By Sept 20, 2010, Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam’s friends knew that something was wrong.
He had disappeared for a few days at time before, but never for so long. He was last seen leaving Zipperz, a now closed bar in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village where he was a regular, on Sept 6.
When his friends didn’t hear from him for two weeks, they started postering the streets of the Village and Cabbagetown with his face, hoping that someone would know his whereabouts.
For eight years, they’ve wondered what happened. Now they know.
Toronto police have charged Bruce McArthur with Navaratnam’s murder, after identifying his remains from a Leaside property where they have found the bodies of at least five other people.
McArthur is now charged with six counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Navaratnam, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi and Majeed Kayhan.
In addition to Navaratnam’s remains, police have also been able to identify those of Kinsman and Mahmudi.
Navaratnam was a popular and well-liked member of the Church-Wellesley Village community. An immigrant from Sri Lanka, he came to Canada via the United States to escape the civil war that ravaged his homeland since the 1980s.
Shortly after McArthur was arrested, Xtra reported that Navaratnam had dated McArthur starting in 1999. He also worked for McArthur in his landscaping business.
A source told Xtra at the time that he had once dropped off Navaratnam at the Leaside property where his remains would be found nearly 20 years later.
The same source also said that Navaratnam had confessed to him that McArthur frightened him because of his violent temper.
McArthur and Navaratnam were listed as friends on Facebook, before McArthur’s page was deactivated after his arrest.
Navaratnam was the first of three brown-skinned men who vanished from the Church-Wellesley Village between 2010 and 2012. Those disappearances led police to launch Project Houston in 2012, which failed to uncover the truth of what happened to those men.