanigasalam. "For two years that's how she survived."
"I'm just in sadness without knowing what's going on," said Kanagaratnam's mother, "Where is my baby?"