Toronto

What we know about the 8 men killed by Bruce McArthur

After Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder, we learned more about the serial killer’s victims at the 67-year-old’s sentencing hearing.

Friends and family talk about the loved ones taken from them by serial killer

Listen to statements read by the people who mourn Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Abdulbasir Faizi, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi and Majeed Kayhan. 3:01

Now that Bruce McArthur, 67, has pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder, we have learned more about the serial killer's victims.

Victim impact statements, read by the Crown or the victims' friends and family members over two days of sentencing hearings, provided further details about the lives of each man.

Here's a brief look at what we know about Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman.

Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40

(John Fraser/CBC)

Skandaraj Navaratnam, or "Skanda" as he was known to his friends, is remembered as a charming, kind and charismatic man, who came to Canada as a gay immigrant from Sri Lanka.

His brother, Navaseelan Navaratnam, said that Skanda was the "live wire in our family," and a "jovial character" since childhood.

He wanted to give his family a better life and, while in Canada, financially supported them, Navaseelan said in a victim impact statement.

Long-time friend Kevin Nash first met Navaratnam in 1994, when he was in a relationship with one of Nash's friends.

"If you knew Skanda, you would love him. He was a very attractive, handsome young man with a charismatic attitude [who] loved to laugh," said Nash.

One summer Nash's son briefly went missing, and Nash says Navaratnam hopped on his bicycle and scoured nearby parks looking for him.

Navaratnam met McArthur in 1999, and the two were in a relationship at some point in the early 2000s.

Navaratnam went missing over Labour Day weekend in 2010. He was last seen leaving Zipperz nightclub, near Church and Carlton streets, with an unknown man.

His best friend Jean-Guy Cloutier used to text with him every morning, so when he didn't hear from Navaratnam for several days he reported him missing.

In his victim impact statement, Cloutier described Navaratnam as a "very proud man" who took care of his appearance, was well groomed and he made sure he "was always seen in a positive light."

"He was the most outgoing person —  with a personality to go with it," and was "always there to help out his friends," Cloutier said. 

Navaratnam also loved all animals and was an environmentalist who sought to protect the forests and jungles in Sri Lanka, he said.

McArthur killed Navaratnam on or about the day he was last seen.

"Skanda will never be replaceable to me," said friend Phil Werren, reading a victim impact statement Monday. "This loss has been enormous for his friends and family."

Navaratnam was "almost unbeatable at Scrabble," said Werren, who said they saw each other almost every day for a decade.

Navaratnam's remains were taken to India, his brother said.

Abdulbasir Faizi​, 44

(John Fraser/CBC)

Abdulbasir Faizi was funny, smart and loved his kids, according to a longtime friend. He was also living a double life as a gay man when he went missing in 2010.

Faizi's wife, two daughters, and longtime friend had no idea he was frequenting Toronto's Gay Village neighbourhood until after he disappeared. On Dec. 29, 2010, Faizi called his wife to tell her he was at work with colleagues and would be home later that night.

That was the last time she spoke with him. When Faizi never returned home, his cousin reported him missing to Peel Regional Police the next day. A week later police discovered Faizi's abandoned car a short drive from the home on Mallory Crescent where the remains of McArthur's victims were recovered.

In divorce papers Faizi's wife later filed, she said investigators believed Faizi had abandoned his family and did not want to be found.

But that doesn't ring true for his friend, who says the last time he spoke to Faizi "he was working overtime to make sure his kids get all the things that were on their wish list for Christmas."  

In a victim impact statement, his wife said that since Faizi's death, she has lost her ability emotionally and physically to do daily activities, and that their daughters suffer terribly knowing what happened to their father.

She said when they are alone in their room, they take a picture of their father with them. They also talk about the times their father would play with them and of their memories of being together.

Police have said McArthur and Faizi knew each other. McArthur killed Faizi on or about the day he went missing.

Majeed Kayhan, 58

(John Fraser/CBC)

Majeed Kayhan lived on Church Street in Toronto's Gay Village and frequented bars in the area. Kayhan knew McArthur before he went missing.

Karen Fraser, the owner of the Mallory Crescent home where the remains of victims were found, says McArthur once brought Kayhan to her house.

He was last seen by a friend in the area of Alexander and Yonge streets on Oct. 18, 2012.

Kayhan's adult son reported him missing a week later. McArthur killed him on or about the day he went missing.

Jalill Kayhan, Majeed's brother, said in a victim impact statement that Majeed was the youngest of the siblings, and that along with many older siblings, he leaves behind nieces and nephews, two children and three grandchildren. 

Soroush Mahmudi, 50

(John Fraser/CBC)

Soroush Mahmudi was an easy-going jokester who liked to go camping and play soccer. That's how Brett Morrison remembers him. The two men were friends for about a decade while they worked together at an automotive parts factory in Barrie, Ont.

He says everyone who met Mahmudi liked him.

Mahmudi came to Canada as a refugee when he was about 20.  As far as Morrison knows he didn't have any family in Canada until he met his wife here.

The former colleague says Mahmudi left the factory in 2008, and worked as a taxi driver in Barrie for a while before moving to Toronto to be closer to his wife's family. After that the two friends lost touch.

Mahmudi was last seen alive on Aug. 15, 2015, near his apartment building on Markham Road in Scarborough. He was killed on or about the same day by McArthur.

Mahmudi's son-in-law reported him missing.

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37

(John Fraser/CBC)

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam came to Canada in hopes of a "bright future" in a new country that could help him provide for his family in Sri Lanka.

He arrived in 2010 as one of 492 Sri Lankans fleeing his country's civil war, and seeking asylum aboard the MV Sun Sea cargo ship.

Eventually, he ended up in Toronto, where he worked odd jobs, like moving furniture, to send money home.

His family described him as the "responsible one," and the fourth of six siblings. Kanagaratnam lost his youngest brother in 2007, when he was killed during the armed conflict between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil fighters.

In 2013, Kanagaratnam told a friend he'd met on the MV Sun Sea that both his application for refugee status and his subsequent appeal had been rejected. In the next couple of years he phoned his mother every day, but the calls stopped coming in late August 2015, and when she tried to call him his phone wasn't working.

Kanagaratnam's family was very worried, but never reported him missing because they thought he was in hiding, scared that Canadian authorities planned to send him back to Sri Lanka. 

McArthur killed Kanagaratnam in January 2016.

Dean Lisowick, 47

(John Fraser/CBC)

Dean Lisowick had inherited his mother's artistic talent and was happy to send her one of his paintings. He kept in contact with his parents, who had divorced, until he developed mental health problems which led him to living on the streets, his uncle Gerry Montanti said in a victim impact statement.

He would occasionally send his mother cards for special occasions, he said. Not just ordinary cards but cards "that had to be searched out carefully for their expressions of love."

His mother never gave up hope that she would day see her son again, but she died in 2011, "and remained broken hearted, praying for his safety and well being," Montanti said. 

He was considered a "sweet guy" who stuck up for his fellow sex-trade workers in the Gay Village. Those who used to work alongside Lisowick described him as a fixture of the community for decades.

"If he saw someone being harassed, or something like that, he was always the first one to come to the rescue," said M'shel George, a former sex-trade worker. "He was very street savvy, so it just baffled me that he, of all people, would be a victim."

Lisowick was a regular user of Toronto's shelter system. He was last admitted to a shelter in April 2016, the same month McArthur killed him. Unlike most of the serial killer's other victims, Lisowick was never reported missing.

Mita Hans didn't know Lisowick by name, but remembers him being eager to help out with the informal food program she ran for the homeless at Allan Gardens.

She last saw Lisowick the month he died. Hans was playing music in the park and Lisowick and a friend joined her for a dance.

On Monday, the Crown read out a statement by Lisowick's daughter, who said she never knew her father.

"I was told he lived on the streets downtown. Growing up knowing that wasn't easy," she wrote. "I have a child and another baby on the way and unfortunately one day they will ask about my father and where he is and I will have to tell [them] how he was taken away from the world."

Lisowick's cousin, Julie Pearo, said in her victim impact statement that the last few times she saw Dean, he was "making plans, setting goals, and doing the things needed to accomplish them."

His face lit up when he talked about his daughter and how he wanted to get his life together to buy her an electric bike, she said.

Selim Esen, 44

(John Fraser/CBC)

Selim Esen's brothers remember "his tender and kind humanity" before everything else. He was born in Istanbul and grew up in Ankara, where he worked to help support his family, while earning a university degree.

His older brothers, Omer Esen and Ferhat Cinar, say Esen was unhappy as a gay man living in Turkey and spent several years in Australia before moving to Canada in 2013 to marry his boyfriend. The relationship didn't last, but Esen stayed in Toronto.

He was a very friendly, open and curious man who was "passionate about learning new things, gardening, exploring new places and meeting new people," according to his family.

In one victim impact statement, Esen was described as loving nature and managing a cafe; he had a passion for studying philosophy.

Esen had been a client at the Toronto-based St. Stephen's Community House but he had also completed a peer training program and was set to begin providing peer support; such as accompanying others to medical appointments, running workshops and such. 

"Selim had reached a turning point in his life and was set to be a fantastic peer worker, full of compassion, wisdom and a sincere desire to help others," Gab Laurence, a manager at the community house, said in a victim impact statement.

Esen was "one of the most compassionate, caring and inquisitive people that we got the pleasure of knowing. He felt strongly about equity and justice and cared deeply about the well being of everyone around him," Richard Kikot said in his victim impact statement.

Kikot said he got to know Esen while he was facilitating a peer training program. Esen was convinced "he was on the road toward serving and supporting others," Kikot said.

"He was so philosophical about things and it seemed everything was processed through a lens of deep emotion and curiousity."

Esen told Kikot that he would often spend nights walking the streets of the city, "not aimlessly, but purposely. He was a romantic. He believed in the power of love."

But Kikot said at the time of his disappearance, Esen wasn't at a "high point in his life" and that he was struggling, seemed confused and afraid, and was convinced something bad was about to happen.

 Esen went missing over Easter weekend in 2017. He was last seen alive near Bloor Street East and Ted Rogers Way. McArthur killed Esen on or about the day he went missing.

His family is devastated. They want people in the LGTB community to be able to live without fear, and will continue asking why that's not happening, they said in their statement. 

Andrew Kinsman, 49

(John Fraser/CBC)

Andrew Kinsman's intelligence "shone brightly" at an early age, and he had developed an affinity for chess at age four, his sister Shelley said in a victim impact statement.

"[He] could skillfully defeat opponents that were five times his age."

She described him as "the kindest and most compassionate sibling" and that under his "gruff demeanour" he cared deeply for the welfare of all.

"He championed social justice issues and enjoyed helping others," she said.

Kinsman was a diverse individual, who could be found baking in his kitchen, volunteering at the food bank,or partaking in debates, she said.

Greg Dunn said Kinsman was his best friend, and that they took many weekend road trips to Ottawa and Montreal. For years, they went camping every other weekend, were avid hikers and shared their love, respect and concern for nature, he said in a victim impact statement.

One of Andrew Kinsman's friends described him as "one of the most predictable, responsible people" in her life. Kinsman spent decades involved with the Toronto HIV/AIDS Network and had deep roots in the LGBT community.

He was also superintendent of his apartment building in Toronto's Cabbagetown neighbourhood, where he lived with his beloved cat. So when the aging feline was left alone a day after the city's annual Pride parade in June 2017, his friends grew worried.

Ted Healy knew Kinsman for 20 years, and says his friend was "happy" and "upbeat" when the two ran into each other the day before Kinsman disappeared. 

Kinsman was last seen on June 26, 2017. Surveillance video shows him getting into McArthur's van outside of his apartment building that day.

Police say the two men had been in a sexual relationship for some time. McArthur killed Kinsman on or about the day he went missing.  

"It saddens me to know Andrew is gone. I miss him very much," said Kinsman's sister, Karen Coles, in her victim impact statement.

Kinsman wanted to make the world a better place for those struggling to survive, she said.

Meaghan Marian said she first met Kinsman 10 years ago, when she moved into the same apartment building.

The two friends would meet on the roof of the building, she said, where Kinsman would say "I only have 10 minutes but — " and, hours later, they would still be chatting.

Kinsman took care of Marian's pet birds and taught them to eat vegetables. When she came home, Marian said, the birds liked him better than her.

"He made people want to connect, to share, to gather together," said Marian, who said Kinsman regularly baked for the building.

When they first met, Marian said, Kinsman was recovering from cancer that had been expected to be terminal. He had cancer again the year before he was killed, she said.

"I saw him recover through the sheer force of his will," Marian said. "Andrew loved life and he wasn't done."

All illustrations by the CBC's John Fraser. With files from The Canadian Press