Documents reveal wrong steps in early investigation of Toronto Gay Village murders
Warning: This story contains disturbing details.
An early investigation into the disappearances of three men from Toronto’s Gay Village led police to explore the possibility that they had been cannibalized by a suspect who lived minutes away from convicted killer Luka Magnotta.
- Read more on CTV Toronto: Police searched near Mallory Crescent property 2 months before McArthur was arrested
The disturbing revelations were made public Monday, after more than 6,500 pages of court documents containing details of the Bruce McArthur investigation were released.
The documents revealed that before McArthur became the main suspect in the case, the investigators were following James Alex Brunton, a 65-year-old retiree in Peterborough, Ont., who had an extensive online presence where he claimed to have engaged in cannibalism.
After a tip from police in Switzerland led them to believe Brunton may have played a role in the disappearance of Skanda Navaratnam -- now known as one of McArthur’s victims -- they spent months surveilling him.
At one point, police investigated a potential link between Brunton and convicted killer Luka Magnotta, who was convicted of killing and dismembering Chinese student Jun Lin in December 2014. The men lived within minutes of each other at one point in time.
Brunton never faced charges in the disappearance of Navaratnam, and police determined his comments about cannibalism were just fantasy. But he was eventually arrested on 62 charges of making, possessing, and distributing child pornography. He pleaded guilty to seven of those counts.
Details of his forays on cannibal fantasy websites and the initial tip that sparked the investigation were explored by W5’s Avery Haines last September.
Documents provide new details into McArthur investigation
Lawyers for CTV News, along with several other media outlets, spent months arguing in court to have the documents unsealed and released publicly.
The documents also show that a search of the property where the remains of the men McArthur was convicted of killing came up empty two months before McArthur was arrested.
During the search, cadaver dogs found no evidence of human remains; however, in the days following McArthur’s arrest, a subsequent search found the remains of eight missing men.
Police also applied for warrants to track and surveil the phones and vehicles of at least four other people in connection with the McArthur investigation. One of those people was a fellow landscaper and long-time friend of McArthur.
In January 2019, McArthur pleaded guilty to of first-degree murder for men he killed between 2010 and 2017. He was sentenced to life in prison, and will not be eligible for parole until he is 91-years-old.