'High profile cases' contribute to $6M Toronto Police budget shortfall
As much as Judi Riley doesn't want to believe it, she's sure her brother, Jon, is a victim of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.
"All the pieces fit together. It's the only thing that really makes sense. He simply vanished. He went to Toronto for the weekend and he vanished," she told CBC Toronto.
Jon Riley was last seen in May of 2013, when he would have been 47 years old.
Although he lived in Meaford, Ont., at the time he disappeared, his sister said they both grew up in Toronto.
Jon often visited the city's homeless shelters and the Gay Village, although he wasn't gay himself, according to Judi. He'd also been visiting the city to find work in landscaping — the same job as McArthur.
When Judi heard about the Bruce McArthur investigation, she said she was brought to her knees in grief.
"It's not the answer I want," she said. "If this was the end of the story, it was such a grotesque ending that I don't want it to be the ending … I don't want to know."
McArthur, 66, is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen, 44, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, Dean Lisowick, either 43 or 44, Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Majeed Kayhan, 58.
Most of these men are said to have connections with Toronto's LGBT community.
The remains of at least six people have been found hidden in planters at a Leaside property where McArthur stored equipment for his landscaping business.
As part of the case, Toronto investigators are looking at missing persons files as far back as the 1970s, when McArthur would have been in his twenties.
Judi said police told her they're looking at Jon's case as part of the investigation.
"They're saying very little, but my brother is on the list of possible victims."
In an email to CBC Toronto, lead investigator in the case Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga would not confirm whether they're looking at Jon's case.
"I won't comment on specific cases ... To do so would be unfair to the families who have already been victimized by the disappearance of their loved ones," he said.
Idsinga did say he hoped to have more information on the planter investigation — police have seized more than a dozen planters off properties where McArthur worked — by the end of the week.
'We're without a brother'
The only upside of this ongoing investigation, and grief, Judi said, is that people will pay more attention to Jon's photo, something she's wanted since 2013.
"For four-and-a-half years, no one has properly investigated."
The CBC's Fifth Estate featured Jon's story in a 2014 investigation. A year-and-a-half after his disappearance, they found Jon's information was never entered into the RCMP's national missing persons website.
"There was a critical time when there needed to be connectivity ... if he had been anywhere in Canada and something had happened to him, we would have been alerted," she said.
Judi said up until this point, most people told her Jon must have chosen to go missing.
"My brother did not choose to disappear. He would not vacate my son's life. He wouldn't vacate my life," she said. "How can there be not one single clue, not one single person that recognizes his face? How can someone vanish?"
The fact Judi hasn't heard of any sightings or tips on Jon's whereabouts brings her closer to her conclusion: her brother's case must be connected to the McArthur probe.
"I have stacks and stacks of postcards, hand-written letters from all over the world from all of my brother's trips," she said. "I know his adventures. He does not disappear without contacting me."
The only other possibility Judi is willing to consider is that Jon had an accident and lost his memory.
"Whether it was at the hands of a serial killer or not, we're still without a brother. We're without a brother and we're without answers," she said.
"He's not in our lives and we don't know where he is and it's a horrible feeling."