Alleged 'potted-plant serial killer' hit with seventh murder charge as police try to identify remains

The alleged Canadian serial killer accused of burying his victims in garden planters is now facing a seventh murder charge, prosecutors in Toronto announced Wednesday.

Bruce McArthur, who appeared in court through a video link, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Abdulbasir Faizi, an assistant machine operator at a printing company who vanished in Toronto on Dec. 29, 2010. 

"For me at least there's a sense of relief because he didn't abandon anyone," a relative who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press said after learning about Faizi's fate. "He didn't run away."

McArthur, 66, was wearing an orange jumpsuit and was standing close to the camera during his appearance, according to the Toronto Star.

Shortly after Faizi disappeared in 2010, his Muslim family accessed his computer and was shocked to discover he had been secretly going to bathhouses in Toronto's Gay Village neighborhood and was on gay dating apps for older and large men, the Associated Press reported.

When they then went to police, officers suggested he had probably just left, the relative said. Faizi's wife divorced him, thinking he abandoned her and their two young daughters.

"She didn't know. He wasn't out. As far as she knows they were married and they were happy and he abandoned her and the daughters," the relative said.

But she added that she always knew he didn't run away.

"It didn't make sense. He didn't take his passport and he didn't take any money. It didn't make sense that police had this theory that he ran away," she said.

"I feel very guilty now because I didn't do enough."

Toronto police added Wednesday that they are looking at fifteen homicide cases between 1975 and 1997 to see if McArthur has any connection to them. 

“I’ve got no evidence to say he’s linked to any of the cases, but bearing in mind the number of people we’re alleging he’s killed, we’re going to take a close look at some outstanding cold cases from the Gay Village in Toronto,” Toronto Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga had said last week.

Investigators believe McArthur met his modern-day victims through dating apps.

They have not specified how the victims were killed. As of Wednesday, authorities were still trying to identify some of the human remains found in planters at a Toronto property McArthur used as storage for his landscaping business.

Toronto police uncovered seven sets of remains there in total and have identified those belonging to Faizi, Andrew Kinsman, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Selim Eisen and Dean Lisowick.

One set of remains has yet to be identified. But McArthur is facing murder charges related to the deaths of those six men and Majeed Kayhan.

Police said Wednesday they have narrowed down the possible identities of a dead man believed to be another victim of McArthur’s, whose photo they released in early March, to 22.

They also said they are planning to look at 75 properties in the Toronto area for any evidence of other victims.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.