It could be 'months' before human remains found in planters identified, say police

As police prepare to excavate a Leaside backyard in search of human remains, Det-Sgt. Hank Idsinga says Toronto police 'expect more charges to be laid' against alleged killer Bruce McArthur.

Officers prepping to excavate areas in yard of Leaside house where McArthur worked

Det-Sgt. Hank Idsinga spoke to media near the home on Mallory Crescent where human remains were discovered in planters. (CBC)

Toronto police say their work is far from done at a Leaside home where alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur worked and stored tools.

Earlier this week, police revealed that human remains had been discovered inside planters located on the property on Mallory Crescent. 

On Wednesday, lead investigator Det-Sgt. Hank Idsinga said it could take months for the skeletal remains found so far to be identified. 

Idsinga, who had previously said he believes that there are more victims, also said, "I can't give any idea about a number but I do expect more charges to be laid" against McArthur, who is currently facing five charges of first-degree murder. 

Police are using dogs and ground penetrating radar lent to the Toronto police by the Ontario Provincial Police at the property to identify areas where dirt has been disturbed in the yard.

Digging for remains in frozen ground

The plan, said Idsinga, is to continue warming the ground and begin excavation "late this week or early next week."

"There's a tent out back. It's a very large tent. We have some heaters there and we are thawing the ground there," he said. 

Although McArthur didn't live at the Mallory house, he did landscaping work for the couple who lived at the property over the past eight years. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

The property is now the site of a police command post, and Idsinga said police are also in the process of searching its basement.

He says police will be working on the property for at least another week and a half.

Searches continue across GTA

Meanwhile, police continue the process of investigating more than 30 properties where McArthur may have worked, and have confirmed their search extends to properties as far as Peel, York and Durham regions.

Idsinga said Wednesday they have "over a dozen planters to be examined" that police dogs identified as possibly containing remains. 

Anthony Antonelli, who lives near the homes that were searched close to Yonge Street and Balmoral Avenue, said he saw police cars and a truck pull up to his neighbour's houses on Sunday. (CBC)

Two properties that have already been searched are located near Yonge Street and Balmoral Avenue in North Rosedale.

"It's pretty scary. You see stuff on the news or read about it and find there's a connection on your own street, it's a little ominous," said Balmoral resident Anthony Antonelli. 

Another neighbour, Thea Weinstein, said she saw police dogs sniffing different things in her neighbour's front yard.

"It was pretty creepy," she said.