Bruce McArthur’s Victims
This is a shameful episode in police indifference when eight gay men went missing in Toronto between 2010 and 2017. Rumours of a serial killer were ignored by the Toronto Police Service until Bruce McArthur was implicated in an investigation of a missing man, Andrew Kinsman, 49.
The first two charges laid against McArthur by police was for the murders of Kinsman and Esen.
It was Kinsman’s disappearance in June 2017 that sparked a community-wide search and rekindled rumours of a serial killer in the Gay Village.
Kinsman was active in the city’s LGBT community, and friends hung posters of the missing 49-year-old around the Village and nearby Cabbagetown when he went missing.
Soon after, police launched a task force, Project Prism, to investigate his and Esen’s disappearance.
“He wanted to make the world a better place for those struggling to survive,” his sister Karen Coles told the court in February.
His sister described him as someone who, under his “gruff demeanour”, cared deeply about other people and who championed social justice issues – “an extraordinary, quirky and caring individual”.
Police believe Kinsman was sexually involved with McArthur and they found the entry “Bruce” in Kinsman’s diary on June 26, 2017, the day police believe he was killed.BBC.com
Most of the other men were of middle Eastern heritage, so may not have been considered ‘worthy’ of investigation. That’s the racial bias part. The rest was about them all being gay.
The Scientist and the Psychic
I didn’t write about McArthur and his murder victims when it became nationwide news, mainly because I didn’t want to sensationalize his name and reputation. But now I have a different angle to share with you, and it involves Geraldine Stringer, Christian Smith’s mother.
In late 2017, the disappearance of a gay man dominated the local Toronto news. The gay community had linked the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman to several other suspicious disappearances from the gay village. Initially, the police refused to officially connect the cases and admit an active serial killer was at large. I found Andrew Kinsman’s picture on the internet and showed it to my mother, who was stretched out on my living room couch playing on her iPad.
I didn’t tell her anything more than that he’d been missing for a couple of months and presumed dead. According to news reports, his disappearance was out of character, and he would never have left the cat he adored alone. I told her he was on my mind because missing posters were tacked up everywhere in my neighbourhood. I recognized him from the gay village, but I hadn’t formally met him.
Mum looked at his picture and without hesitation, said, “He’s dead.”
Then she said something that stuck with me: “His body is hiding in plain sight.” Her comment continued to nag at me as I walked my dog, Madeline, in the large park down the street from my home near the gay village. There are only a few parks in the downtown core bigger than a suburban backyard, so my mother’s statement baffled me. How could a body stay hidden for months in a major city if it were “in plain sight?” As Madeline and I strolled along the park’s pathways, I scrutinized the shrubbery, wondering if I would see a limb jutting up from the soil.
Three months later, there was a break in the case. Police arrested Bruce McArthur in connection with Kinsman’s disappearance, eventually finding several sets of human remains in planters used by McArthur in his landscaping business; police officially branded him a serial killer. My mother’s precognitive statement didn’t register until one article gave me pause. Beneath the large banner headline was a quote, which read: “Concealing dismembered remains in planter boxes ‘essentially in plain sight’ shows a level of brazenness, criminologist say.”
Essentially in plain sight. Mum’s words. What struck me was how the same phrase kept popping up in discussions about the McArthur case. Reporters and police officials repeated it daily. I again imagined a mental radio transmitter, and this time, my mother had tuned the dial to “the future” frequency and heard three words only she could perceive.Pages 266-267