Vigil honours victims of serial killer Bruce McArthur
Kayla Goodfield, CTV News Toronto
Published Sunday, February 10, 2019 4:13PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 10, 2019 8:34PM EST
A vigil was held at a Riverdale church on Sunday night to honour the eight victims of serial killer Bruce McArthur.
Beginning at 7 p.m., the ceremony took place at the Metropoiltan Community Church of Toronto.
The vigil was held two days after the 67-year-old former landscaper was handed a mandatory life sentence for brutally murdering men with ties to Toronto’s gay village between 2010 and 2017. McArthur will be eligible to apply for parole at the age of 91.
On Jan. 29, McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam.
As McArthur pleaded guilty, Crown attorney Michael Cantlon provided a basic overview of the eight men’s deaths saying many of them were “sexual in nature.”
McArthur’s arrest in January 2018 was the culmination of two separate police investigations into the disappearance of men within the city’s gay village. The two investigations were dubbed Project Houston and Project Prism.
Speaking at the vigil, the church’s senior pastor Rev. Jeff Rock said everyone in attendance was in a “safe place to shed their tears.”
“Eight men have died,” he said. “Senseless violence has been perpetrated on us and on them. People we know and care about are gone and our safety too has been shattered.”
“Nothing we do can change the past and so we mourn. Now we can begin the journey of healing as we move together to the future, as we take a stand against this.”
Speaking after Rock, Rev. Andrew Holmes said McArthur’s action have changed the community forever.
“We come with hearts full of grief, anger and sorrow. We come as family, friends, partners and leaders – we do not stand alone, but with one another in community,” he said. “We remember that eight candles represent a life taken and a life that will never be forgotten and a ninth candle represents the violence that has been perpetrated to survivors and to all of us by these senseless acts.”
Holmes said love is stronger than death and encouraged mourners to use their love to move away from anger and towards action, working for change.