TORONTO — Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur appeared briefly by video in a Toronto courtroom Wednesday morning, before his case was put over until the end of the month.
The 66-year-old self-employed landscaper faces five first-degree murder charges in connection with the disappearances of several men believed to have had ties to Toronto's LGBTQ community.
Police have found the dismembered remains of six individuals in large planters at the home of one of McArthur's clients, and investigators have said they expect to lay more charges in the coming days.
McArthur, wearing an orange jumpsuit, said little during his short court appearance, speaking only to thank the court at the end of the proceedings.
A friend of Dean Lisowick — one of McArthur's alleged victims — was in the courtroom, but said he could not bring himself to look at McArthur on the video screen.
"I'm just numb," said Jeff Tunney, who lived briefly with Lisowick in Toronto. "You don't know how to feel about it. I don't know how."
Lisowick, who police have said had no fixed address, drifted back and forth between shelters and Tunney's home in the heart of Toronto's gay village, before settling with Tunney for around two and a half months beginning in 2015, Tunney said.
Lisowick moved out after the pair had a disagreement over his drug use, Tunney said. But in spring 2016, Lisowick showed up outside Tunney's home.
"He said he was going to be back and then he never came back and no one knew what happened to him," he added.
Lisowick, who was either 43 or 44 at the time of his death, was never reported missing.
Tunney said he assumed Lisowick had simply found a better place to live.
Lisowick worked part time as a cleaner in a local bar and also earned money as a sex worker, Tunney said.
Tunney and a friend had tried, unsuccessfully, to warn Lisowick away from the sex trade, he added.
"I was a little worried for his safety because he seemed to be a naive guy that just goes anywhere," Tunney said.
Police have so far identified only one set of remains — those of Andrew Kinsman, another one of the men McArthur is accused of killing — and have said they continue to analyze the others.
Last month, McArthur was charged with 49-year-old Kinsman's death, as well as the presumed death of 44-year-old Selim Esen. Both men went missing from Toronto's gay village in 2017.
Police laid three more first-degree murder charges against McArthur about two weeks later, related to the disappearances of Lisowick, Majeed Kayhan, 58, and Soroush Mahmudi, 50.
McArthur is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 28.
Peter Goffin, The Canadian Press