On December 29, 2010, Abdulbasir Faizi, 42, disappeared. On April 11, 2018, Toronto police announced they charged alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur with his murder.
Faizi was a married immigrant from Afghanistan, with a wife and two daughters. He was last seen leaving his work at a Mississauga printing company around 7 p.m. on the evening of December 28, 2010. He was driving his 2002 Nissan Sentra. He was last seen in the area of Church and Wellesley Streets, in the heart of the Village, that evening. His wife reported Faizi missing to Peel police (who oversee the city of Mississauga) the next day.
Faizi lived a double life.
Faizi’s disappearance had formed part of the “Project Houston” project, which was looking into the disappearances of three gay men of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent in the gay community. Project Houston was initiated to investigate the disappearance of Skanda Navaratnam, who went missing in September 2010 and was rumoured to have met with foul play. It was later expanded to include Majeed Kayhan, a 58-year-old Afghan immigrant who went missing in October 2012, and Faizi.
Police informed Faizi’s wife, Kareema Faizi, about his double life and numerous affairs with men, and filed divorce papers against him. Ms. Faizi wrote in the divorce papers that she visited the Gay Village a number of times in an attempt to locate him, but police had suggested he had abandoned his family and did not want to be found.
“It is saddening and unacceptable that it took the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman to reopen public interest in the cases of the missing South Asian and Middle Eastern men… A different standard of justice for racialized and LGBTQ+ people is the reality in our city and province.”
One of the tasks of Project Houston was to raise awareness regarding the missing men, and to that end, flyers featuring the faces of all three men were circulated to businesses in the Gay Village. Some businesses kept the flyers up for years.
Eventually Project Houston ran out of leads and had obtained no solid evidence of foul play in relation to any of the men.
It wasn’t until McArthur was arrested and his apartment and work locations searched that police were able to confirm that Faizi was a victim of homicide. Subsequent to McArthur’s arrest, police have been heavily criticized for failing to connect the murders to McArthur sooner than they had. The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention sent an open letter to police in January 2018 calling for a review of the police resources put into the search for these racialized men.
“It is saddening and unacceptable that it took the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman to reopen public interest in the cases of the missing South Asian and Middle Eastern men… A different standard of justice for racialized and LGBTQ+ people is the reality in our city and province,” the bulletin said.
Police activity appeared to increase after the death of Tess Richey, a young white woman, in the Gay Village, leading some people to point to the “missing white woman syndrome” where increased actions are taken by the police and media only after a white woman goes missing.
Toronto police said they believe Faizi was killed “on or about” December 29, 2010. His car was found seven days later on Moore Avenue, just a short drive from St. Claire Avenue and Mount Pleasant Road where McArthur worked as a landscaper. His body or a portion thereof was located in planters with other men’s body parts, and was identified in April 2018. He was identified using DNA.
McArthur left the planters at the home of an unsuspecting couple who allowed him to store landscaping equipment in their garage. There were more than 20 planters seized by police from 53 Mallory Crescent. Police indicate there is at least one more missing person of concern, and at least one more unidentified body.
Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga, who is heading up the current investigation into allegations involving McArthur, said police believe Faizi and McArthur knew each other prior to Faizi’s disappearance.
Police are continuing their search, hoping to investigate a further 75 properties associated with McArthur where remains may be found. They are waiting for the ground to thaw before bringing in cadaver dogs and digging equipment. Police are also looking into numerous unsolved murder cases of gay men in the 1970s, which are documented here on Murder Village.
The following are victims of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur, as of April 2018:
- ESEN, Selim
- FAIZI, Abdulbasir
- KAYHAN, Majeed “Hamid”
- KINSMAN, Andrew
- LISOWICK, Dean “Laser”
- MAHMUDI, Soroush
- NAVARATNAM, Skandaraj “Skanda”
Murder Village Map
Name: Abdulbasir Faizi
Date of Death: December 29, 2010
Manner of Death: unknown at this time
Location: unknown at this time
Suspect Name: Bruce McArthur
Conviction & Sentence: not yet at trial