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Canada Bruce McArthur’s victims: A look at the eight lives lost

Illustrations by Rachel Idzerda

All but one of Bruce McArthur’s eight victims were marginalized, vulnerable men. Six of them were refugees or immigrants. They had limited financial means. They didn’t have family support or their relatives were newcomers with a poor grasp of English. Four had drinking or drug problems. Three had not come out as gay.

On Tuesday, Mr. McArthur plead guilty to the eight killings that shook Toronto’s gay community. The court heard only a few details about the killings through a short agreed statement of facts. Here’s a deeper look at the men and what’s known about their disappearances.

Skandaraj Navaratnam

The first of the victims to vanish, he was the second of the four sons of a businessman. Outgoing and quick-witted, Mr. Navaratnam had been a hotel animator in his native Sri Lanka, organizing entertainment for the guests.

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A member of the island’s Tamil minority, he came to Toronto as a refugee and found jobs as a home nurse and a casual labourer. He also was employed by Mr. McArthur’s landscaping business and sometimes worked at the property on Mallory Crescent where his remains were eventually found. Friends said Mr. Navaratnam was in a relationship with Mr. McArthur but broke up because he found the older man too controlling.

The 40-year-old Mr. Navaratnam was last seen publicly on Sept. 5, 2010, leaving the Zipperz gay bar with an unknown man.

Abdulbasir Faizi

Born in Herat, Afghanistan, Mr. Faizi and his wife, Kareema, moved to Canada, where their two girls were born.

He worked as an assistant machine operator at a printing facility near his home in Brampton, a suburb west of Toronto. The couple bought two other homes as investments but later were forced to declare bankruptcy, saying that they had been the victims of mortgage fraud.

On Dec. 29, 2010, Mr. Faizi called his wife at 7:20 p.m., saying he was at work and that he would be home late because he was meeting a friend. The 42-year-old never came back and his cellphone was disconnected that evening. After his family reported him missing to Peel Regional Police, investigators found, from his bank records, that he had visited a bathhouse and the Black Eagle, a bar in the Village that was also patronized by Mr. McArthur.

His 2002 Nissan Sentra was discovered in January on Moore Avenue, a five-minute drive from the Mallory Crescent property.

Until Mr. McArthur’s arrest, his wife and relatives thought Mr. Faizi had abandoned his family.

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Majeed Kayhan

Like Mr. Faizi, Mr. Kayhan came to Canada from Afghanistan. The son of a Muslim cleric, he and his bride were married in Kabul and had two children.

The Kayhans moved to Canada in 1989, first settling in Guelph then Etobicoke. They divorced in 2002. Leaving his wife with their teenaged children at their suburban townhouse, Mr. Kayhan moved to downtown Toronto, living with an older man and embracing his sexuality more openly.

He worked as a rug salesman and was known as a regular at Village bars such as Zipperz. Friends say he also struggled with PTSD and was a heavy drinker. Mr. Kayhan kept in touch with his relatives, who last saw him on Oct. 14, 2012, at a wedding. His son reported him as missing later that month.

The disappearances of Mr. Navaratnam, Mr. Faizi and Mr. Kayhan were unsuccessfully investigated by a police task force, Project Houston.

Mr. Kayhan was an acquaintance of Mr. McArthur. A mutual friend told The Globe that he spoke in 2013 with Project Houston investigators and that he suggested they question Mr. McArthur.

Soroush Mahmudi

The 49-year-old Mr. Mahmudi went missing a year after Project Houston had disbanded.

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The Iranian-born Mr. Mahmudi fled his native country to Turkey, landed in Montreal, then moved to London, Ont.

One night in 1997, he met a transgender woman, Sarah Cohen, at a bar in the Village. He became her live-in partner, living together, at first in Ms. Cohen’s parent’s basement, but soon in their own apartment in Barrie, Ont. Her family helped Mr. Mahmudi find a job at the local car-parts factory.

In 2001, when they broke up, he beat her on the head with a blender’s glass jar. He pleaded guilty to assault.

Two years after the assault, Mr. Mahmudi married a refugee claimant from Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority, Fareena Marzook.

They moved to Scarborough to live with Ms. Marzook’s son from her first husband. Mr. Mahmudi worked construction jobs and also landscaping. His wife surmises that is how he met Mr. McArthur.

On Aug. 15, 2015, he left his apartment tower and never came back.

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Toronto police were unaware that he had a connection to the Village and didn’t connect his disappearance to the other missing gay men’s files until his body was found.

Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam

A 37-year-old Tamil refugee claimant, Mr. Kanagaratnam was born in Nainativu, a small island off the northern tip of Sri Lanka.

While he had relatives in the Tamil diaspora living in Britain and France, his immediate family resided in the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna, where he attended the St. John’s College private school.

In 2007, one of his brothers died in the civil war. Mr. Kanagaratnam arrived in Canada in August 2010, along with hundreds of other Tamils aboard the MV Sun Sea, a rickety ship that took three months to sail from Thailand to British Columbia.

He was living in Scarborough and had no direct family in Canada. His disappearance in the fall of 2015 was not reported to police.

When they stopped receiving news from him, Mr. Kanagaratnam’s family assumed that he went into hiding to avoid deportation after his refugee claim had been denied.

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They made Tamil-language Facebook appeals to friends in Canada. By then, police believe, he was already dead.

To identify him, police took the extraordinary step of releasing a photo taken after his death.

Dean Lisowick

The 47-year-old was known in the Village as a transient with a crack addition who went by the street name Laser.

Mr. Lisowick came from a Winnipeg blue-collar family whose members moved to the Toronto area, seeking factory jobs.

When he was eight, he was removed from his single father’s care and placed in a foster home in the Lake Simcoe area.

By the 1990s, he was a sex worker in the Village. For a few years he lived with his great-aunt, but in 2000 pleaded guilty to assaulting her.

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Afterward, he moved in with his father in Orillia, where Larry Lisowick worked at a fireplace factory. A relative said Larry tried to get Dean a job. However, one day Dean threatened his father with a knife.

Larry dropped off Dean in Barrie and they never saw each other again.

He was not reported missing but police believe he died around April 2016.

His remains went unclaimed from the coroner’s office so Haran Vijayanathan, a community organizer, took it upon himself to have Mr. Lisowick interred.

Selim Esen

A graduate with a degree in sociology and philosophy from a university in Ankara, the 43-year-old Mr. Esen had worked in Australia before returning to his native Turkey.

He was employed at a café owned by a gay couple in Istanbul before moving to Canada with his boyfriend.

They broke up and Mr. Esen struggled with drug dependence. However, by 2017 he had just completed a peer-counselling course that would help him work with others fighting addiction.

He was last seen publicly in downtown Toronto in April 2017. At the time, according to his friend, Richard Harrop, Mr. Esen had just started renting an apartment and was hoping to get his life in order before going to Turkey to see his family.

Andrew Kinsman

The 49-year-old grew up in Oshawa, Ont., earned a BA in humanities from McMaster University and lived in Hamilton before settling in Toronto.

He had long been involved in community groups and was an employee and volunteer for the Toronto HIV/AIDS Network and the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.

He also was a cancer survivor who impressed his friends with his insistence in cycling between his home in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood and Sunnybrook hospital, 10 kilometres away.

He was also a superintendent in a Cabbagetown building. His disappearance in June 2017 quickly led friends and family to organize searches and public appeals for him. By July, the Toronto police set up a special task force, Project Prism, to find out what happened to Mr. Kinsman and Mr. Esen. Within a month, they identified Mr. McArthur as a person of interest.

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