News / Toronto

Accused killer Bruce McArthur filed for bankruptcy years before murder charges

“Nothing about him said ‘I’m killing innocent men,'" McArthur’s neighbour Chantal Smith told Torstar.

A member of the Police Forensic Identification Services leaves his van and heads to the entrance of 95 Thorncliffe Park Dr. in East York, one of the residences associated with Bruce McArthur.

Torstar News Service / RICHARD LAUTENS

A member of the Police Forensic Identification Services leaves his van and heads to the entrance of 95 Thorncliffe Park Dr. in East York, one of the residences associated with Bruce McArthur.

When Bruce McArthur rode the elevator in his Thorncliffe Park building, he was often dressed in clothing fit for working outdoors. He exchanged pleasantries with neighbours, or complaints about building maintenance issues. He often carried baked goods, or bags full of ingredients to make them.

“Nothing about him said ‘I’m killing innocent men,’" neighbour Chantal Smith told Torstar.

On Thursday, 66-year-old McArthur was arrested for the murder of missing men Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. He likely killed others, too, police said in a press conference.

Since the news broke, Smith and her husband have been racking their memories. Did they miss something? A warning sign? “Jeez, can you think of anything?” they asked each other. They’ve come up empty.

But Thomas Donald Bruce McArthur’s troubles were on the public record long before the murder charges on Thursday, which have yet to be proven in court.

McArthur declared bankruptcy in 1999, listing a property in Oshawa he owned with his former wife, Janice. The pair sold the property in 2000.

McArthur and Janice appear to have two children: a daughter and a son. When Torstar contacted Janice’s sister on Friday, McArthur’s former brother-in-law answered the phone. “No comment,” he said, before hanging up.

Two neighbours told Torstar that McArthur had been living with a man before his arrest.

McArthur was a self-employed landscaper. Born in October 1951, he attended high school in Fenelon Falls, and his now-disabled Facebook profile was filled with photographs of family and outings in Toronto’s LGBTQ community.

McArthur also appeared to be connected on Facebook to Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam, one of three middle-aged men of similar ethnicity and active in the Church and Wellesley area who went missing between 2010 and 2012.

McArthur attended Blue Jays games and events at Roy Thomson Hall, and posted photos of York Regional Police officers during last year’s Pride parade. A profile that appears to belong to McArthur was active on Silver Daddies, a dating site for “mature gay men.”

Photographs suggested he worked as a mall Santa during the holiday season. Smith says he often appeared in their building with elaborately decorated cupcakes and cakes, and was delighted to show them off if someone complimented his work.

“Oh, you’re baking up a storm this weekend!” Smith’s husband would joke.

Police searched the Thorncliffe Park building for evidence on Friday. Forensic Identification Services were on scene, clad in white hooded protective suits with covers over their shoes and blue gloves on their hands.

On Friday morning at College Park, McArthur made his first appearance. He’s represented by lawyer Marianne Salih. Salih declined to speak with Torstar when she was reached by phone Friday afternoon, saying she had someone in custody on the other line. She pledged to return Torstar's reporter’s call, but did not.

“It’s just so sad,” said Smith, looking back on her former neighbour. She and her husband weren’t close with McArthur, but they interacted regularly and parked on the same floor. Now, she’s looking back and asking questions about mundane encounters.

“I told him to have a nice day. What did he do with that day?”

With files from Jaren Kerr and Vjosa Isai

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