A woman who unwittingly helped a Canadian serial killer dispose of his victims has shared her shock at learning the corpses of seven men were buried in her backyard.
Bruce McArthur, 69, was sentenced to life in prison in 2019 after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting, killing and dismembering eight men he met in Toronto’s Gay Village over a seven-year period.
All but one of McArthur’s victims was found buried in planters on the property of Karen Fraser and her husband Ron Smith.
The couple had agreed to let McArthur, store tools for his landscaping business in their garage in exchange for him cutting their grass and tending to the yard.
Fraser spoke to Fox News this week and recounted the day she learned tools weren’t the only thing McArthur was storing at her house.
Bruce McArthur, 69, (pictured) was sentenced to live in prison in 2019 after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting, killing and dismembering eight men he met in Toronto’s Gay Village over a seven-year period.
Karen Fraser appeared in a new Oxygen documentary (pictured) and described her horror at learning that McArthur had buried seven of his victims in her yard
Investigators spent a week combing through Fraser’s yard and the area around it in July 2018
Fraser said she was completely surprised when police arrived at her home in January 2018 and told her she had to leave within five minutes so they could perform a search after Arthur was arrested and accused of murder.
‘Half of me was backing away and staring in horror,’ she said. ‘The other half was trying to think clearly.
‘They didn’t have a search warrant and I was fully aware of it. I really didn’t have to pay any attention to them if I didn’t want to.
‘But when the officer said a serious crime had been committed and Bruce McArthur had been arrested, I then knew it was serious.
‘The officer was clearly upset so something big was happening. That was the first of many decisions, to have faith in the system. So we cooperated and left.’
Fraser said she initially couldn’t believe that McArthur was guilty of any crimes, because the man she’s known for years was quiet, friendly and never caused any trouble.
‘Just because the police believed he was guilty, didn’t make him guilty,’ Fraser said. ‘I defended him for a while.
She said her perception changed one night when a detective told her: ‘Karen, don’t waste your sympathy on that man. We’ve never had as much evidence against someone as we have against him. Don’t waste your good feelings on that man.’
The home did not belong to McArthur, but rather couple Ron Smith and Karen Fraser (above) who were horrified to learn the sick use that their property had been put to by McArthur
Fraser said she’d met McArthur (left and right) more than a decade ago. She described him as ‘considerate, generous and cheerful’
Fraser said she’d met McArthur more than a decade ago around the time that he was launching his landscaping company.
When he offered to take care of her yard in exchange for storing his equipment at her house, Fraser said: ‘I thought I had made the best deal ever.’
‘He was very efficient and liked his job,’ she said. ‘He was very talented at it. He was very pleasant and spoke about his children fondly. He was also an excellent grandfather.
‘He was just a nice man who seemed very happy with the choices he made in life.
‘I never once saw him lose his temper with anyone. He was considerate, generous and cheerful.’
Fraser said she was aware of rumors of men disappearing from the city’s Gay Village but never had any reason to suspect McArthur.
After McArthur’s arrest Fraser learned that she’d actually met two of his victims – Skandaraj Navaratnam and Majeed Kayhan – who worked with the killer.
‘Bruce always had people helping him, so I didn’t think much of it,’ she said of the time she met Navaratnam, a 40-year-old refugee from Sri Lanka who disappeared in 2010.
‘I remember Skandaraj being very charming. He attracted your attention right away. Fabulous smile. He was well dressed and always laughing. I never saw him again.’
Kayhan, a 58-year-old immigrant from Afghanistan, disappeared two years later in 2012.
‘I felt really sorry for him,’ she said of Kayhan. ‘He was trying to work but he was poorly dressed.
‘My impression was that he never touched a shovel before in his life. He clearly didn’t want to do it. I remember Bruce was just annoyed with him.
‘About three weeks later, I emailed Bruce and asked if he kept his job. I never got a response.’
Fraser said Kayhan’s body was later found just a few feet away from where she’d met him.
It was one of seven bodies buried in the planters in Fraser’s yard. The eighth body was found in a ravine behind her property.
Fraser and her husband are seen outside their home in Toronto as investigators began searching for the remains of McArthur’s victims in January 2018
Fraser had allowed McArthur to store landscaping tools in the garage of her home (pictured)
Investigators sift through compost looking for human remains behind Fraser’s home in 2018
Three years later Fraser said she is still haunted by the fact that the bodies were right under her nose for so long.
‘On a hot day, if we saw the flowers drooping a bit, my partner and I would water them,’ she said. ‘So we were watering the planters where the victims were buried.
‘I can’t give you words to describe how incredibly horrible that was. And cruel. It’s just every negative word you can come up with. Sometimes your mind just gets overwhelmed by it all.’
Fraser spoke to Fox News ahead of the release of a new documentary about the case, Catching a Serial Killer: Bruce McArthur, which is set to air on Oxygen on Sunday as part of the network’s ‘Serial Killer Week’.
McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of murder in early 2019. His victims were: Kayhan, Navaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Abdulbasir Faizi Kirushna Kanagaratnam, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman.
The killings all took place between 2010 and 2017 and all involved sexual assault or forcible confinement.
Several of the victims – most of whom were of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent – were strangled.
McArthur became a suspect in 2017 when his final victim, Kinsman, was reported missing after he was last seen getting into the landscaper’s van.
While most of the cases garnered little publicity, Kinsman’s instantly drew attention because the 49-year-old former bartender was a well-known LGBTQ activist in Toronto.
McArthur was arrested for Kinsman’s murder after police found the victim’s blood and DNA in the van, which he had sold to a junk yard.
Investigators also found the ligature McArthur used to strangle Kinsman.
Police raided McArthur’s home on January 18, 2018, and discovered a naked man handcuffed to his bed.
They also discovered a directory with nine subfolders – eight for the men he killed and one for the man found at the time of McArthur’s arrest.
McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of murder in early 2019. He is pictured center in a court sketch from a hearing where he was sentenced to life in prison
WHO WERE THE VICTIMS OF TORONTO SERIAL KILLER
Toronto landscaper Bruce McArthur was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of eight men.
Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37
Immigrated to Canada from Sri Lanka in 2010 and lived in Scarborough.
He has no immediate family in Canada and was never reported as missing.
His remains were only identified after police released a forensic sketch to the public.
Skandaraj ‘Skanda’ Navaratnam, 40
Reported missing on September 16, 2010.
A refugee from Sri Lanka, he was last seen leaving Zipperz, a now closed gay bar in Toronto.
Friends said McArthur employed and had a sexual relationship with Navaratnam.
Abdulbasir Faizi, 44
Last seen leaving his workplace at about 7pm on December 28, 2010. His last known location was in the area of Church and Wellesley Streets.
An immigrant from Afghanistan, Fazi worked as a machine operator at a printing company.
He was married with children but secretly used gay dating apps for older and large men.
Majeed Kayhan, 58
Reported missing on October 25, 2012.
An immigrant from Afghanistan who frequented bars in the Gay Village near Church and Wellesley Streets.
His remains were not found in the flower planters with the other victims.
Soroush Marmudi, 50
Reported missing by his family in Scarborough in August 2015.
Marmudi was not known to openly associate with Toronto’s gay scene.
Dean Lisowick, 43
A homeless occupant of the shelter system who had not been reported missing when his remains were discovered.
Police believe he was murdered in April of 2016.
Selim Esen, 44
Last seen April 14, 2017 in the Yonge and Bloor area.
A Turkish native, he frequented the Gay Village area and Kensington Market and often had a small plastic suitcase on wheels similar to a carry-on bag.
His relationship with McArthur is unclear.
Andrew Kinsman, 49
Last seen June 26, 2017 at 71 Winchester Street.
Friends begin posting his image in the area and surrounding neighborhoods soon after he disappeared.
Police believe he had a sexual relationship with McArthur.