Police investigated alleged serial killer for months before arrest
Published Tuesday, June 5, 2018 8:35AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 5, 2018 7:03PM EDT
Hundreds of pages of newly released police documents show that Toronto police had been actively investigating accused serial killer Bruce McArthur for at least five months prior to his arrest on Jan. 18.
The documents also show that investigators obtained a general warrant for McArthur’s apartment on Dec. 4 -- four days before Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters that “the evidence to date tells us that there is not a serial killer.”
McArthur is the 66-year-old landscaper who is currently facing eight first-degree murder charges in the deaths of eight men who went missing between 2010 and 2017. Most of the victims had ties to the city’s gay village.
Candace Shaw, a neighbor of alleged victim Andrew Kinsmen, says she is upset that police appeared to be “poo-pooing the notion that there was a serial killer at work” even after they had obtained a warrant to search his apartment.
Police Chief Mark Saunders, meanwhile, says he stands behind his words.
“I did not mislead anybody with what I said,” Saunders said Tuesday.
“Follow exactly what I said,” he added. “Don’t interpret what I said and you’ll understand that what I said was accurate, was truthful and in no way was meant to mislead the public in any way, shape or form.”
The partially redacted documents were released Monday to several media outlets, including CTV Toronto. They show that Toronto police applied for what’s known as “production orders” as early as August, 2017, as part of their investigation.
Such orders are signed by judges and compel organizations such as banks and phone companies to hand over documents to investigators.
The documents show that in August and September, 2017, police were granted production orders for Google, Rogers, Bell, Telus, Royal Bank, and Manulife Bank.
In October, further production orders were approved for Transunion Bank, the Bank of Nova Scotia, TD Bank, and Pink Triangle Press – a publisher that specializes in LGBT material.
Then, in November, police obtained a tracking warrant for an unknown subject. Former Toronto police homicide detective Mark Mendelson told CTV Toronto that such warrants allow police to physically track a suspect without risking the prospect of being discovered.
“Once the suspect realizes they are being followed, they change their habits completely,” he said.
“These types of tracking warrants allow the police to allow GPS devices on vehicles -- whether it’s a car or a bicycle or a motorcycle -- in order to track those movements lawfully.”
On Dec. 4, 2017, investigators obtained the general warrant for McArthur’s apartment. According to Mendelson, that kind of warrant gives police the right to search for such things as fingerprints, hair samples, bodily fluids, computer data, pictures and video.
The documents obtained by CTV Toronto were unsealed by a judge after a media consortium that included CTV appealed for access. Large portions of the documents, which are called ITOs, or “information to obtain” documents, remain sealed. Those redacted portions include what evidence led to the warrant authorizations and what investigators were searching for.
Police wrapped up their investigation at McArthur’s apartment in early May, and say they have collected more than 1,800 exhibits of evidence and taken 18,000 photos.
The remains of at least seven of the men that McArthur is accused of murdering were located in planters on a Leaside property where he worked as a landscaper.
Last week, police completed a canine search of more than 100 other properties connected to the case.
McArthur’s next scheduled court appearance is on June 22.
None of the allegations against him have been proven in court.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Scott Lightfoot