Andrew Kinsman’s family is still searching for answers a day after a Toronto man was charged with first-degree murder in his disappearance and that of another man near the city’s Gay Village last spring.
“I want the details. I want to know what happened to him,” said Kinsman’s sister, Karen Coles, who has spent the last seven months scouring for clues.
“I hope he didn’t suffer,” she told CBC Toronto.
Bruce McArthur, 66, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the presumed deaths of Kinsman and Selim Esen on Thursday morning.
Kinsman, 49, went missing from the city’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood on June 26 — a day after the annual Pride parade — while Esen, 44, was last seen on April 16 near Yonge and Bloor streets, according to police. Both areas border on the city’s predominantly gay Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.
The disappearances sent waves of concern through Toronto’s LGBT community and led to speculation the incidents may be connected to other unsolved missing-persons cases in the area.
While police have not confirmed a connection, they previously established two task forces to investigate.
Project Prism was established in August to investigate the Kinsman and Esen cases, and shared information with Project Houston, launched in 2012 to probe the cases of three other men who vanished in the Church and Wellesley area that year.
The bodies of Kinsman and Esen have yet to be found, but police have a “pretty good idea” of the cause of death, Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga said Thursday.
Idsinga added that investigators believe McArthur may be responsible for other deaths.
McArthur appeared in a downtown courtroom on Friday morning.
Hours later, Kinsman’s siblings gathered at the 519, a community centre in the heart of Church and Wellesley, to thank friends and others in the LGBT community who searched for their brother.
“Not knowing whether Andrew was alive or dead has been a very difficult thing to live with, so there is some relief in the knowledge we have now,” Coles said in a news conference, describing the experience as a roller coaster.
Kinsman was a Cabbagetown resident and had deep roots in Toronto’s LGBT community. He spent decades volunteering with the Toronto HIV/AIDS Network and was the superintendent of his Winchester Street building where he lived with his beloved cat.
As the months since he was last seen went by, Coles says she always held out hope that her younger brother could still be alive.
“You fear that they’re dead, but you hope that he’s had a medical emergency, he’s just decided on a whim to take off with someone and you know spend a week away or two weeks away,” she said.
“I know it doesn’t sound logical but until you know for certain, you always have hope that he would come back.”
But Kinsman’s other sister, Patricia Kinsman, says she knew he wasn’t coming back because of how he disappeared.
“He would never leave his 17-year-old cat,” she said.
While the thought that Kinsman could have been murdered didn’t immediately enter Patricia’s mind, she explains as time went on it was something she feared.
“It was the fact that when we couldn’t find him after the amount of time we searched… and we could not find one trace of him,” she said. “Why would he turn his phone off? Why would he walk out of his apartment without a fully charged phone? That’s when I got a little suspicious.”
Both Coles and her sister say the were in “shock” when they learned police believe their brother had been murdered.
Now they want to find his body.
“We want to bring his body back home wherever he is and put him to rest,” Patricia told CBC Toronto.
While police have not found the bodies of the two men or released the cause of death, Patricia says she wants to know what happened, despite the nature of the details.
“Not knowing is way worse because you spend all your time wondering and you can never stop thinking about it,” she said.
McArthur is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 14.