News / Toronto

Community reacts with anguish, relief as arrest in case of missing men 'confirmed worst fears'

“I think I knew on some basic level that Andrew was dead, but obviously to hear it confirmed is so much more,” a friend of Andrew Kinsman told the Star after police charged a man with first degree murder in the disappearances of two men.

Francis Yap, an administrator of Toronto’s Missing Rainbow Community Facebook page, was relieved at news of an arrest in the disappearances of two men last year. “I guess all of us are hoping that we’ll know more about it soon enough."

Torstar News Service

Francis Yap, an administrator of Toronto’s Missing Rainbow Community Facebook page, was relieved at news of an arrest in the disappearances of two men last year. “I guess all of us are hoping that we’ll know more about it soon enough."

The news of Bruce McArthur’s arrest in the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen sent a complicated ripple of emotions through the community they lived in, with friends and residents voicing everything from shock to anguish to relief.

“Partially, it’s sort of a sense of shock,” said Candace Shaw, a friend of Kinsman’s. “I think I knew on some basic level that Andrew was dead, but obviously to hear it confirmed is so much more.”

“It’s a mix of — I mean I’m very, very glad that they have made an arrest. I’m glad that they have so much confidence that they have got the right person.”

But with that relief comes a deep sense of sadness, Shaw said.

“When you don’t have the answer to a question, there’s still, you know — your mind and your heart allow some hope. And when you know the answer, there is a finality to that that is quite sad.”

Shaw described Kinsman as “the kind of guy who would do things for other people that no one noticed until he was gone.”

He was “a really good person with a really good heart,” she said, the kind of person whose absence has been keenly felt.

She said he helped in ways that people noticed immediately, but that in her experience, “Andrew touched a lot of people in a lot of ways that they may not have ever realized until he wasn’t there anymore.”

Shaw described Kinsman as someone she’d crack a beer with.

“He is missed every day in a million tiny ways,” she said. “Every once in a while, I will think, ‘oh, I should talk to Andrew about that.’ And he’s not there. Or, ‘oh, that was something Andrew used to do.’ And now someone else has to take care of it.

For Francis Yap, an administrator of Toronto’s Missing Rainbow Community Facebook page, news of the arrest made him “actually kind of happy in a way.”

“I guess all of us are hoping that we’ll know more about it soon enough, to find out what is the motive behind it, what is the evidence that police have found and how did this come about.”

Yap said the Facebook group for missing people was set up because ignorance is “dangerous.”

“People don’t just disappear like that without trace,” he said.

Nicole Borthwick, another administrator of the Facebook page, told the Star in a message that she’s relieved there was an arrest.

“Although we, as Andrew’s friends and colleagues, would have liked Andrew to be found alive, this discovery brings some (although not all, because until there is a firm discovery of Andrew) closure to those of us waiting for news in his case,” Borthwick wrote.

“We only hope that now an arrest has been made, the police can start actively looking for Andrew’s whereabouts, so his friends, family and colleagues can have complete closure and give Andrew a proper burial and send-off, and his family some peace.”

The 519 released a statement saying they grieve the loss of Kinsman and Esen.

“It is a tragic day for the LGBTQ community, our neighbourhood and the city,” they wrote. “The 519 stands with and by the community in this time of grief and grave concern, and offers our deepest condolences to the families and friends of Andrew and Selim.”

The 519 said they would offer resources and support to the community.

In a statement, ACToronto, an organization that provides free help to people living with or affected by HIV, reacted to the deaths of Kinsman, who worked in the HIV community, and Esen.

“While Andrew and [Selim] disappeared many months ago, many within the community kept up hope that they would be found,” ACT said in a statement. “Today’s announcement confirmed our worst fears.”

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