In light of the recent allegations surrounding suspected serial killer Bruce McArthur, The New York Post released a feature that compared the Toronto Gay Village murders to Stephen King’s “The Lawnmower Man,” and the similarities are uncanny.
In the grisly short story, a suburban homeowner is dismembered and killed by a nymphomaniac landscaper who was hired to cut his overgrown lawn. When detectives arrive at the scene to investigate, they discover the victim’s remains in a bird bath and scattered all over the freshly cut grass in the backyard.
“While King’s story is the stuff of fiction, a real-life version seems to be playing amid the manicured lawns and neat flower boxes of Canada’s largest city, where officials are digging for human remains after the arrest of a landscape contractor last month,” writes the New York Post. “McArthur dismembered his victims and hid their remains in planters, police say. He may have also buried them in the lawns he tended for his clients throughout the city and its environs.”
Though McArthur was charged with the murder of five men, there could be many more victims. Not much evidence regarding McArthur’s motives and detailed methods have been released because the case is tightly held under a court-ordered publication ban, but many reports from sources say McArthur was very methodical and took steps to cover his tracks.
Toronto police managed to identify 30 properties in the city where McArthur has worked, with one residence — 53 Mallory Crescent — housing the skeletal remains of three individuals in backyard planters stored in a garage.
The owners of the residence were Karen Fraser and Ron Smith, an elderly couple who knew McArthur personally and allowed him to store his landscaping equipment in their garage over the past decade. They were presented a warrant and the police immediately searched the property, using a generator to thaw the frozen ground for excavation.
Amid their shock, they mentioned how they had no clue McArthur was up to such horrifying things. Fraser said that he had been “kind, helpful, helped with [their] charity work, doing floral gifts for silent auctions” and that he often “went above and beyond” their original arrangement of just cutting the grass.
“There’s a beautiful Christmas arrangement . . . [that] just showed up . . . a week before Christmas made by him,” she explains.
Others who knew McArthur were also shocked at the news, mentioning that he grew up a family man with his wife and two kids, played Santa at the local mall every year, and even took up decorative baking as a hobby after he retired from his past job as a traveling sock salesman. But he had been living a double-life that not many people knew about, one that involved frequent trips to Toronto’s Gay Village District and online cruising on a leather BDSM site under the moniker “Silverfoxx.”
In 2001, McArthur was arrested for beating a man with a metal pipe at a downtown LGBT bar. This was perhaps one of the early indications of his violent behaviour. He was sentenced to attend anger management classes after the incident, but they didn’t seem effective in controlling his rage. Many men who have had encounters with him have said he was disturbingly aggressive in the way he physically interacted with them.
The police had followed McArthur for months, and had their first big break last October when they found traces of blood in a minivan McArthur had sold to a local. On Jan. 18, they arrested him after spotting him with entering his apartment with a younger man and fearing for his safety.
Now, five identified victims later, police are still unsettled with the thought that there could be several more victims. Since McArthur used to travel a lot for his job, they fear there could be more victims beyond Toronto. He also identified himself as “sexually versatile,” which could indicate female victims as well.