The excavation of a Toronto property where six presumed victims of an alleged serial killer were found buried in planters has concluded without unearthing any more human remains, police said Tuesday.
Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga said police have finished digging up the backyard of the home where Bruce McArthur, 66, worked as a landscaper prior to his arrest on multiple murder charges.
McArthur is currently facing five charges of first-degree murder related to the disappearances of men who are all believed to have had ties to the LGBTQ community.
Police have so far identified only one set of remains found in planters at the home on Mallory Crescent — they belong to Andrew Kinsman, one of the men McArthur is accused of murdering — and investigators have said they expect to lay more charges in the coming days.
The excavation of the backyard on Mallory Crescent was being conducted under the guidance of a forensic anthropologist and involved borrowing radar equipment from the provincial police force.
Idsinga said police did not find any additional remains during the dig, but said investigators may "revisit the scene once the weather warms up." Police previously had to thaw the ground hardened by weeks of bitter cold before commencing the dig.
Idsinga said the sprawling investigation, which has identified 30 properties of interest and borrowed resources from outside of Toronto, will concentrate on evidence gathered so far before venturing further afield.
"We are focusing now on identifying the remains that we have located," Idsinga told The Canadian Press, adding none of the other properties identified so far will replace the Mallory Crescent home as the primary investigation site.
"There is a ... location that we are interested in, but it won't get the same level of scrutiny unless some pending forensic tests give us the grounds to do so."
McArthur was charged on Jan. 18 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.
Late last month, police laid three more first-degree murder charges against McArthur related to the disappearances of Majeed Kayhan, 58, and Soroush Mahmudi, 50, as well as the death of Dean Lisowick, either 43 or 44, who had never been reported missing.
To identify the remains of the five other people investigators have recovered, police have said they will work with the RCMP to comb through the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains database.
Idsinga said the investigation, which he previously described as unprecedented in scope, is proceeding on multiple fronts.
Once police are finished with the evidence gathered so far, Idsinga said they will re-examine "literally hundreds" of missing persons cases in search of potential links to McArthur.
He also said police were taking a detailed look at McArthur's extensive digital presence, sifting through devices and social media profiles for evidence.
Toronto police have said hundreds of officers have taken part in the investigation, adding that cadaver dogs from neighbouring forces have been called in to relieve local canines exhausted from their efforts.