Investigators have set up a large green tent in the backyard of a home where murder suspect Bruce McArthur stored his landscaping equipment where they hope to thaw the ground enough to begin excavating the property.

Bruce McArthur has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder connected to the cases of missing men in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village.

Officers have taken a particular interest in the backyard of a home in the Toronto neighbourhood of Leaside where McArthur stored equipment for his landscaping business. Police say the remains of three bodies have been found in planters on the property and ground-penetrating radar has determined some soil in the backyard has been disturbed.

Since at least Wednesday, officers have been seen bringing fuel tanks to the backyard, which are used to heat the ground. Det Sgt. Hank Idsinga told reporters on Wednesday he hopes investigators can begin excavating the property by the end of the week or early next week.

In speaking with CTV Toronto, Scott Fairgrieve, a forensic science professor at Laurentian University, described the process of excavating a property in the winter.

“You have to have a lot of heat that is concentrated and being directed and blown down onto the soil in order for you to excavate, otherwise it would be like digging through concrete,” he said.

“You have to be careful of the excavation process because you do not want your trowel to damage (the site).”

The search for evidence in the case has expanded to more than 30 homes associated with McArthur’s landscaping business and officers will continue to search McArthur’s apartment “for quite some time,” Idsinga said.

On Wednesday, officers seized about a dozen other planters from other properties connected to McArthur’s landscaping business. Investigators have also expanded their investigation outside of Toronto. Police are now looking at missing persons cases where people travelled to Toronto and never returned home. They are also looking at places McArthur travelled to.

The five murder charges against McArthur come without much in the way of DNA evidence, which leads former homicide detective and CP24 crime specialist Steve Ryan to speculate there must be some other sound evidence to link McArthur to the five victims.

“They’ve laid five charges without five bodies, that tells me they’ve got some sort of photographic evidence that suggests that there was five men killed that they’ve identified,” he told CTV News on Thursday.