The commotion caused by the media frenzy four days into the Bruce McArthur investigation has some Leaside residents distressed.
Police set up a large tent Monday in the backyard of a property where human remains were discovered of at least three missing Toronto men.
Forensic experts are examining the soil behind 53 Mallory Cres. in search of more bodies, bringing a constant flow of reporters who have staked out the area, parking satellite trucks and vans along the street and trying to interview residents.
The house at No. 53 sits at the end of a street that also houses several blocks of two-storey apartments owned by Crestview Investment Corporation.
Richard Johnston, a spokesman for the company’s apartments at 57-93 Mallory Cres. and 30-75 Leacrest Rd., declined to comment on their decision to place two handwritten, cardboard lawn signs with the words “Private property, no press.”
An employee wearing a black Lawrence Construction jacket stood at the corner of Leacrest Road and Mallory Crescent on Thursday, silently monitoring journalists. When approached, he declined to give his name but the message was clear.
“People can’t be here, all these streets and houses need to be left alone,” the man said, identifying himself as a property manager with the company.
The quiet Leaside community located at Bayview and Moore avenues normally sees people walking with their families and taking dogs out for exercise between Bennington Heights Park and the Crothers Woods trail. Now more outsiders are driving by, slowing down at the Mallory Green parkette across from the crime scene, to gawk.
Paul, who lives in a house at 26 Mallory Cres., said the overwhelming media presence has worsened the situation for those near the crime scene.
“It’s a nuisance,” Paul said, asking that his last name not be used. “There’s more traffic here and people are walking by and looking at the scene. I’ve had knocks on my door and I’ve seen reporters going around all the time.”
At 35 Leacrest Rd., Barbara, who also didn’t want her last name used, was putting a stroller into her car. The strong police presence has made an impression on the woman, a Toronto lawyer, who said locals are now conscious of each other’s safety.
“We definitely watch out for each other on this street,” she said, although she acknowledged that her detective skills may not have helped identify the suspect. “Not to the extent that I could tell the difference between the person who did it versus the guy who lived there.”
The house at 53 Mallory Cres. is owned by a couple who were clients of the landscaper charged with five murders. They have confirmed they permitted him to use their property to keep equipment for his landscaping business, Artistic Design.
Two seniors who were out for their regular walk Thursday afternoon said they find the recent developments troubling.
“It’s disturbing, anybody who could hear about that, how could they not be disturbed,” said one of the women wearing a purple coat, who was also holding nordic walking poles. She was referring to the discovery of dismembered bodies hidden inside planters on the property.
“This is so bizarre, so one in a bazillion,” she said.
Carol Wright, an avid amateur gardener, said the case has ruined her passion for getting her hands dirty.
“This entire situation has really changed things for me…people are going to look at gardening and the flowers around here differently,” she said at the corner of Leacrest and Mallory. “My best friend lives almost right beside the scene. We planted a garden together in front of the apartment and now I don’t know what will happen to it.”
Toronto police are also examining at least 30 properties in the city and outside Toronto where the suspect did work.
Wright says the area offers beautiful gardens and flowers, especially after they bloom in the summer.
Toronto police have charged McArthur, 66, with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew Kinsmen, 49; Selim Esen, 44; Majeed Kayhan, 58; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; and Dean Lisowick, 47. Police are investigating links between McArthur and other disappearances.