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Anti-Gay Bias Led to ‘Serious Flaws’ in Toronto Serial Killer Investigation

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Officials are questioning the investigation and capture of Toronto’s most prolific serial killer Bruce McArthur.

What We Know:

  • Between 2010 and 2017, Bruce McArthur preyed primarily on gay and bisexual men of color in the neighborhood of Church and Wellesley in Toronto, Canada. He was taken into custody in January of 2018 and in 2019, McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder. He is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
  • The criminal investigation into McArthur was the largest ever conducted by the Toronto Police Service, forcing the unit to call on the help and resources of surrounding police forces and forensic services. Although the 69-year-old serial killer has been put behind bars, critics of the investigation argue that McArthur could have been caught much sooner.
  • Gloria Epstein, a retired Ontario Court of Appeal justice, cited “systemic bias” and “serious flaws” in the handling of the victims’ missing person cases. Her independent review of the case argues that LGBTQ “misconceptions” and “stereotypical ideas” led police to overlook evidence and miss essential connections during their investigation into the missing men and their connection to Bruce McArthur.
  • Epstein’s research into the investigation incorporated 151 recommendations to help improve missing person investigations, including the help of social services. “There was institutional resistance to the notion that these cases might be linked and that a serial killer might be preying on Toronto’s LGBTQ communities. This systemic failure is perhaps the most troubling,” she added.

The Toronto Police Services Board has formed a branch dedicated to missing persons in response to the backlash.

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