With investigators wrapping up their inch-by-inch search of the apartment of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur, the Toronto Police Service says its budget needs to be adjusted because of the extra costs from recent high-profile homicide cases.
The TPS said Tuesday that it had collected more than 1,800 pieces of evidence after completing its four-month search of Mr. McArthur’s 19th-floor flat.
More than 18,000 crime-scene photos were also taken, the force said in a statement that described the case as the largest forensic examination in TPS history.
The statement came two days before a TPS board meeting where Chief Mark Saunders will seek a revision of the force’s $996.3-million budget for 2018.
According to a budgetary report Chief Saunders will table at the board, the TPS will need an extra $3.8-million despite saving a similar amount in salaries and benefits from having more officers than expected leaving the service.
One reason for the cash crunch is that the TPS will need $6-million more than the $39-million it budgeted for premium pay. (Premium pay includes overtime and callbacks, when officers are needed outside regular shifts.)
The extra costs in premium pay is attributed to “reduced staffing levels and recent high-profile cases,” the report said.
The budget document didn’t identify the cases, but TPS spokeswoman Meaghan Gray confirmed that the projections include three ongoing labour-intensive investigations: the December slayings of billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey, the McArthur case and last month’s van attack that killed 10 people on Yonge Street.
“It’s unprecedented for us in Toronto,” former homicide detective Mark Mendelson, who is now a private consultant, said in an interview.
“It’s not like we sell chocolate bars where you can budget every year how many you will sell. You can’t forecast major crimes. There is no accounting for things like McArthur or things like the Yonge Street tragedy.”
He noted that the scope of the McArthur investigation and the number of crime scenes connected to the case keep expanding.
The search of Mr. McArthur’s apartment began after the freelance landscaper was arrested on Jan. 18. He is now charged with the first-degree murder of eight men with ties to the city’s Gay Village.
Already, the Crown had to disclose tens of thousands of pages of evidence to Mr. McArthur’s defence lawyer.
For three weeks, police dug up a backyard on Mallory Crescent, in the Leaside neighbourhood, where Mr. McArthur stored his tools. The remains of seven men were found there in gardening planters.
Mr. McArthur has been charged with the murder of those seven men: Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, Soroush Mahmudi, Kirushna Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman. The remains of the eighth man, Majeed Kayhan, have not been found.
Police suspect some of the eight killings took place in the apartment, Homicide Detective-Sergeant Hank Idsinga previously told reporters.
In a March interview with the National Post, Det.-Sgt. Idsinga said that investigators were methodically sweeping through the apartment, looking into the walls, under the floorboards and under the carpets for any fingerprint, human hair or traces of blood or semen.
Each piece of evidence would have to be measured, photographed, collected in a way that wouldn’t taint it, with the chain of possession being fully recorded, Mr. Mendelson said.
Although investigators have already searched dozens of properties connected to Mr. McArthur’s landscaping business, with the weather getting warmer, another 75 properties are expected to be checked in the spring.
“We’re looking at more locations. We’ve got a lot of searches still to do,” Det.-Sgt. Idsinga told reporters last month.