In the late 1970s, police were confronted with 14 murders of gay men that followed a similar pattern of “overkill.” Seven of those murders are still unsolved.
A financial analyst, tied to a bed, strangled, and stabbed to death. A disco manager, stabbed 100 times in his blood-soaked apartment. A part-time lecturer at the University of Toronto, found naked with stab wounds to the back and chest.
These gay men are counted among seven similar unsolved murders in Toronto between 1975 and 1978.
The recent arrest of Bruce McArthur on five murder charges may feel like a case of déjà vu for some in the Church and Wellesley Village who wrestled with the unanswered question of whether these men were being preyed upon by a serial killer four decades ago.
Fourteen gay men were murdered in that period, the Star reported then, but those seven cases are cold to this day.
There are close to 600 cold cases in Toronto. With active crime scenes taking precedence as police continue to comb through the properties of McArthur’s landscaping clients, revisiting cold cases is a secondary priority in the investigation, said Det.-Sgt. Stacy Gallant of Toronto Police’s Homicide Squad Cold Case unit.
“We have to look at each one and see … is it worthy of further attention to see whether or not there could be something there linking it to him,” he said
A drag queen gets pelted by eggs outside St. Charles Tavern in the 1970s. (GERALD HANNON / CANADIAN LESBIAN AND GAY ARCHIVES)