Another murder charge was laid Wednesday against Bruce McArthur, bringing the number of people he is alleged to have killed to seven.
McArthur, 66, appeared in court via video this morning to face his latest first-degree murder charge in the death of 42-year-old Abdulbasir Faizi, one of three missing men at the centre of Project Houston.
The College Park courtroom was moderately full, mostly with media there for McArthur’s appearance. He appeared via video dressed in an orange jumpsuit, standing close to the camera.
Faizi’s family has known about his death for two weeks, a relative told the Star. On March 29, his brother Farid Faizi changed his Facebook cover photo to a yellow candle in the corner of a black rectangle. Written across it in bold white font is the Quranic verse that Muslims read on the occasion of someone’s death: “Surely we belong to Allah and to Him we return.”
Faizi was an immigrant from Afghanistan. He worked as an assistant machine operator at a now defunct, printing company in Mississauga. He was last seen leaving his workplace on Kitimat Rd., at about 7 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2010. He was reported missing to Peel Region police the next day.
Faizi lived in Brampton with his wife and two daughters. His last known location was in the Church and Wellesley Sts. area.
His car, a 2002 Nissan Sentra, was found abandoned on Moore Ave., near St. Clair Ave. and Mount Pleasant Rd. — a short drive away from where McArthur worked as a landscaper.
The charge comes just hours before Toronto police are scheduled to provide an update on the ongoing investigation.
Police are expected to update the public at 1:30 p.m. on three aspects of the investigation.
The latest news comes one month after police took the rare step of releasing a photograph of a deceased man who investigators alleged was a victim of McArthur’s. The photo was released with the hope that a member of the public may be able to identify him.
McArthur, a self-employed landscaper, was arrested on Jan. 18 and was previously charged in the deaths of Selim Esen, Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi and Dean Lisowick.
Police have recovered the remains of seven people from planters found at a home in midtown Toronto where McArthur worked and stored equipment.
Police told the media earlier that they had identified three sets of remains from McArthur’s clients’ house so far: Kinsman, 49; Mahmudi, 50; and Navaratnam, 40.
In the wake of this case, the Toronto police board voted unanimously to commission an external investigation into how the force conducts missing-persons probes.
The independent investigation, initiated by groups within the LGBTQ community and brought forward by Mayor John Tory, comes in the wake of escalating questions about police action — or inaction — in the disappearances of the missing people from Toronto’s Gay Village.
But the review will not directly address police conduct connected to the ongoing McArthur investigation or any past police contacts with the accused killer, due to the ongoing investigation and future trial.
Questions have been mounting in recent weeks about past interactions between McArthur and police, following revelations that police questioned McArthur in 2016 in connection to an alleged assault on another man. He was let go.
The following year, McArthur is alleged to have killed Kinsman and Esen; police allege he killed Lisowick between April 2016 and March 2017.
The 2016 interaction was the second time police spoke with McArthur in the years before he was charged with murder. McArthur was questioned around the time Toronto police launched Project Houston, sources have told the Star.
Project Houston was the Toronto police investigation into three men who went missing between 2010 and 2012 — Navaratnam, Faizi and Kayhan. That probe ended after 18 months when police could find “no evidence to suggest criminal activity.”
McArthur’s next court date is April 25.