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A note in a calendar led to the undoing of serial killer Bruce McArthur

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He became McArthur’s eighth and last — far as is known — murder victim.

It’s not clear why an investigation of missing males that had slogged along for six years — first came Project Houston, then came Project Prism — abruptly triggered a massive undertaking by police. A person with knowledge of the investigation says the explanation is straightforward: Kinsman had been reported missing only a day after he was last seen, on June 26, 2017. In the other disappearances, the time lag was longer. In a couple of cases, the men were never reported missing at all.

But Kinsman, 49, superintendent of a residential building on Winchester St., enjoyed a close-knit community of family and friends. He was known to tenants as a responsible custodian with an established day-to-day routine. It was odd when chores around went unattended. Stranger still that he would leave his cat alone, in his unit, unfed.

On this occasion, police responded with alacrity. They searched Kinsman’s home and discovered that calendar notation. Cops had at least a first name to follow up, a lead.

They seized closed-circuit video from Kinsman’s neighbourhood and were able to track some of his movements. Crucially, one of the detectives found two pieces of footage from around 3 p.m., June 26, that showed a man fitting Kinsman’s description getting into a red Dodge Caravan. The video did not capture the van’s licence plate. The driver’s face was unclear.

But the van, with its roof racks, rain deflectors on the passenger window and silver rims with five spokes, was distinctive. Police visiting a Dodge dealership on Front St. where the manager, shown a photo, identified the vehicle as a 2004 Anniversary Edition model. That piece of information was vital because — as Crown attorney Michael Cantlon told court on Monday during a sentencing hearing, reading into the record an agreed statement of facts — it narrowed down the scope of the police search dramatically.

Police obtained a list, from the Ministry of Transportation, of all Dodge Caravans/Grand Caravans registered in the GTA: 6,181 matched the criteria.

But, in a moment of smart cop thinking, Det. Dave Dickinson — co-lead of the investigation — cross-referenced the list with the name “Bruce.” That shrunk the vehicles of interest to five.

Among the owners was Bruce McArthur, the only individual from among those five who’d had any recent encounter with Toronto Police Service.

That previous contact would subsequently loom as an opportunity missed and rued.

In June of 2016 McArthur hooked up with a man he’d known for years. In the back of McArthur’s van, he directed that man to lie down on a fur coat, to put one arm behind his back. (The fur coat would pop up repeatedly in photographs police obtained depicting McArthur’s other victims, both alive and deceased.)

McArthur held the man’s wrist with “an angry look on his face,” Cantlon told court. Despite the man’s objections and pleadings to be freed, McArthur squeezed his larynx, started strangling him. The victim managed to roll away and escape. (He would be unable to swallow properly for a week.) He then reported the assault to 911 and gave police a statement. McArthur turned himself into a police station, gave an “exculpatory” statement deemed to be credible and was released without charges.

Cantlon stressed that, even if police had run a criminal check on McArthur at that point, they would not have been able to access details from a 2003 incident for which McArthur pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon, wherein he’d struck a man — a gay hustler — numerous times with a metal pipe. He’d received a conditional sentence of two years, but the conviction had been expunged in 2014.

“At the time he received the record suspension, he had committed three murders undetected,” said Cantlon.

In any event, armed with the knowledge they now had, police, in October 2017, tracked the Caravan to a wrecking yard in Courtice, Ont., impounded the vehicle and sent it to the Centre of Forensic Sciences for testing.

Found: eight blood spots on the seats and in the trunk, and semen traces. The samples spit up four DNA profiles — one of them belonging to Kinsman, one of them to McArthur. (Another would eventually be traced linked to Selim Esen, missing since April 2017.

In December 2017, investigators conducted a covert search of McArthur’s home. They copied a USB drive and a digital external drive located in McArthur’s bedroom. On the digital devices, they discovered more than 100 photos of Kinsman, dating as far back as 2007. Also: A metal bar wrapped with tape, believed to be a murder weapon. That pipe shows up in several photographs and would later be seized from McArthur’s new vehicle.

In 18 of the photos, Kinsman is dead, his body staged for the camera. Lying on top of a fur coat, naked, with a rope looped around his neck, knotted at one end. The pipe is looped through the knot, allowing it to be tightened, to apply pressure. There are close-ups of Kinsman’s genitals and ligature marks around his throat.

Kinsman’s remains would be found, following McArthur’s arrest, in large planters removed from the backyard of a Mallory Cres. property where McArthur had worked as a landscaper and where he’d stored his equipment, under an arrangement with the owners, for many years. Dismembered remains of six other victims were also discovered in the pots.

Cause of death for Kinsman was strangulation, the pathologist determined.

His head had been shaved — an apparent kink of McArthur’s with some victims, who also had their beards removed, apparently post-mortem.

Obstructing Kinsman’s airway was a ball of paper towelling that may have been inserted after death.

A man who’d beaten cancer, had come to this horrific fate.

In his first interview with police after being arrested, McArthur claimed he’d had sex with Kinsman only once, a decade earlier, and had not seen him since December 2016.

That poor man. That trusting friend.

Impassive in the dock, McArthur showed not a flicker of emotion during the two hours that Cantlon intoned the facts into the record. Nor did he react in the afternoon as grief-ridden family and friends stepped into the witness stand to deliver victim impact statements.

Karen Coles, sister to Andrew Kinsman, recalled her “baby” brother as a “generous, compassionate and thoughtful man.

“He gave back to the community in which he lived, worked and volunteered. He wanted to make the world a better place for those struggling to survive. He was a champion of the underdog.”

She misses their conversation, aches that she never got a chance to say goodbye.

They had searched and searched and searched, his family and friends.

“When he was missing, I’d lie awake at night, wondering where he was and what he might have suffered. Now, I lie awake and think about how he was murdered and dismembered by someone he knew.”

Another sister, Patricia Kinsman, recalled how they’d searched tirelessly for six months.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I envision his life ending the way it did.

“A person that strangled Andrew, dismembered him, threw him in a planter, and then admired his work for seven months.”

They’ll never be whole again, Kinsman’s loved ones.

“Murdered by him. We never say his name,” Patricia Kinsman said.

They will look for comfort in the knowledge that a jotting in a calendar by Andrew Kinsman sparked the unravelling of Bruce McArthur and breathed life into all the murdered men.

As another friend, Ted Healy — and many friends who spoke — said: “Andrew never suffered fools and it baffles me how he” — McArthur — “got Andrew to trust him.”

McArthur took Kinsman’s life and thought he’d silenced him forever.

“But Andrew outsmarted him.”

Let that be his epitaph.

Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

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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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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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