As It Happens

'I was so horrified,' says Toronto woman whose home is linked to alleged serial killer

Police found human remains on the property of a Toronto couple who let alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur store landscaping equipment at their home.
Toronto police probe a home linked to accused serial killer Bruce McArthur, located on Mallory Crescent in the area of Bayview and Moore avenues. The home belongs to Karen Fraser, who says McArthur stored his landscaping equipment there and took care of her yard. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

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Karen Fraser and her husband haven't been home in more than a week. 

The Toronto couple's house has become a focal point for the police investigation into an alleged serial killer targeting men in Toronto's Gay Village. Police have found human remains in flower planters on the property.

Landscaper Bruce McArthur, 66, has now been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi and Dean Lisowick.

"It's very interesting and bizarre to watch your own home on television and seeing neighbours that you've never met being interviewed and talking about you and your home," Fraser told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.

"I found it horrifying and captivating."

On Jan. 18, police officers arrived at Fraser's home on Mallory Crescent in the Leaside neighbourhood with a warrant and told her and her husband they had 20 minutes to clear out.

"It really took the two of us to form a sentence and to try and make a plan," she said. "I simply couldn't think. I was so horrified. Every aspect was more horrifying and I just —  it was really hard to take."

Police have controlled the property ever since.

Remains found in flower planters

McArthur had been storing his landscaping equipment at the couple's home in exchange for mowing their lawn and taking care of their yard.

Det.-Sgt Hank Idsinga said Monday police discovered dismembered remains in the bottom of large flower planters while searching Fraser's property. 

Fraser said she knew Bruce McArthur for nearly a decade and was shocked to learn he had been arrested and charged with several murders. (Bruce McArthur/Facebook)

Fraser said McArthur would often store such planters on her property. There were two large, heavy ones in her backyard for the last two years, she said. 

"They would come and go," she said. "If they were going to stay long enough, he often put some plants in for us. And then when a client wanted them, off they would go."

Since McArthur's arrest, police have identified approximately 30 properties where the self-employed landscaper may have worked.

Idsinga said police have searched the majority of the properties, and urged anyone who may have employed McArthur to contact them so they can search the area where he may have worked.

Fraser says she is staying with friends. Police have not confirmed when she will be allowed to back into her home. 

Knew him for years

News of McArthur's arrest came as a shock to Fraser, who says she's known him for nearly a decade.

"You have to understand, he has been kind, helpful, helped with our charity work, doing floral gifts for silent auctions. He went above and beyond what our original agreement was to cut the grass," she said.

"There's a beautiful Christmas arrangement ... just showed up on a week before Christmas made by him."

Forensic investigators combed through the garage of a property on Mallory Crescent on Saturday. The owners are staying with friends. (CBC)

At first, she said she and her husband vowed to give McArthur the benefit of the doubt until he is tried in a court of law. 

But as more information comes out about the grisly crimes and the victims, she said their faith in him has waned.

Thinking of the victims 

Fraser said she's had trouble sleeping.

She said she's been been thinking a lot about how some of the victims were immigrants to Canada. 

Bruce McArthur has been charged with the first-degree murder of Majeed Kayhan, top left, Soroush Mahmudi, top centre, Dean Lisowick, top right, Andrew Kinsman, bottom left, and Selim Esen. (Toronto Police Service)

"And so I picture these men, glad to be making friends. They found a community. They really think that their new life is going to be maybe more than they ever dreamed possible — and then that someone someone took advantage," she said.

"The terror, the horror — that's what I have real trouble with."