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A timeline of the Bruce McArthur case and the police investigation into the Gay Village killings

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On a grey Thursday in January, Toronto police made one of the biggest arrests in the city’s history.

Apprehended from a Thorncliffe Park apartment complex was Bruce McArthur, a self-employed landscaper. Police had uncovered evidence they alleged implicated him in the deaths of two missing men from Toronto’s Gay Village, Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Selim Esen, 44.

Bruce McArthur's alleged victims. They are, top, from left to right: Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, Majeed Kayhan, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam and Abdulbasir Faizi. And bottom, from left to right: Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick and Andrew Kinsman.
Bruce McArthur’s alleged victims. They are, top, from left to right: Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, Majeed Kayhan, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam and Abdulbasir Faizi. And bottom, from left to right: Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick and Andrew Kinsman.  (Star Wire Services)

At a press conference announcing the arrest, police said they believed there were more victims.

Over the next three months, McArthur, 67, would be charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of six more men: Majeed Kayhan, 58; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; Dean Lisowick, 47; Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, 40, Abdulbasir Faizi, 42, and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, 37.

The sprawling, months-long police probe has seen the largest forensic investigation in Toronto’s history, and resulted in the discovery of dismembered, skeletal human remains buried in large planters on a Leaside property.

The arrest of an alleged serial killer came after long-held speculation in the Church-Wellesley community that a murderer was in their midst — a concern met with denial by police until just weeks before McArthur was arrested. As questions mounted about whether an arrest could have been made sooner, an independent review has been launched into the Toronto police handling of missing person’s cases.

Below is a detailed account of key dates in the ongoing investigation.

The Star intends to update this story as the Bruce McArthur case unfolds:

Oct. 2001: McArthur, 50, attacks a man midday inside the victim’s apartment in the Gay Village. McArthur strikes the man numerous times with a metal pipe. The victim, who has advertised in gay publications as a male hustler, calls 911 and is taken to hospital. McArthur goes to police headquarters to say he may have hurt someone and doesn’t know why he did it.

Jan. – April 2003: McArthur pleads guilty to assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm in the 2001 attack, his first criminal conviction. He later receives a conditional sentence of two years less a day, and three years’ probation. As part of his probation, he is barred from an area of the city that includes the Gay Village and from spending time with “male prostitutes.” He is also ordered to have a sample of DNA taken and added to a database. He later obtains a pardon for the conviction.

Sept. 2010: Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, 40, goes missing after he is seen leaving Zipperz, a now-closed bar at Church and Carlton Sts., with an unknown man. Speaking anonymously, a source tells Xtra that McArthur once dated Navaratnam, who is originally from Sri Lanka, beginning around 1999. The two men were listed as friends on Facebook.

Police later allege McArthur killed Navaratnam on or about Sept. 6.

Dec. 2010: Abdulbasir Faizi, a 42-year-old machine operator at a printing company in Mississauga, is reported missing to Peel Regional Police. His car is later found abandoned in Toronto, in the area of St. Clair Ave. E. and Mount Pleasant Rd.

Police later allege McArthur killed Faizi on or about Dec. 29, 2010, according to court documents.

Oct. 2012: Majeed Kayhan, a 58-year-old Afghan immigrant, disappears and is reported missing by his son.

Police later allege McArthur killed Kayhan “on or about” Oct. 18, 2012.

Nov. 2012: Toronto police in downtown’s 51 division launch Project Houston, an investigation into the disappearances of Navaratnam, Kayhan, and Faizi.

Late 2012 – June 2013: During Project Houston, Toronto police find some evidence Navaratnam has been murdered. Investigators from the homicide squad join the case, pursuing evidence including the suggestion Navaratnam had been the victim of a cannibalism ring. That evidence is discounted — and the investigation continues without the involvement of the homicide squad.

April 2014: Project Houston ends. McArthur was never a suspect in the investigation, but sources will later tell the Star he was questioned by police around the time of Project Houston.

Aug. 2015: Soroush Mahmudi, a 50-year-old professional painter, is last seen alive by his home near Markham Rd. and Blakemanor Blvd. in Scarborough. He is reported missing by his family.

Police later allege McArthur killed Mahmudi on or about Aug. 15.

Late 2015: Police later allege McArthur kills Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, 37, sometime between September 2015 and December 2015.

Kanagaratnam, a refugee from Sri Lanka, had never been reported missing.

2016: Toronto police question McArthur after a man reports that McArthur attempted to strangle him during an otherwise consensual encounter, according to sources who spoke to the Star. McArthur is let go.

April 2016: Dean Lisowick checks into the Scott Mission shelter in Toronto for the last time.

Police later allege McArthur killed Lisowick between April 2016 and March 2017.

April 2017: Selim Esen, a 44-year-old Turkish citizen, goes missing.

Police later allege McArthur killed Esen on or about April 16, 2017.

June 2017: Andrew Kinsman, a 49-year-old Cabbagetown resident, goes missing. Investigators will later confirm that Kinsman and McArthur had a sexual relationship.

Police later allege McArthur killed Kinsman on or about June 26.

Two pages from a production order Toronto police filed in Sept. 2017. The heavily redacted document was one of several ordered unsealed in October.
Two pages from a production order Toronto police filed in Sept. 2017. The heavily redacted document was one of several ordered unsealed in October.

Aug. 2017: Toronto police launch Project Prism, a probe into the disappearances of Esen and Kinsman. Investigators from downtown’s 51 division and other units are brought in, and information is shared from Project Houston.

Sept. 2017: McArthur becomes a person of interest in Kinsman’s death, launching a probe into McArthur that would include surveillance of his vehicle and a team of officers tracking him around the GTA.

Nov. 2017: Police uncover evidence suggesting Kinsman has likely been murdered and McArthur is a suspect. Part of their investigation includes seizing McArthur’s rusted maroon Dodge Caravan from Dom’s Auto Parts in Courtice, just outside Oshawa.

Unsealed court documents later reveal that Kinsman’s blood was found inside one of McArthur’s vehicles.

Dec. 2017: Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders downplays the suggestion of a serial killer in the Gay Village, as concerns mount about a growing list of people disappearing from the area.

A police spokesperson says there is “no evidence — let me repeat, no evidence” linking any of the disappearances. Homicide investigators, meanwhile, obtain authorization to surreptitiously enter McArthur’s home and clone his computer in connection to Kinsman’s death.

Jan. 18, 2018: McArthur is under police surveillance when officers observe a young man entering his apartment and intervene. The man is found tied up but unharmed.

McArthur is arrested and charged with the murders of Esen and Kinsman. The charges are made possible after police uncover evidence that “pushed the case over the edge,” says Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga, the lead detective on the case. Investigators believe there are other victims and reveal they are searching properties linked to McArthur, in Toronto and Madoc, Ont.

Jan. 29, 2018: McArthur is charged in the deaths of three more men: Kayhan, Mahmudi, and Lisowick. Idsinga reveals police discovered the dismembered, skeletal remains of three unidentified people buried inside planters at a Leaside home where McArthur worked as a landscaper. Investigators seize more than a dozen large planters from the property in search of more human remains.

Feb. 8, 2018: Toronto police reveal that the remains of at least six people have been recovered from a private property at 53 Mallory Cres., a Leaside home owned by Karen Fraser and Ron Smith. The remains of Kinsman are identified through fingerprint evidence.

A few days later, after heating and excavating frozen earth in the backyard, police say they will halt digging but may return when the weather is warmer.

Feb. 23, 2018: McArthur is charged with Navaratnam’s murder. Navaratnam’s remains were among the dismembered human remains recovered inside the planters, identified through dental records.

The charge means McArthur is now accused of killing two of the three men whose disappearances were probed during Project Houston. Mahmudi’s remains have also been identified through dental records, police reveal.

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March 5, 2018: In a rare move, Toronto police release a photo of a dead, unidentified man who they believe is a seventh victim of McArthur. The image is a close-up of a deceased man with dark skin, black hair and a beard. Investigators “cleaned up” the photo to “remove some artifacts,” Idsinga says.

Police also reveal that a seventh set of human remains have been uncovered in the Mallory Cres. planters. The discovery means four outstanding sets of human remains are undergoing forensic DNA testing to be identified.

March 6, 2018: The Star reveals that an internal police misconduct investigation has begun in connection with a past police interaction with McArthur. Idsinga tells the Star he initiated a complaint into “concerning” behaviour of officers who “potentially did not do what they were supposed to have done,” but does not provide any detail.

March 22, 2018: In the wake of mounting questions about past handling of the McArthur investigation, the Toronto police board commissions an external review of how Toronto police handle missing-persons cases — though the probe cannot directly examine the McArthur case because of the ongoing investigation and looming trial. The external investigation is supported by Chief Saunders, who had already launched an internal investigation of missing-persons cases.

April 3, 2018: Toronto police withdraw an application to participate in the 2018 Pride parade, one day after Pride Toronto and a coalition of LGBTQ groups called on police to rescind their request to take part.

Citing anger and shock about the deaths in the Gay Village and “insufficient” investigations into missing-persons cases, the groups said the damaged relationship between the community and police “cannot be mended through a parade.”

April 11, 2018: McArthur is charged with a seventh count first-degree murder in Faizi’s death after forensic pathologists identify his remains among those found in the Mallory Cres. planters.

April 16, 2018: Police identify the deceased man in the photograph as Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, and charge McArthur with an eighth count of first-degree murder. Kanagaratnam is the youngest man alleged to be killed by McArthur.

May 2018: Toronto police complete their four-month forensic examination of McArthur’s 19th-floor Thorncliffe Park apartment building. They seized 1,800 exhibits and took more than 18,000 photographs. The probe is officially the largest forensic investigation in Toronto’s history.

June 2018: Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Gloria Epstein is tapped to lead an independent review of how Toronto police review missing persons cases. She retires from Ontario’s highest court to conduct the review, which will examine whether the probes into the alleged McArthur victims’ disappearances could have been “tainted by systemic bias or discrimination.”

Toronto police sift through materials behind 53 Mallory Cres. in a July 5 file photo.
Toronto police sift through materials behind 53 Mallory Cres. in a July 5 file photo.  (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

July 2018: Toronto police resume an extensive search behind 53 Mallory Cres. involving cadaver dogs and locate human remains just hours in. Human remains are found virtually every day of the nine-day excavation of what police called a ‘compost pile’ at the back of the property, in a forested ravine.

The remains are identified as those of Kayhan, the sole alleged McArthur victims whose remains had not yet been recovered. His are the only remains not buried inside large planters on the same Leaside property.

October 2018: Toronto police provide details of its dedicated missing person’s unit, formed after criticism of Toronto police handling of sudden disappearances, including those now alleged to be McArthur’s victims.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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