The disappearance 49-year-old LGBTQ activist Andrew Kinsman may have led to the arrest of Bruce McArthur in Toronto.
Friends and family of Kinsman reported his disappearance quickly, the day after Toronto’s gay-pride parade on June 25, 2017.
Police set up a task force soon after, but it wasn’t until Jan. 18, 2018, that the 66-year-old landscaper McArthur was arrested. He is now charged with the deaths of six gay men — and the investigation continues.
Other than Kinsman, who was white, the victims in the case were gay men of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent, with cultural pressures not to be out. NBC News reports that other victims were less visible than Kinsman — a homeless crack-cocaine user who worked as prostitute, a closeted man in a conservative Muslim family, an immigrant with a drug problem.
“There’s a part of me that says Bruce wanted to get caught because he broke that pattern of preying on the vulnerable,” said Haran Vijayanathan, a community activist and the executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention in Toronto.
Kinsman, though, was much more prominent in the city’s LGBTQ community. He volunteered at Toronto People with AIDS Foundation.
His sister, Patricia Kinsman, told NBC, “He would never leave his cat. He would never shirk his duties. He was a superintendent, and he didn’t take the garbage out on Wednesday, so I knew at that point.”
“He was well known. When we saw his face on missing posters we were like ‘What is going on here?'” said friend Charles Cuschieri.
Facing criticism for delays, Toronto police have pushed back on the handling of the case. Police Chief Mark Saunders blamed the people McArthur had crossed paths with.
“We knew that people were missing, and we knew we didn’t have the right answers,” Saunders told the Globe and Mail newspaper, in Toronto. “But nobody was coming to us with anything.”
Toronto’s LGBTQ community has a rocky history with police that dates back decades. On Feb. 4, 1981, police used crowbars and sledgehammers to raid four bathhouses. More than 250 gay men were arrested.
The lingering tension continues, as police were excluded from last summer’s pride parade.
Despite the police chief’s contention, a University of Toronto researcher who studies serial killings connected the disappearances last summer. Sasha Reid told CTVNews that she used victim data to create a criminal profile and call the police.
She offered to shared her databases with the police. They said thank you, but “that was it,” Reid said.