Day: February 5, 2019

Police: School bus driver shot after crash in Minneapolis

Minneapolis police say the driver of a school bus was shot following an apparent crash.

Police spokesman John Elder says a suspect is in custody and the driver’s injuries are not life-threatening. The incident happened Tuesday afternoon on Interstate 35W south of the city. It’s unclear if children were on the bus at the time of the shooting, but Elder says there were no other injuries.

Elder says the driver is contracted for the Minneapolis school district.

Police had no immediate details on the crash prior to the shooting.

The Associated Press

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Serial killer Bruce McArthur plucked his victims from margins of society

TORONTO — When Bruce McArthur chose to kill, he looked to the margins of society to find his prey.

While all eight of the men he admitted murdering had ties to Toronto’s gay community, most of them were further isolated due to a combination of racial, cultural or economic factors.

As the facts surrounding McArthur’s crimes came to light at the 67-year-old’s sentencing hearing this week, those with ties to the communities his victims belonged to say it’s time to explore the issues that made those men so vulnerable.

“It’s really shone a huge spotlight,” said Haran Vijayanathan, executive director of the Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention. “It’s allowing us to really see some of these major cracks that actually create unsafe environments for many of our marginalized people.”

Vijayanathan, who has worked closely with friends and relatives of many of McArthur’s victims, echoed language similar to what emerged in court when describing the men McArthur targeted.

A statement of fact presented at the sentencing hearing outlined the clear victim profile McArthur developed between when his killing streak began in 2010 and his arrest in 2018.

Six of his eight victims were of South Asian descent, often sharing physical characteristics such as beards. Many of the men kept their sexuality hidden from friends and family, pursuing homosexual encounters furtively using dating apps. Several also grappled with substance abuse, poverty, or unstable housing situations, court heard.

Crown lawyer Michael Cantlon said McArthur actively “sought out and exploited these vulnerabilities to continue his crimes undetected” — an assessment shared by Vijayanathan.

Cultural attitudes towards homosexuality almost certainly played a role in keeping some of McArthur’s victims isolated, Vijayanathan said.

Those who grow up in cultures where homosexuality is heavily stigmatized often find themselves trying to manage the anxieties of family members and friends whose upbringing leaves them fearful that their loved ones’ sexual orientation may place them in danger, Vijayanathan said.

Homosexuality is illegal in 77 countries and punishable by death in seven, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Senior Resettlement Officer Michael Casasola said many of those identifying as LGBTQ are fleeing high levels of persecution and harassment, adding the organization frequently “prioritizes” such cases for resettlement in a country that offers stronger protections.

“Unfortunately they often find themselves in countries where they face detention, face persecution, face injustice because of their sexual orientation,” he said.

Vijayanathan said many men yield to family pressure to marry women in order to mitigate the cultural stigma they face.

Such may have been the case for Abdulbasir Faizi and Soroush Mahmudi, both of whom had wives who offered emotional victim impact statements on Tuesday.

Another married Middle Eastern man known only as John was visiting McArthur’s apartment in secret and was likely moments from becoming a ninth homicide victim when police arrested the former landscaper, court heard.

Another victim, Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, was further isolated from his family by virtue of being a Sri Lankan refugee claimant who came to Canada aboard the MV Sun Sea vessel in 2010.

Piranavan Thangavel, one of his fellow Sun Sea passengers, told court of how McArthur’s actions have destroyed the sense of safety many refugees thought they’d found in Canada.

“For us now to hear of such a horrible death, we who live in this world as refugees feel like there is no safety for us anywhere in the world,” he said in his victim impact statement. “Now, when we meet new people, talk to them or seek employment from them there is an untold fear in our hearts following this incident.”

Vijayanathan said Kanagaratnam also had to grapple with precarious housing, a circumstance he shared with McArthur victims Selim Esen and Dean Lisowick.

Lisowick, whom Vijayanathan said worked in the sex trade in Toronto’s gay village, was never reported missing after vanishing in 2016.

The disappearances of Skandaraj Navaratnam and Majeed Kayhan, which dated back to 2010 and 2012 respectively, generated little attention outside of the gay village where both were regulars.

Only the 2017 disappearance of Andrew Kinsman — the only man not to match McArthur’s established ethnic or socioeconomic victim profile — triggered widespread attention. Court heard that a notation in Kinsman’s calendar ultimately helped police focus their investigation on McArthur.

Vijayanathan said most of McArthur’s victims fell into demographics that can be fearful of law enforcement, cut off from social supports and ostracized from society at large.  Those factors, he said, likely played a direct role in their undetected disappearances and deaths.

“It’s the homophobia, it’s the classism that exists within Canadian society as well as racialized communities,” he said. “All of those factors played in.”

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

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Consecutive life terms sought for serial killer in Canada

TORONTO — A Canadian prosecutor asked a judge Tuesday to sentence serial killer Bruce McArthur to consecutive life sentences so he won’t be eligible for parole for 50 years, when he would be 116.

McArthur pleaded guilty last week to eight counts of first-degree murder. The former landscaper sexually assaulted, killed and dismembered men he met in Toronto’s Gay Village district over seven years.

The most lenient potential sentence he faces would be life in prison with no chance for parole eligibility for 25 years.

Justice John McMahon said even if the 67-yeard-old McArthur got the most lenient sentence it would be still a life sentence, and while he might apply for parole in 25 years, he wouldn’t necessarily get it. McMahon noted McArthur saved the families of the victims a long brutal trial. He said he expected to hand down a sentence Friday.

“The certainty that Mr. McArthur will never leave prison is a fit result,” prosecutor Craig Harper said.

McArthur has been in prison since January 2018 while investigators discovered dismembered remains in planters at home he used as storage for his business.

He also staged photos of some of his victims after they died, posing corpses in fur coats and cigars in their mouths. McArthur would later access some of the photos long after the killings

“He created a macabre cemetery of his victims,” Harper said. “It was an act of self-degradation and self-gratification. He wanted to re-live each of his murders.”

The victims fit a pattern: Most were of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent and lived on the margins of Canadian society. Their disappearances attracting little attention.

One victim hid the fact that he was gay from his Muslim family. Another was a recent immigrant with a drug problem. Another was a refugee who was ordered deported. Another alleged victim was homeless, smoked crack cocaine and worked as a prostitute.

Many of Toronto’s LGBQT community said for years a serial killer was at work.

James Miglin, McArthur’s lawyer, called the crimes horrific and acknowledged the case calls for the most serious penalties and sanctions under the law.

But Miglin said the practical reality is that McArthur would likely never get parole if he gets the most lenient sentence.

McArthur declined to address the court when asked by the judge.

“No, your honour. I’ve discussed this with my counsel and I don’t want to say anything,” McArthur said.

McArthur pleaded guilty to killing Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.

The prosecution said that a frequent site of the killings was McArthur’s bedroom and that he repeatedly strangled his victims with rope and a metal bar.

The cases ranged from 2010 to 2017.

Criminal experts say it is unusual for someone to become a serial killer later in life, but the prosecution said there is no evidence of earlier murders.

Rob Gillies, The Associated Press

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Friends, relatives of victims to speak at McArthur sentencing hearing today

TORONTO — A sentencing hearing continues today for Bruce McArthur, a serial killer who preyed on men from Toronto’s gay village for years before he was arrested.

Friends and relatives of McArthur’s eight victims are expected to continue reading their victim impact statements.

Many wept in court Monday as prosecutors provided previously unheard details of the killings, which took place between 2010 and 2017.

Crown attorney Michael Cantlon told the court McArthur took photographs of his victims’ bodies posed in various states of undress and kept the images on his computer.

Court heard McArthur would then dismember his victims and dump their remains in planters around a residential property in midtown Toronto, where he stored his landscaping equipment, or in a ravine behind the home.

Police arrested McArthur in January 2018 and charged him for the murders of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. They later charged McArthur for the murders of Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.

He pleaded guilty last week to eight counts of first-degree murder.

Toronto police have faced criticism for how they investigated the eight men’s disappearances, with some saying the force ignored the LGTBQ’s concerns about a possible serial killer. 

The Canadian Press

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Triple Homicide Florida

Triple Homicide Florida

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — A man accused of killing his ex-wife’s parents and brother after they began to suspect that he had also killed her ambushed them with a hammer just before Christmas, according to newly released court documents.

Investigators eventually tracked Shelby Nealy, 25, to Lakewood, Ohio, thanks in part to a pizza he had delivered to the home of Richard and Laura Ivancic after the couple and their adult son Nicholas were bludgeoned on Dec. 15 and 16, court records said. Their bodies weren’t discovered until New Year’s Day, after the older son of Richard Ivancic contacted authorities when he couldn’t reach his father. Nealy was arrested Jan. 3, with his two children, ages 2 and 3, in a vehicle stolen from his former mother-in-law.

This undated photo made available by the Tarpon Springs Police Dept., Fla., shows Laura Ann Ivancic.  (Tarpon Springs Police Dept. via AP)

The Tampa Bay Times reports Nealy was extradited to Florida on Saturday and faces three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and one count of grand theft. He’s being held without bond. Nealy hasn’t yet been charged in the death of Jamie Ivancic, who authorities believe was killed in January 2018. Her remains were found in the days after Nealy’s arrest.

This undated photo made available by the Tarpon Springs Police Dept., Fla., shows Richard Ivancic. (Tarpon Springs Police Dept. via AP)

Nealy confessed to investigators, and said he killed the Ivancics after they began getting suspicious because they had not talked to her in nearly a year, records show. Detectives said Nealy used his ex-wife’s phone to send text messages and pictures of their two young children to her parents.

Investigators pieced together a timeline of what happened at the Ivancic’s home in Tarpon Springs, which is near Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Police haven’t said whether he broke into the home, or was invited in. But records show he attacked Richard Ivancic, 71, on Dec. 15. When Laura Ivancic, 59, returned home, she was attacked in the kitchen with the same hammer. Investigators said Nealy wrapped the two bodies in rugs and put them in the bedroom.

Later that evening, Nicholas Ivancic, 25, came home and was asleep on the sofa when he was killed early on Dec. 16, records show. The family’s three dogs were also killed.

This undated photo made available by the Tarpon Springs Police Dept., Fla., shows Nicholas Ivancic.  (Tarpon Springs Police Dept. via AP)

The complaint details evidence detectives used to track Nealy, including video that captured him buying supplies used in the killings at a nearby Home Depot and selling jewelry at pawn shops between Dec. 16 and 18. He used his fingerprint to complete those transactions, records show.

Detectives said Nealy used his phone to order a Domino’s pizza, which was delivered to the Ivancic’s home Dec. 21.

The children are now in state custody.

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