Local Toronto Review – Missing from the Village by Justin Ling

Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System that Failed Toronto’s Queer Community by Justin Ling.

I couldn’t even finish this book before I began writing down my thoughts. Local Toronto reads are great for that ‘close to home’ feeling, but this one was chillingly close:

It’s Summer 2017 and I’m hanging out in the Village with my friends. I’m 25 years old and a night at Crews & Tango’s is our go-to idea for summer fun; that jovial blue building packed with the most talented Drag Queens in the city. We didn’t know that Bruce McArthur was a few doors down with his next victim; another regular of our preferred locale. It had already been almost a decade that too many died, and too many errors were made by Toronto Police. I recalled the stories before opening this book, but the chills set in when I realized just how ‘close to home’ this was; the Toronto serial killer in The Village. This wasn’t something from decades ago to separate myself from, this was now.

Now, of course, this isn’t about me and my possible close proximity; I was simply putting a few things into perspective for myself while organizing my thoughts. This is all about the horrors suffered by the Toronto queer community and the injustice of Toronto police.

Not an easy story to investigate, especially as a member of the Toronto Queer Community himself, yet Justin Ling spent years grappling with tight lipped members of the Toronto Police Service (TSP); never getting straight answers and attempting to navigate an already flawed system. A fascinating story of internal police leaks, burner phones, potential cannibalism, and a serial killer right in front of those looking for him in the Toronto Queer Community through the 2010’s.

Beginning in 2013, men began disappearing from the Toronto Queer Community with very little evidence. But one thing was obvious: these men all had similar characteristics of being gay, brown, bearded and either refugees or recent immigrants. Were they connected? Did they know each other? Even as years ticked by, very little was known about any connection between them as more men were reported missing. The Community rallied together over the years to bring stories, evidence, proof, and theories to the TPS, but few were rarely taken seriously as more men were reported missing. By 2017 there were 6 missing…maybe more?

“We knew people were missing and we knew that we didn’t have the right answers, but nobody was coming forward with anything”; a statement provided by Toronto Police Chief, Mark Saunders to a crowd of Torontonians that had been shouting from the rooftops for years. Constantly proven inaccurate statements that had the city calling for his resignation. Contradicting themselves, the TPS files frustratingly remained “open but suspended”; Canada’s version of a cold case.

Justin Ling uncovers the latent homophobia and racism that kept this case unsolved and unseen. This book reveals how police services across the country fail to treat missing persons cases seriously, and how policies and laws, written at every level of government, pushed Bruce McArthur’s victims out of the light and into the shadows.

Whether your a Torontonian or not, this gripping book is certainly an eye-opener. A 10/10 Loose Leaf recommendation for true crime and justice lovers. What were your thoughts of Missing from the Village?

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