Horrific details are emerging in court as Bruce McArthur is being sentenced for his brutal murders of eight men between 2010 and 2017.
The case brings up tough questions about McArthur’s sick, twisted mind and a criminal justice system that many say failed to act quickly enough.
McArthur fits into the broad category of serial killers called “hedonistic,” says Brock University psychopathy and forensics expert Angela Book. Hedonistic killers tend to have violent sexual fantasies that they play out through their grisly murders, reflecting an element of sadism.
These types of crimes are also more likely to be committed by psychopaths, who lack remorse and empathy, and are willing to exploit others for their own needs, says Book, Professor of Psychology.
“Research from our lab suggests that psychopathic individuals share traits with predators in the animal world, including the ability to judge vulnerability in the people around them,” she says. “Psychopathic serial killers see their own fantasies as more important than the lives of their victims.”
She notes that the 67-year-old landscaper is atypical of sexual serial killers, who tend to start their violent crimes in their 20s.
“Interestingly, some are speculating that he may have started in the 1970s when 14 men were brutally murdered in Toronto,” says Book.
Voula Marinos, Brock University’s crime and sentencing expert, says that bias could have played a role in the relatively long time the criminal justice system took to arrest and charge McArthur.
She notes the presence of a “considerable historical tension between the LGBTQ community and the police in Toronto” and that, while McArthur took great pains to hide his crimes, “his activities did not go unnoticed.”
“Calls of bias against gay men resulting from this case will hopefully lead to significant changes in policing and missing persons protocols,” says Marinos, Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies.
Within the court itself, the extensive victim impact statements and use of consecutive sentences are meant to strongly condemn and denounce McArthur’s crimes, she says.
“Consecutive sentences in this case are as much, if not more, for the public’s confidence in the justice system as they are for the offender,” says Marinos. “The public and victims’ families could benefit from the very public nature of the sentencing process and the lengths by which the judge has gone to ensure restorative justice is achieved, to the extent possible, for victims’ families and the LGBTQ community.”