Murray River’s Glenn MacLeod was simply blown away to learn he crossed paths with alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.
“Well, it’s unbelievable to tell you the truth,’’ says the 69-year-old MacLeod.
“You can’t believe that’s the same person you met…it just completely boggles your mind.’’
It was in late July of 1997 that MacLeod first met McArthur, the 66-year-old landscaper now charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick and Souroush Mahmudi.
Investigators believe McArthur used his landscaping business to conceal human remains. After searching a property linked to McArthur in midtown Toronto, police discovered skeletal remains in the bottom of large planters that belong to at least three yet-to-be identified people.
And, in an alarming development earlier this week, police say they found the remains of at least six people, including those of Andrew Kinsman, who went missing in June 2017, on a property where McArthur worked and stored landscaping equipment.
Some facts on alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur:
- Born on Oct. 8, 1951
- Spent his childhood with his parents and sister near Woodville, Ont.
- Spent at least some of his 30s and 40s working as a travelling salesman, pitching socks and underwear across Ontario
- By 1986, he was married to Janice (nee Campbell) with two children, one girl and one boy
- Convicted of assault in 2001 after attacking a man with a metal pipe
MacLeod finds the story chilling – and the fact he knew McArthur unsettling.
MacLeod recalls McArthur’s visit to Prince Edward Island as being nothing more than an innocent vacation.
McArthur was touring the Maritimes with his then wife, Janice (nee Campbell).
MacLeod’s relative, a person who had attended for years the same Oshawa church as McArthur and Janice, lined the couple up to stay for free in a summer house that MacLeod took care of.
The pair stayed at the house on Cambridge Road for two nights, spending their days checking out parts of the Island.
MacLeod had occasion to speak with McArthur for 30 minutes or an hour each day, but it was conversation he cannot recall. Likely nothing more than small talk, he agrees.
He can, however, remember clearly the positive impression McArthur made.
“He was a fine gentleman,’’ says MacLeod.
“He was a fine man…he was a soft-spoken man. He seemed to be an easygoing man.’’
MacLeod would meet the couple again at a wedding in Oshawa in 1998. His opinion would remain extremely positive.
“You couldn’t say a bad word against them,’’ he says.
“They were just the finest people you could meet.’’
The pair told MacLeod they were impressed by their visit to P.E.I. and quite taken by the Confederation Bridge.
Interestingly, according to multiple media reports, McArthur gradually came out of the closet in the late 1990s. He left his wife and family in Oshawa in 1998 or 1999 and moved into Toronto.
Media reports surfacing last month that McArthur is an alleged serial killer rocked MacLeod’s relative, who does not want to be identified.
MacLeod was also floored by the news.
The McArthur that today faces multiple murder charges seems so far removed – both in appearance and behaviour – to the man MacLeod met 20 years ago.
First, MacLeod notes, McArthur transformed over the years from a slim man who made a living “distributing clothing ware’’ to a burly, rugged-looking landscaper.
“He completely looks different,’’ says MacLeod.
And, of course, there is the fact McArthur is alleged to have killed men he met in Toronto’s Gay Village, before burying them in the gardens he tended to across the city.
“It’s just the old thing, you can’t really judge a book by its cover,’’ muses MacLeod.
“You can never tell what a person will turn out like…there’s a lot of people live double lives and you don’t know it.’’
MacLeod says even if he had never met McArthur, he would be intrigued by the case.
Add the personal connection to McArthur, as innocent and inconsequential as it is – “just a man that was passing through here,’’ says MacLeod – ongoing media coverage of the high-profile case becomes that much more captivating for the Murray River resident.
“I certainly will keep following it,’’ he says.