The man accused of killing two men who disappeared from Toronto's Gay Village in 2017 sold his van to an auto parts shop last fall, the shop owner says, and police came looking for the vehicle in early October.

Dominic Vetere, owner of Dom's Auto Parts, located roughly 70 kilometres northeast of Toronto, says Bruce McArthur visited him on Sept. 16 to sell his old, rusty, maroon-coloured Dodge Caravan. A month later police came looking for exactly that vehicle.

"According to our salesman, the day [McArthur] came in to sell the van, it was just a regular purchase. He was not upset, he was not panicky, he just came in, made the sale and he left,"  Vetere told CBC News said, adding he wasn't sure how McArthur left or who he might have gone with.

The vehicle had racked up 243,000 kilometres and Vetere's shop purchased it for $125.

McArthur was arrested and charged with first-degree murder last week in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. Police believe there are more victims.

According to Vetere, police visited the shop on Oct. 3 while canvassing other businesses looking for a vehicle.

​"They said it was a high-profile case, but they didn't tell us that it was related to these missing gentlemen in particular," said Vetere.

When Vetere's staff ran the vehicle identification number through their system, they realized they'd purchased it.

'They knew who they were looking for'

From there, police and staff combed through surveillance footage. 

"We came up with the gentleman they were looking for," Vetere said. " I didn't know who it was at the time, but they knew who they were looking for."

Bruce McArthur Toronto January 18 2018

A frequent visitor to Toronto's Gay Village, 66-year-old Bruce McArthur is charged in the killing of two men and police believe there may be more victims. (Bruce McArthur/Facebook)

Vetere said police towed away the vehicle, and many more visits followed.

Police took copies of the video, he said, before interviewing the people who worked on the car, in an effort to discount anyone who might have had contact with the vehicle.

"Our people never saw any blood, but the police after they took the vehicle, they found some traces," he said. "That's why they wanted to discount anyone one who might have been working on it when it was here."

At least one staff member was also swabbed for DNA, he said. 

But it was only when McArthur was arrested last week, Vetere said, that he connected the dots.

'None of us even noticed'​

Vetere said police are fortunate the van was sold to his shop, because a scrap shop would have disposed of it immediately, and many others don't bother recording vehicle identification numbers. 

Many in Toronto's gay community have expressed frustration with how police have handled the investigation into the disappearances of several men from the city's Gay Village, including Kinsman and Esen.

Others who live, work or spend time in the area have expressed relief that an arrest has been made, but said they're angry police didn't heed their concerns about a possible serial killer earlier.

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has defended his force's handling of the case, saying officers worked with the evidence they had at the time.

When reached by The Canadian Press on Sunday, police declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

With files from CBC's Lorenda Reddekopp and The Canadian Press