The Truth About The First Known Survivor Of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur

In 2019, Ontario native Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder. One by one, as the names of the victims were read in court, he whispered "guilty," as the CBC recounts. Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushna Kanagaratnam: these are the men whose lives were not only been taken from 2010 to 2017, but whose families had to relive the entire grieving process during McArthur's trial. McArthur was "gaunt," his head shaven, beard gone, the once mall Santa and landscaper transformed into a convicted serial killer.

As another CBC article states, McArthur's victims were centralized around Toronto's gay district, The Village. McArthur himself had been closeted for many years, married with children, before coming out to his wife in the late '90s after pursuing relationships with men for the first time in his 40s, as the Sudbury Star says. He entered The Village and found himself face-to-face with "immigrants and refugees" from nations where homosexual relationships are punishable by death. Six of McArthur's victims were of East Asian and Middle Eastern — particularly Turkish — descent. In turn, his case has highlighted the underlying, systemic tension between Toronto's police force and its migrant population, despite the city's progressivism being a beacon for those from various countries and backgrounds.

One of McArthur's victims, though, Mark Henderson, survived. He tried to warn the police, but they didn't take him seriously. To this day, Henderson blames himself for not doing more.

Assaulted with a pipe in broad daylight on Halloween

"Every muscle in his face was clenched, and he had the look like a Komodo dragon. He just was a reptile. He was full of rage," Henderson said in an interview recounted on CTV News. On Halloween, 2001, during the day, Henderson held the door to his apartment building open for McArthur, whom he believed was merely going down the hall to the building superintendent's office. When Henderson unlocked his front door to enter his apartment, McArthur reamed him on the head with a pipe.

"I remember feeling the indentation in my skull. He had popped my skull in. I have a nursing background and I see cerebral spinal fluid and blood coming down. And I think I'm going to lose consciousness in a matter of seconds. And he was not going to stop." McArthur struck Henderson repeatedly on the head, fracturing hands and fingers in the process, as well. Henderson says that passersby might have overlooked the brawl as just another drunk, Halloween fight.

Directly after the attack, McArthur went to the police and turned himself in. During the subsequent trial, the courts blamed Henderson, likely because he was a sex worker in addition to being a nurse. McArthur was convicted of a "minor assault with no jail time served," and by 2014, before police considered him a suspect in The Village murders, he applied for a pardon. His assault on Mark Henderson was expunged from his criminal record.