'There's no training for this': Owners of home tied to Bruce McArthur allowed to return

Three weeks after they were caught up in the nightmarish saga of an alleged killer, Karen Fraser and her partner Ron Smith will be able to return to their Leaside home on Friday.

'I think I've kind of put it in different rooms in my mind,' said Karen Fraser

On Jan. 18, police showed up at Karen Fraser's Leaside home and told her she had 20 minutes to leave. Fraser and her partner, Ron Smith, have been staying with strangers since then. (CBC)

Three weeks after they were caught up in the nightmarish saga of an alleged killer, Karen Fraser and her partner Ron Smith will be able to return to their Leaside home on Friday. 

That news comes as Toronto police revealed that investigators have discovered the remains of six people on their leafy Mallory Crescent property.

We're hearing that police have found the remains of six bodies in the backyard of a home in Leaside. What's it like to find your home the centre of an investigation into an alleged serial killer? We talk to Karen Fraser, who's lived on Mallory Crescent for the past 32 years. 7:44

The couple's landscaper of 10 years, Bruce McArthur, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of five men, most of them with strong connections to the Gay Village. 

"There's no training for this," said Fraser when asked how it might feel to return to a home now associated with McArthur and his alleged crimes.

Toronto police have used ground-penetrating radar and dogs to search the Mallory Crescent property. An area of the yard where the ground has been disturbed will be excavated during the next week. (James Morrison-Collalto/CBC)

"We'll know when we arrive. On the other hand, our position is that this is our home. It's a beautiful property, we have deer in the back, lovely light, we look right down over the Don Valley. This is a tragedy but we're not going to let it bring our life down. We liked our life in that house," Fraser told CBC's Metro Morning.

They will, however, host a "clearing ceremony," which will be open to anyone in the community. Space clearing rituals, common in cultures throughout the world, are usually intended to re-establish positive energy, or the perception thereof, in places where tragic or unwanted things have happened. 

"Maybe it will help just a little bit, to think of it as a community and try to keep moving," she said. 

Fraser has lived on Mallory Crescent for 32 years. For the past 10 years, McArthur did landscape work for the couple in exchange for equipment storage. Fraser said she last saw the 66-year-old on New Year's Day, when he returned a pie plate she had given him before the holidays. 

The garage of the Mallory Crescent home. (CBC)

On Jan. 18, the day McArthur was arrested in his Thorncliffe Park apartment, Toronto police told Fraser and Smith they had 20 minutes to leave their residence. They ended up staying in the home of complete strangers who agreed to take them in, along with their cats, while the investigation unfolded. 

In the final week of January, homicide investigator Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga revealed that the remains of at least three people were discovered inside large planters that were seized from Fraser's home. He announced that McArthur would face charges for five homicides.

Then, on Thursday, police said the remains of three more individuals were found inside planters kept at Fraser's residence, bringing the total to six.

"I guess in my mind — falsely — when they said five, at least that was an end," Fraser said. "Then, another one. That really upset me. It's not over. Where's it going now?"

A blue tent in Fraser's yard covers the area where police have been using heaters to thaw the frozen ground before starting to dig. (CBC)

Police have used ground-penetrating radar and canine units to search the rest of her yard. An area which appears to have been disturbed will be excavated over the week to come. Idsinga said Thursday that there could be a second excavation at a second property, depending on what else is found at the Mallory Crescent home.

Fraser said thoughts of the "terror and horror" experienced by McArthur's alleged victims has been the most difficult part of the last few weeks. 

"I think I've kind of put it in different rooms in my mind, and some doors I'm just refusing to open right now," she explained. 

Those troubling thoughts prompted Fraser to attend a vigil for McArthur's alleged victims held last weekend. 

"What happened to us was upsetting and inconvenient, but it will pass," she said of her experiences over the last three weeks. "What happened to the community in the Village, and the families, is going to be agony forever. We wanted to be there to support them."

More charges are expected to be laid against McArthur, Idsinga said. 

Police have had the home blocked off for three weeks. Karen Fraser and her partner will be allowed to return on Friday at noon. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

With files from Metro Morning.