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Toronto police take ‘last resort’ of releasing apparent death photo, in bid to identify new victim in serial killer case

The circumstances behind the photo of the bearded man were unclear, but police believe him to have been the seventh victim of Bruce McArthur

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2018, 3:35am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2018, 10:59pm

In a rare move on Monday, Toronto police released a photograph of an unidentified man investigators believe was the seventh victim of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.

A forensic search had uncovered more human remains hidden in large planters used by the Toronto landscaper, who has been charged with murdering gay men, police announced on Monday.

But the circumstances behind the oddly angled full-face photo of a bearded man with his eyes partially closed were unclear. From the neck down, the picture appeared to have been either digitally reconstructed or enhanced.

Authorities appealed to the public for help in identifying the apparent victim from the photograph, seemingly taken postmortem. 

“I did not want to release this picture and I am doing so as a last resort,” said Detective-Sergeant Hank Idsinga, lead investigator in the case.

“We have utilised numerous investigative techniques to identify this individual and so far have been unsuccessful.”

Did Toronto serial killer seal his own fate when he picked Andrew Kinsman as his victim?

Idsinga declined to comment on the origin of the image or how it came into the possession of investigators.

Bruce McArthur, 66, was arrested in January following an investigation into the disappearances of two men from a predominantly gay neighbourhood in downtown Toronto last year, which led police to the planters at a property that he used for storage.

The latest discovery brings the total number of victims in the grisly murder case to seven, although so far only three have been identified.

“We have recovered the remains of at least seven individuals from the planters seized at the (east side Toronto) home,” lead investigator Sergeant Hank Idsinga told a press conference.

“Steps are ongoing in an attempt to identify these victims,” he said.

The man in the victim photograph appeared to be in his 40s or early 50s, with dark hair and a beard, and bruises on his face.

The victims currently known to police are Andrew Kinsman, 49, who had a long-term sexual relationship with McArthur; Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, who went missing in 2010; and Soroush Mahmudi, 50, whose disappearance was reported almost three years ago.

McArthur is also charged with the murders of Majeed Kayhan, 58, Dean Lisowick, 47, and Selim Esen, 44.

And now a seventh murder charge is expected to be laid when McArthur returns to court later this month.

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Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist Michael Pollanen told a press conference this case has “challenged” his team.

“We have used a multidisciplinary approach to try to find the truth behind what happened,” he said.

Pathologists compared the body parts found in the planters to the fingerprints, dental records, and the medical histories of missing persons going back decades, for possible matches.

“At this time, the cause of deaths are pending further studies,” he said. “You can imagine that the state of decomposition and the dismemberment process requires us to reconstruct remains and then collect all of the relevant data.”

‘Toronto serial killer’ investigators find no new remains in yard tied to suspect

McArthur came under suspicion in September 2017 in connection with the disappearance of Kinsman, but police at first rejected suggestions that a serial killer was prowling Toronto’s gay neighbourhood.

According to local media, police made a quick decision to enter McArthur’s flat and arrest him on January 18 when they saw a young man enter his home. Police found the man tied up on a bed, but unharmed.