A killer pleads guilty and a city exhales
Take. A city exhaled yesterday just a bit, but it was badly needed. We myself in the investigative team are pleased that Mr. MacArthur has pled guilty today. Sparing the community and those who knew the victims of lengthy trial. I believe that this is the best possible outcome for the families and the community. For about two years in Toronto. It is felt like the overwhelming question around the crimes that led to Bruce. Macarthur's arrest has been how much worse is this going to get we started wondering at with dread after dogged reporting made it clear that men were vanishing in the church street village, three men disappeared over two years span. But it's only now that investigators are now making any kind of connection we asked the same question after each new cry for help from the community the fact that there was a serial killer that was out there the evidence does not point to that the evidence does not suggest that we wondered it after every please press conference. I when they said, there was no reason to believe there was a serial killer operating then this morning at approximately ten twenty five AM. Police arrested Sixty-six-year-old Bruce MacArthur, he has been charged with two counts of first degree murder in relation to Mr. kinsman. And Mr. Essen, we wondered it after every revelation made plane just how long the hints and the warnings had been there. Wait. Thing for investigators. We wondered it after every new charge every new body. Every announcement the police were spotted back at the Mallory crescent property where the remains were found and every time we asked at brought a new lurch of dread for the city's LGBT community for the families of the missing and dead men for Toronto which could only stare in horror the specter of a public trial loomed. Like, a gavel all the evidence will be laid bare the vultures of international media would swoop down on a grieving community. Imagine all the columns and opinion pieces, and the creepy fascinated voyeurs learning about how the victims were stocked and preyed upon it would have been a circus, and it would have broken Toronto in a very real way. So yes, the guilty plea that came Tuesday meant attentive shaky ex now the city will be spared at trial, though. So a different question needs to be asked. Maybe it won't get worse. But how can it get better? How does the city recover from a crime that fractured and already tense relationship between the police vulnerable community? How does the space lake Toronto's gay village that has served as a beacon for so many people fleeing prejudice and judgment start to feel safe again? I'm Jordan heath Rawlings. And this is the big story moment Karachi is a reporter at six eighty news. He has been on the ground covering the MacArthur trial since the arrest been to almost every hearing. He's had since then I met him is to one or two along the way, but pretty much everyone and made many visits to Mallory crescent. Yes, there were a lot of whispers well before the arrest that something was happening as someone who's who's a general assignment reporter for for a newsroom, we'll kind of whispers, we're going on around there. And what have you heard? Well, I mean, it was it was definitely something that was being talked about a lot particularly in the gay community in the village here in Toronto, you know, men were disappearing from that community people were feeling unsafe. There was a lot of talk about their potentially being a killer. The community was calling for kind of pushing police to look into it. There's some push back from Toronto police against it. And then, of course, their worst fears realized when MacArthur was. Rested of the we'll realized before that. But they came to fruition of being a real thing. When when the police finally arrested MacArthur, it feels like that was a moment that something change in the relationship between the city's gay community and the police, you know, it's it's definitely a relationship. That's been inflexible. We see evidence around this case. And then if you look at the ongoing back and forth about police in uniform participating in pride, right? They've definitely had a fractured relationship. Over years. You go back to the bath house raids that happened a few decades ago. So the relationship between the gay community and Toronto police has certainly been fractured overtime. I think Toronto police are at this point right now, hyper aware and have worked really hard over the last year, particularly the detectives involved in this case and really being in touch with the victims families with the community trying to reach out trying to get the information they need not only to solve this case. But also at the same time try to mend some fences and move forward. I mean, I'm not deep inside the community enough to be able to say on behalf of the community going. But I. Just over in the periphery having covered some of the stuff that is a little bit of what's happening. Take me inside the courtroom yesterday. What happened? Well, it was you know, it's really interesting if we could just go maybe two a day before that sure it was kind of surprising because I like I said, I've covered almost everyone of the hearings and even the last year which was just a couple of weeks ago is early this year Lee twenty nineteen the lawyers had said in the in the detectives had said that oh there's no plea yet. And in Canadian law plea, generally happens closer to trial date, just kind of the weeks and months leading up to trial the trial date had been set for January of twenty twenty. So we felt that a plea could come in a guilty. Plea could come but not until probably much later this year. So on Monday afternoon when police ended up that release that said just a heads up for the media. There's going to be a significant development tomorrow and to most of us that meant that a plea was coming in most likely a guilty plea. It was pretty surprising. I mean, it kind of caught a lot of us off guard that that's how quickly it was going to happen. And then in the courtroom, they had put us in the largest courtroom in the province because they clearly were expecting. There to be a a large crowd. And there was pretty much every seat was full. So was there's obviously a lot of journalists. But there was also lots of friends and family of the victims a lot of the police officers that worked on this case. The detectives the ones that were at Mallory doing all the digging and the excavating and a lot of the groundwork where there so there was a lot of people who had a lot invested in this outcome in the courtroom. And it was very interesting to see the procedure because I've never been there for an actual. I've inner for a guilty verdict of never been there for guilty plea, and it was interesting because going into the courtroom, nobody would confirm that out. So it's going to happen. So we all kind of expected it to happen. But when the judge finally kind of he kind of rolled into very nonchalantly this judge that was up there. He's kind of stuff covered cases where he's he's been up there, and he's very in control. But he's also very relaxed when he does it. So there's no like big dramatics when he does he's very calm. Very casual. And you know, he kind of MacArthur was standing there in the in the holding box, and he just said to him. Okay. We understand you want to plead guilty. And that was the. Time for us that we had heard it. So we all kind of like sat up, you know. It's like, oh that's interesting, and he basically outlined for MacArthur. He said before you do it. I have to kind of give you the rules. So I have to explain to you that you do not have to do this. You have every right to go to trial stand trial, and then have the verdict came out. And he said she said, so you're waving that you understand that. He said, yes, I understand. He said nobody is making you do this. You're doing this of your own volition? He said, yes, I understand. He said, do you understand that by pleading guilty here that you are essentially agreeing to a life sentence in prison because that is the automatic conviction for a first degree murder. He said, yes, I understand that. So we kind of laid all these rules for them. Right. And then he said, okay. As long as we have all that understood that you know, what you're doing. You're doing it on your own sound mind in judgment. Then you know, the core. I don't know what position yet, but somebody in the court in the courtroom, basically, then reads out all the charges one by one. So he wrote the dates the times the names of each of the victims and then asked him on this count. How do you plead on this can how do you plead in each time MacArthur in kind of a very soft? Voice said guilty each time. And so it was a kind of surreal in a lot of ways to see it. Because I don't think since he was arrested. There's never been any doubt that he did it right because police were very confident. I think they had all the information. You know, they had all the evidence all the stuff for Mallory. So as a pretty open and shut case that he he he was the one responsible, but it was still very strange to see him up there and confessed to it and really kind of seemingly out of nowhere because even afterwards detective Dickinson who was one of the lead detective on the case along with inspector and Singa. So that we may never know what his motive was or why he came forward, and and just decided to plea who were the victims because I feel like we're going to say Bruce mcarthur's name fifty thousand times today and nobody's saying name. And I I feel the same way, you know, I it's having covered this a lot. I try as much as I can to put the names of the victims and their because you know, they're the real not only victims here with the story as well. Yeah, they they should be the story. So their names are Cerruti scandal. Never Ratnam of the Besir fi. Karuna Canagaratnam Salim s Andrew kinsman Cayenne and dean, little wick. So those are eight men murdered over the course of seven years between two thousand ten and two thousand seventeen most of them with connections to Tronto gay village and from the LGBTQ community some of them had been in Canada for a long time. Some of them had only been here for a short time MacArthur, basically set up meetings with them and took advantage of them. And and committed murder, you mentioned how much evidence there was. Yeah. What does it mean? And how important is it that there won't be a trial? You know, I think it means a lot I just from a personal point of view as somebody who's covered murder trials covered. Some pretty heavy stuff before you know. I was covered some of the Malarde hearing covered the Mark mood. So hearing from start to finish. I was there for some of the Tori, Stafford stuff that stuff can be very graphic, very emotional and very heavy on your brain on your heart on your soul. Really? If you have to sit there and here, and that's just as a reporter. On the periphery kind of just hearing the details. But if you're if you're a juror just an average person from the public who's pulled in from this out of your, you know, you have no choice in the matter years kind of pulled in as as a civic duty and your put on that jury. If you're a lawyer, if you're somebody who has to be part of the courtroom staff, if you're a judge any one of those people, and that's to say, nothing of the family and the friends of the victims who are the real people you have to think about an scenario like this. So the fact that none of those people, particularly the family and friends have to sit there and here day by day because that trial was suppose was expected to last three or four months. Yeah. So that would've been three to four months of every day reliving part of that story. And we still will hear some of that stuff when they read the statements of fact next week when he goes when he goes back to court next week, but it won't have to be on a day by day basis for four months. You told us about the mood inside the courthouse as soon as that court, let out what was the mood outside. Like, what are how are people reacting? Are they are they relieved because I feel like yeah. I feel like. The city is relieved. I think relief is is a good word to pick. A a lot of people are relieved a relieved in a lotta ways. So I you know, I was looking at a lot of the Toronto police officers a lot of the detectives they seem to have a weight off their shoulders. They know their work is done just yet. But you know, I think they're relieved that they don't have to go through this whole process over the next year and a bit that they've been able to bring some relief to the families. Because even though I would I would guess that most of the families of these victims know that MacArthur, did it it's another thing for him to stand up and say, I did it. Yeah. You know? And that he didn't even have to be convicted that he stood up and said, Yep. I'm the one that did it. So there is a certain amount of I think relief that comes with that. I don't know about closure. I think closure can take a lot of time in several years. But in the immediate aftermath when we walked out into the hallway right outside the courtroom. You could see a lot of people breathing easy. I did see a few people leaving the courtroom with tears in their eyes, and those are some of their friends and families of those victims. Understandably it's a lot to handle especially since they read those brief statement of facts with some of those kind of. Really disturbing details in it. And then outside the courtroom, you know, detective Dickinson talk to us. We also spoke to the woman who owns the house on Mallory crescent, and she was so well-spoken and eloquent and well-thought-out. I don't know if I believe in the word closure. I think possibly easing is all all you get. For me closure won't happen. The way I'm trying to look at it. The man, I knew actually didn't exist. So that's the best. I can go with this is someone else entirely. Her name is Karen Frazier and she lives with her partner and she lives in that house for years. She is sort of one of the people that is sort of almost an accidental victim. And all this. You know, of course, the eight men who were murder the actual victims, and their families are the ones that are suffering, but for her she just kind of like an accidental victim because she had struck up this kind of agreement of relationship with MacArthur where like they would go away and MacArthur rich take care of the property when they would go to their cottage. And of course, he completely used her to to hide these victims and stuff like that. But you know, she had the misfortune of meeting a couple of the men that were murdered and and having to live on this now infamous property and to her credit. She's really trying to take ownership back of it. You know in a in a sort of figuratively, obviously, she still owns the property, but she's trying to make it that it's not just the property where McArthur hid the bodies of these eight victims of the remains of these. Victims that it's her home. That's a house of love. I can't remember what exactly it says. But she painted this beautiful kind of statement on her garage about love and kindness. You know last week on the one year anniversary of MacArthur's arrest. You had a a lone bagpiper common play on her driveway and invited all the reporters to come out. And the few people spoke what's going on in the community on church street because that's been a I mean, if it's been awful on anybody besides the families, it's been that community. Yeah. I mean that entire community. No I for for for years. There's been talking about this like we mentioned, you know, they've had a bit of a fractured relationship with police, and well, they were yelling about throw people going missing you ever months and year. Really? Yeah. And especially in the early months of this of this stuff. So I remember in January February March of last year, there was a lot of people that would come to the first few hearings for MacArthur, not only to see him. See what he looks like? And be a part b. For the hearings, but also to speak to us afterwards because they wanted to voice their displeasure with the with the police and kind of say we've been telling you for how long that this is a problem. So now that he's pled guilty. I think that it will be really interesting to see how the community reacts to this. How they go forward. How the relationship with Toronto polices. I think the chief chief Mark Saunders is very aware that that relationship is fractured at the moment. You know? Of course, we add in as an adjacent thing to what's happening with pride and uniformed officers not being allowed to March. So how closely are those two things tied together. Because it feels like a lot of the lot of the relationship between our on both sides. Yeah. I don't I don't know. Like, I mean, I'm not a member of that community. So it's it's hard for me to say, I don't think you can say, they're unrelated. But I don't know that they're completely joined at the hip either. But I mean, look those are two prominent things that affect the same community in our city, and they kind of tie into the same thing in the sense that people from the LGBTQ community feel that they're. With Toronto police in the way, they're treated with Toronto police isn't what it should be or exactly what it should be. Or isn't where it needs to be. And that it needs to get to that place. But it's not going to get to that place overnight. And it's going to take time I interviewed Olivia who is the executive director of pride last week. And she said, look, it's we've closed the door for twenty nine hundred police uniformed officers will not take part in this year's parade. And we don't know about the future. But we want to have that dialogue and work, really hard. So in this case with with the MacArthur investigation now admission of guilt, I imagine it's also the same thing that it'll take time. The police can't snap their fingers and make it happen. And nor does the community, you know, have to open their hearts right away and forgive. Yes. It it'll take time it'll take time. And and it's not for me or anybody else who is a straight or not of that community to say that they should hurry it up. It's you got they got there when they got there. And they gotta work it out with Toronto police on their own even beyond the church community. This seemed like a crime that kind of horrified everybody why did? Everybody in Toronto become captivated by the MacArthur case. Yeah, this is certainly one that gripped everybody. I don't think only in the city, I think really coast to coast. Yeah. But particularly in the city for obvious reasons. I mean, look LGBTQ community because it directly impacted them and members of their community, then you have to remember that MacArthur was a landscaper. So he was working at dozens of properties across the GTE. So it's it's possible. If you own a home in Scarborough or Togo or new market or wherever he possibly did work on your property in are there if you had kids, and they were running around playing outside or something. And he was there, you know, let's kind of thing that can potentially keep you up at night, or at least give you the shivers was entwined with the city. Yeah. He was he was a mall Santa in twenty seventeen weeks before he was arrested for murder. He was the mall Santa at age Cornell and Scarborough, so there is parents out there who potentially had his photo up on their fridge with their kids sitting on his lap. You know, and then, you know, just two or three weeks later you're looking at. That photo. And that guy is in prison awaiting trial for murder. I it's it's one of those things that can really rattle your rain and kind of scare you in effect you and even if you weren't directly impacted by the landscaping or the mall Santa or being part of the Q community. He has that we've all seen that photo of him smiling. Niagara Falls, you know, he just looks like a guy that, you know, even people that knew him say that he was really friendly guy. He's a really jovial guy. So it kind of creates that you do you really ever know somebody what is a lesson that the police the city and everyone else can take away from how this happened. And why it was so long to be discovered. Vo, you know. I think I think there's lots of lessons that can be learned in even detective Dickinson side that there's a lot of lessons to be learned. I think you know, they have to really work on Trump has to work on the relationship with the LGBTQ community. I think that when people are making those types of cries, maybe you have to really look seriously at it a little quicker, and I mean, it's easy for us to say because we're not sure on police, right? We don't know how often people are calling them saying that something's going. When someone goes missing, everybody calls, the police, sure. But it's it's there's there's a lot to be learned here in terms of heating people's warnings paying attention to certain communities police once they were on MacArthur trailed really did a good job in terms of tracking down and arresting them. And and you know, all the evidence they put together. But I think this is a case that isn't closed by any means because even you know detective Dickinson talked about how they're still looking into cold cases. They're still talking to other jurisdictions because they don't know because MacArthur hasn't really helped them out. That was my next question. Right. So he pled guilty to eight murders. Right for almost a year. We kept hearing the police are back searching for more remains in. There may be more victims does that stop. Now what happens next? So a number of times over the last year or some of my colleagues when inspector it's anger has spoken to us. Have asked is MacArthur being helpful, and he doesn't ever want to talk about it? He's never really addressed that question at least in any of the scrums that I've been in. And I think. That's partly because MacArthur wasn't being helpful right? And wasn't telling them anything. But now that he's confessed to it. And and pled guilty. It's possible that could change. I don't know. I'm not on the inside. But I know he didn't really he didn't from what I know. He didn't really help them out a lot over the past year. And that's why they were going through one hundred different properties. That's not. That's not a exaggeration that has an actual number. They were looking at over one hundred properties and the GTA and just beyond the way that he had worked at if he had helped them probably wouldn't have been that big of a number not to say that you should necessarily take the words of of an accused killer. As fact, but I mean, I don't think he was really helping narrow it down. So I mean, I guess I Trump lease may get some help from him. Or maybe this is all he did like just just he he committed eight murders. And and that's where the list stops. But I guess time will really tell and the agreed statement of facts will be out next week sometime. So next week's going to be a big week in a very emotional week. It was a little emotional in the courtroom. But next week they're gonna do the the restatement of facts, which is going to be very Indy. Detail about the eight different murders. What happened how it happened? You know, all that kind of stuff and then also family members and friends will get and read what's called a victim impact statement. And that will to address it directly to Bruce MacArthur. He is also I believe that appoint gonna be able to allow to get up and speak. Whether he will won't we don't know. So it's going to be very very emotional. That's expected to last three days next week. And then after that, the judge will decide what the sentence will be an he'll come back at a later date and decide what the sentence is. And they can decide to do a consecutive a concurrent, right? Some some mishmash of that. Either way. Whatever the decision is made. It is highly highly highly highly unlikely that Bruce MacArthur will ever get parole to walk up the doors of a prison. Whether he gets one my sentence or doesn't matter. He's never coming up. Thanks moment. You're thinking. Momen Karachi is a six eighty news reporter. That was the big story. Brought to you by Scotia. I trade you can visit Scotia TriCalm to start direct investing today, and you can visit us at the big story podcast dot CA, or along with our brother and sister shows at frequency podcast network dot com. You can hit up contact us forms on both those websites to tell us about stories. We should be covering. I'm jordan. He throwing thanks for listening. We'll talk tomorrow.