A new true-crime documentary that promises to shed light on one of Toronto's most notorious serial killers is finally making its debut in Canada.
Catching a Serial Killer: Bruce McArthur digs into the investigation that ultimately led to his arrest. In 2019, McArthur pleaded guilty to murdering eight men who frequented the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood in Toronto, an area known as the gay village.
Ahead of the premiere, we've rounded up some of the most shocking details revealed about the investigation in the new crime doc.
1. The investigation started as a possible cannibalism case
In 2012, Interpol (the International Criminal Police Organization) contacted the Toronto Police Service (TPS) to warn them of a potential cannibal operating out of the GTA. According to Interpol, an internet user was frequenting cannibal-fetish websites and had confessed to killing and eating men in the Toronto area.
"When you're first told that, it's unbelievable, it's like, 'A cannibal, really?'" Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga said in the documentary. "Then, hold up, well, actually we do have a missing man from Toronto that fits the profile this person is talking about," he added.
The shocking tip prompted TPS to launch an investigation into the three missing men from Toronto and call it Project Houston.
2. McArthur was interviewed by police years before his arrest
TPS brought McArthur in for questioning about the missing men in November 2013 as part of Project Houston. However, police didn't actually suspect him at the time. He was interviewed again three years later in 2016 after a man accused McArthur of strangling him in the back of his van, but no charges were laid.
3. He worked as a mall Santa in Scarborough
According to the documentary, Bruce McArthur actually led a "double life." This was best exemplified by McArthur's seasonal job as a mall Santa at Agincourt Mall in Scarborough.
Catching A Serial Killer Bruce McArthur | April 2021 youtu.be
4. He ditched the van Toronto police were tailing
McArthur drove a 2004 red Dodge Caravan during the time he committed various assaults and murders. TPS began to tail the van as part of their late-stage investigation before McArthur sold it to an auto-wrecking shop in Courtice, Ontario — for a staggeringly low $125. Luckily, police were able to recover the vehicle and the evidence inside it.
5. McArthur almost discovered police searching his home
According to the Toronto Star's crime reporter, Wendy Gillis, in Catching A Serial Killer, police gained their first warrant to search McArthur's apartment in December 2017. They chose an afternoon they assumed McArthur would be working in the east end of the city, landscaping. But as officers began scanning McArthur's computer for evidence, surveillance alerted them that he was actually on his way home. TPS was forced to make a quick getaway before being found by McArthur.
6. He buried human remains in planters and kept them strangely close
It has become common knowledge that McArthur used his landscaping job as a means to dispose of body parts, burying them in planters throughout the city. But perhaps lesser known is that McArthur arranged flowerpots filled with remains around a table he ate at multiple times with his landscaping crew at 53 Mallory Cres. in Toronto.
"He ate at my table enjoying the fact that his handiwork was all around him. I don't even know how to form a reaction to that. It's not human to me," said Karen Fraser, a former friend and client of McArthur's.
7. The arrest was a very strange scene
When Toronto police finally moved to arrest McArthur, officers were forced to cram into the only working elevator of his high-rise building in Toronto and waited as it carried them, slowly, to the 19th floor.
"We packed in there like sardines and made our way very slowly to the 19th floor, stopping on every third floor," said Detective David Dickinson in the documentary.
At the time, police were aware of a potential victim in McArthur's apartment and so time was of the essence. When officers made it to McArthur's apartment, they found a man tied and bound on McArthur's bed. McArthur was quickly arrested and the man, who might have been the ninth victim, was freed of his restraints.
Catching a Serial Killer: Bruce McArthur premieres on April 30 at 9 p.m. ET, and you can watch it on Super Channel Fuse or on Super Channel Demand.