World / Crime & Legal

Accused Toronto serial killer of eight was deemed not dangerous in 2001 run-in with law: media


A psychiatric assessment of a Canadian landscaper now accused of serial killings targeting Toronto’s gay community concluded, after his first run-in with the law in 2001, that he was not dangerous, Canadian media reported Thursday.

Bruce McArthur, 66, was arrested in January and charged with the murders of eight men, most of whose dismembered body parts were found hidden inside planters belonging to the accused.

According to a psychological assessment after he pleaded guilty in the 2001 beating of a male prostitute with a metal pipe — nearly two decades before his recent arrest — McArthur had not acknowledged his sexual orientation until he was in his 40s, the media reports said.

The psychologist who evaluated him said he likely harbored “underlying resentments,” but concluded his risk for violence was “very minimal.”

A sentencing report in the 2001 assault case was equally positive.

“We are not alleging a worst-case scenario where Mr McArthur was roaming the streets as a violent predator,” prosecutor Michael Leshner reportedly told the court in 2003.

McArthur had pleaded guilty to assault in that case but received no jail time. He later asked for and was granted a pardon, and the conviction was wiped from the official record.

The Globe and Mail newspaper and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation went to court to gain access to the two sealed reports.

Both news outlets said McArthur had chosen to ignore his attraction to other men while growing up on an Ontario farm.

He eventually married and had two children.

After the couple split in 1997, he embraced his sexual orientation.

The investigation into his alleged 2010 to 2017 serial killings has expanded to include more than 75 properties in the Toronto area where McArthur did some landscaping work.

Police have also reopened 15 cold cases dating back to 1975 for possible links to McArthur, who was arrested after coming under suspicion in a probe of missing persons from Toronto’s Gay Village.

According to local media, police made a quick decision to enter McArthur’s apartment and arrest him on Jan. 18 when they saw a young man enter his home. The police found the man tied up on a bed, but unharmed.