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Remains of at least 6 people found in potted plants in Canadian serial killer probe

Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 6:04 PM

Canadian Serial Killer Probe Leads To Remains Of At Least Six People

The dismembered remains of at least 6 people have been found stuffed in flower planters outside a Toronto home where a suspected serial killer accused of targeting gay men stored his landscaping equipment.

Bruce McArthur, 66, of Toronto, is thus far charged with only five counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of five missing men, according to the Toronto Police Service. Investigators believe, however, that there may be many more victims hidden in landscaping projects the self-employed McArthur did for clients throughout Toronto.  

“I do anticipate more charges being laid,” Toronto police Detective Sgt. Hank Idsinga told CBC Toronto Thursday. Idsinga is the lead investigator on the case, which he described as “unprecedented.” 

A man was found alive and tied to McArthur’s bed in his Thorncliffe Park apartment at the time of his Jan. 18 arrest, CP24 in Toronto reported. Police officers who had McArthur under surveillance in the disappearances of multiple men saw the man go into his apartment with him and, believing him to be in danger, forced their way inside. 

The man was uninjured when he was found, the news station reported

So far, the remains of just one man, Andrew Kinsman, have been positively identified, CBC Toronto reported Thursday. Kinsman, 49, had a sexual relationship with McArthur, police officials said at the time of McArthur’s arrest

McArthur is also accused of killing Majeed Kayhan, 58, Selim Esen, 44, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Dean Lisowick, 47. 

Esen was reported missing in April 2017 and Marmudi was reported missing in August 2015, police officials said. Lisowick was never reported missing, but investigators believe he was killed between May 2016 and July 2017. 

Kayhan, who has been missing since October 2012, was one of three men who went missing from Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village area, a predominantly gay downtown neighborhood that is also known as Gay Village. Toronto police investigators in 2012 established Project Houston, a task force that sought to solve their disappearances, but it was disbanded after 18 months, the Toronto Star reported

Toronto landscaper Bruce McArthur is accused of killing, from left to right; Selim Essen, 44, Sorush Mahmudi, 50, Dean Lisowick, Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Majeed Kayhan, 58. Police say the 66-year-old McArthur killed at least five men over the span of nearly a decade, but detectives believe there may be many more victims.((Toronto Police Service via AP))

McArthur’s arrest came as the result of another task force called Project Prism, according to police. 

The Star reported that the other two men who vanished from Gay Village, Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, and Abdulbasir Faizi, have not been listed as victims of McArthur. Navaratnam, who has been missing since September 2010, has been connected to the alleged serial killer, however, and Faizi’s abandoned car was found a short distance from McArthur’s home. 

Faizi vanished three months after Navaratnam disappeared. 

Members of Toronto’s gay community have taken issue with news stories in which acquaintances of McArthur’s described him as a “jovial” fixture of the Gay Village community.

“The depictions of this man as a ‘jovial’ ‘grandfather’ who dressed up as Santa but had this ‘penchant’ for serial killing is gross,” a post on Toronto Pride’s Facebook page stated. “Where’s his mugshot in these articles? Seemingly, this media rule only applies to indigenous, street-involved and black people.”

McArthur did not live at the home on Mallory Crescent where the human remains have been found. Owners Karen Fraser and her husband allowed McArthur to store his equipment at their home in exchange for mowing and general upkeep of their lawn, Fraser told CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” program

Fraser said that police showed up at their home the morning of McArthur’s arrest with a search warrant and gave them 20 minutes to leave the property.

“I was so horrified,” Fraser said, according to CBC Toronto. “Every aspect was more horrifying and I just … it was really hard to take.”

Fraser said that, along with his equipment, McArthur stored planters at their home, including two large, heavy ones in the backyard. Those planters, where police apparently found body parts of three of the victims, were there for two years, she said. 

“They would come and go,” Fraser said of McArthur’s planters. “If they were going to stay long enough, he often put some plants in for us. And then, when a client wanted them, off they would go.”

Investigators using dogs and ground-penetrating radar found areas in the home’s yard where dirt had been disturbed. Idsinga told CBC reporters that law enforcement was using heaters to warm the frozen ground.

“There’s a tent out back. It’s a very large tent,” Idsinga said. “We have some heaters there and we are thawing the ground there.”

A police forensics tent sits in the backyard of a house on Mallory Crescent in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Police found human remains of at least six people while investigating the case against landscaper and suspected serial killer Bruce McArthur.((Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP))

Excavation of the area was anticipated to begin late last week. It was unclear when the Frasers, who are staying with friends, would be allowed back into their home. 

Meanwhile, investigators continued searching more than 30 other properties on which McArthur may have done landscaping work in the Toronto area. 

Idsinga said the planters where the remains were found were among more than a dozen planters removed from multiple locations after police dogs detected the possible presence of human decomposition. Officials anticipate that it could take months to identify all the remains found. 

The detective refuted rumors that McArthur was suspected of cannibalizing his alleged victims.

“There’s no truth to that at all,” Idsinga told CBC Toronto in an email

CBC Toronto confirmed that detectives have interviewed at least three other men who dated McArthur, but stopped because they were not comfortable with some of the sex acts he wanted them to participate in. 

>> Read more trending news

Fraser told “As It Happens” that she was shocked when McArthur, who she’s known for nearly 10 years, was arrested. She described him as a kind and helpful man who often helped with the charity work she and her husband did. 

She said sleep has been elusive as she has thought about the missing men, many of whom were immigrants to Canada. 

“I picture these men, glad to be making friends,” Fraser said. “They found a community. They really think that their new life is going to be maybe more than they ever dreamed possible, and then that someone took advantage.

“The terror, the horror. That’s what I have real trouble with.”

The Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto held a candlelight vigil Sunday night for the five men McArthur has been charged with killing. Rev. Sandra Morris lit a candle for each man, but also lit a sixth candle, CP24 reported

The sixth candle was a reminder of victims not yet found or identified.

“We also remember that there are others still missing and there may be more victims before this nightmare ends,” Morris said

Toronto Mayor John Tory, who attended the vigil, said he hoped the service could begin the long healing process.

“These horrific crimes have shocked and shaken the Church and Wellesley community and all of Toronto,” Tory wrote on Twitter. He also shared photos from the vigil.

Rev. Jeff Rock, the church’s senior pastor, said the regular Sunday service was cancelled so the community could come together to mourn the victims.

“(There are) a lot of unsettled feelings in people’s hearts, and still a lot of unanswered questions,” Rock told the news agency. “We open up our doors and invite not only the LGBTQ community, but the wider community, recognizing that the entire city of Toronto and the country … are realizing the horrors as the news comes out day by day.”

As the excavation of the Frasers’ Mallory Crescent property gets underway, police investigators are combing through McArthur’s cellphone and computer and any other electronic devices that could offer clues about how he sought out his alleged victims. CBC Toronto reported that the suspected killer’s Facebook profile, which has been disabled, detailed his nights out, parties, vacations and more. 

Several younger men, many of whom appeared Middle Eastern or South Asian -- like some of McArthur’s alleged victims -- showed up in his photos, the news agency reported. He also had profiles on multiple dating sites, including manjam and silverdaddies. 

His user name was often a variation of the nickname “silver fox.”

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Louisiana man charged with driving lawn mower while drunk

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 12:47 PM

Police – Man Charged for Driving Lawn Mower Drunk

A south Louisiana man was arrested Saturday after sheriff’s deputies said they saw him driving a lawn mower while drunk.

Brian K. Cheramie, 59, of Cut Off, is charged with second-offense driving while intoxicated, according to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. He was also booked on an outstanding contempt of court warrant.

Sheriff’s Office officials reported that deputies saw Cheramie driving a lawn mower on the shoulder of the highway just after midnight Saturday morning. As they watched, he swerved into a lane of traffic and back onto the shoulder, the deputies said. 

>> Read more trending news

They pulled Cheramie over, at which point he admitted that he drank several beers before getting on the lawn mower, authorities said

Cheramie also did badly on a field sobriety test. A breath test indicated he had a blood alcohol concentration of .144 percent, well over the legal limit of .08 percent.

He was booked into the parish jail, where he remained in lieu of $2,800 bond on Tuesday.  

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Kayaker bitten by rattlesnake, cousin clarifies story; victim’s condition upgraded

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 7:27 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 4:52 PM

Rattlesnake Falls into Kayaker's Boat, Bites Him

A day on the water turned into a man’s fight for life after a rattlesnake fell into his boat as he was going down the river.

But the man’s cousin said that’s not exactly what happen, despite what first responders said.

Colleton County fire-rescue said that Michael Adams, 28, bitten when the snake fell into his boat from a tree, WCIV reported.

The man was enjoying the Edisto River in Colleton County, South Carolina, Sunday.  It bit the 28-year-old man twice on the hand before the man’s friends grabbed the snake and got their injured buddy to land, WLTX reported.

But Adam’s cousin said that while Adams suffered rattlesnake bites, it didn’t happen exactly as first responders said. 

Kyle Colquitt, explained what happened and said that Adams went over to what he thought was an alligator in the water, but when he realized it was a snake, he reached down and grabbed it, WCIV reported

The snake bit Adams three times, not the two that the fire-rescue crew said.

>> Read more trending news 

Paramedics were able to get to the site within 12 minutes to take him to an area hospital, WLTX reported.

Colquitt said that one of their kayaking crew had a snake bite kit and used that before medics arrived, WCIV reported.

>>Read: Rattlesnake slithers into Texas house through dog door

He was admitted to the intensive care unit before being taken to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where he was listed in critical condition, WLTX reported.

Adams is now in good condition

Experts say rattlesnake bites are painful and can attribute to medical problems, but aren’t usually fatal if a patient is treated correctly, WLTX reported

The symptoms of a rattlesnake bite come on fast, according to Healthline.com, and include:

  • Severe pain.
  • Drooping eyelids.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Thirst.
  • Tiredness or muscle weakness.

Healthline.com also says to look for two puncture wounds with swelling, redness and pain at the site, difficulty breathing, vomiting and nausea, blurred vision, sweating and salivating and numbness in the face and limbs.

If you are bitten, Healthline.com says to:

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Note the time.
  • Keep calm and still. Movement can make the venom to spread through the body.
  • Remove constricting clothing or jewelry. The area will probably swell.
  • Don’t walk.
  • Don’t kill or handle the snake. Take a photo if you can but don’t search it out.
  • Don’t use a tourniquet.
  • Don’t cut into the bite.
  • Don’t use a cold compress.
  • Don’t give medications unless directed by a doctor.
  • Don’t raise the bite higher than the person’s heart.
  • Don’t try to suck out the venom.

How To Treat a Snake Bite

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Hawaii volcano: 'Explosive eruption' at Kilauea summit spurs concerns over ash, laze

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 4:37 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 4:37 PM

VIDEO: Lava Erupts from Kilauea Volcano

An “explosive eruption” at Kilauea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island early Tuesday prompted officials to warn residents to protect themselves from ash fallout as the volcano eruption continues into its third week.

>> Read more trending news

More than 40 structures have been destroyed in the eruption that started May 3. It has since inundated almost 325 acres around Kilauea with lava and lead to concerns about laze, a toxic mixture of lava and haze that forms when hot lava hits ocean waters.

>> What is laze? Hawaii volcano lava reaches the Pacific Ocean

Update 4:37 p.m. EDT May 22: Lava continued to flow Tuesday on Hawaii's Big Island, creating toxic laze as it hit ocean waters.

Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said a majority of the lava was flowing Tuesday from a trio of fissures that have opened in recent days.

Update 11:56 a.m. EDT May 22: The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory released video Tuesday of lava hitting the ocean one day earlier, creating a toxic laze plume.

Laze is formed when lava enters the ocean, setting off a series of chemical reactions and cooling the lava until it transforms into glass, which shatters, according to USGS officials. It creates white clouds of steam that contain toxic gas and tiny shards of volcanic glass. 

Update 10:18 a.m. EDT May 22: Officials with the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency warned Tuesday of another “explosive eruption” at Kilauea’s summit

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported the explosion around 3:45 a.m.

“The resulting ash plume may affect the surrounding areas,” officials warned. “The wind may carry the ash plume to the southwest toward Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Waiohinu.”

Authorities said the biggest hazard from Tuesday’s early morning eruption is likely to be ash fallout. Residents were asked to stay indoors and keep windows closed.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory officials warned in an update Monday afternoon that "additional explosions (are) possible at any time" on Kilauea's summit.

 

Update 11:15 p.m. EDT May 21: Lava is flowing toward a geothermal power plant on Hawaii’s Big Island as Mount Kilauea continues its violent eruptions.

Reuters is reporting that workers are scrambling to shut down the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) plant to prevent the “uncontrollable release of toxic gases.”

The plant provides about 25 percent of the Big Island’s power, but has been closed since the volcanic eruptions started on May 3.

 

Update 12:35 p.m. EDT May 21: Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said early Monday that a small explosion happened just before 1 a.m. local time at the Halemaumau crater at Kilauea's summit.

The explosion shot ash about 7,000 feet into the air.

"Additional explosive events that could produce minor amounts of ashfall downwind are possible at any time," USGS officials said.

The Hawaiian County Civil Defense Agency warned residents to be aware of ashfall after the "explosive eruption."

Update 12:38 p.m. May 20: Lava from the Kilauea volcano has crossed Highway 137 and entered the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaii County Civil Defense said Sunday. A second lava flow is about 437 yards from the highway, the Star Advertiser of Honolulu reported.

Big Island residents may now have to contend with laze -- a mixture of lava and haze -- that forms when hot lava hits the ocean, CNN reported.

After making contact with the water, the laze sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air.

Laze can lead to lung, eye and skin irritation, CNN reported.

"This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows," the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory wrote on its website.

Officials have told people to avoid areas where lava meets the ocean, CNN reported.

Powerful eruptions accompanied by thunderous booms punctuated the air Friday around Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

The volcano spewed lava bombs the size of cows as molten rock flowed from several of the 22 fissures that have opened around the volcano. 

   

Update 2 a.m. EDT May 19: Fast-moving lava isolated about 40 homes in a rural subdivision, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters, the Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported.

According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, police, firefighters and National Guard troops were stopping people from entering the area.

Update 11:30 p.m. EDT May 18: Hawaiian authorities have sent the National Guard, police and fire units into the East Rift Zone in Puna, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency.

“There are approximately 40 homes in the area that are isolated. Officials are gaining access by helicopter to the area to assess how many people are there and if they need assistance. All persons in that area are asked to stay where they are and wait for further instructions,” the agency said on its website.

The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has confirmed another fissure opened on Friday, bringing the total number of fissures to 22. 

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as Kilauea continues its violent eruptions.

Update 8:30 a.m. EDT May 18:  More lava is spewing 

from the Kilauea volcano as the 21st fissure opened Thursday, CNN reported.

 

Meanwhile, state officials have been handing out masks to protect people who live near Kilauea, ABC News reported. About 18,000 masks have been distributed, CNN reported. The safety measure protects residents from breathing in pieces of rock, glass and crystals that fall as the volcano continues to erupt, ABC News reported.

Update 10:45 p.m. EDT May 17: Lava is erupting from points along the fissure system on Kilauea volcano, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but the agency is calling it a “low-level eruption” at this point. 

 

Although lava is still spattering from Fissure 17, the flow has not advanced significantly over the past day, the USGS said.

There are currently 18 fissures that have opened due to seismic activity on Kilauea’ over the past two weeks. 

Volcanic gas emission are still elevated throughout the area and residents are urged to remain on alert. 

“This eruption is still evolving and additional outbreaks of lava are possible. Ground deformation continues and seismicity remains elevated in the area,” the USGS reported late Thursday

Rain on the Big Island Thursday helped the situation with the ashfall, but volcano experts are warning the situation on Kilauea is  still very dynamic.

Original report: Several schools were closed as ash continued to fall Thursday due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels. Officials warned people in the area to take shelter and protect themselves from the falling ash.

>> Here's how to help victims of Hawaii volcano, earthquakes

"The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area," officials with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a 5 a.m. alert. In a subsequent update, USGS officials said the ash plume was moving to the northeast.

The plume could be seen in an image taken from a webcam at the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

 

"Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves," the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency warned.

Michelle Coombs, of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, told Hawaii News Now that the situation remained “very, very active and very dynamic,” on Thursday.

“The potential for larger explosions is still there,” she said.

Officials with the USGS warned Tuesday that an eruption of Kilauea's volcano appeared "imminent."

>> Red alert declared on Hawaii’s Big Island; major Kilauea eruption ‘imminent’

The eruption on Kilauea began May 3. It has since forced thousands of people from their homes, destroyed nearly 40 structures -- including dozens of homes -- and created more than two dozen fissures in the ground surrounding the volcano.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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Jada Pinkett Smith talks hair loss: ‘I was literally shaking in fear’

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 9:59 PM

What You Need To Know About Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith typically comes across as confident and fearless, but she recently opened up about her experience with hair loss as a woman, one that left her covering her hair with turbans.

“A lot of people have been asking why I’ve been wearing turbans,” Pinkett Smith, 46, said on an episode of her Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk.” “Well, I haven’t talked about it. It’s not easy to talk about, but I am going to talk about it.”

In the Facebook Watch show, Pinkett Smith speaks with her daughter, Willow, and her mother, Adrienne, and they have candid conversation about their life experiences.

>> Read more trending news 

People reported that, in the latest episode, Pinkett Smith said that one day she saw handfuls of hair in her hand.

“It was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, ‘Oh my God, am I going bald?’” she said.

“It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking in fear. That’s why I cut my hair, and why I continue to cut it.”

Pinkett Smith has recently been photographed with an asymmetrical bob that covers most of her hair line and a scarf around her head with hair poking out on top, or covering her hair altogether with a scarf.

She admitted that the process of dealing with hair loss was a challenge, and although she’s seen multiple specialists, a cause for her hair loss has not been determined.

“My hair has been a big part of me,” Pinkett Smith said. “Taking care of my hair has been a beautiful ritual, and having the choice to have hair or not. And then one day to be, like, ‘Oh my God, I might not have that choice anymore.’”

“I’ve gotten every kind of test there is to have,” she said. “They don’t know why.”

Pinkett Smith said she took a spiritual approach to come to terms with her hair loss.

“I really had to put it into a spiritual perspective, like the higher power takes so much from people. People are out here with cancer. People have sick children. I watch the higher power take things every day,” she said.

“When my hair is wrapped, I feel like a queen,” she said.

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