Netflix’s highly popular true crime content has renewed the public’s interest in the darker side of humanity. However, very rarely are Canadian serial killers spotlighted.
While serial killers in Canada may not be as popular or as many as our neighbour down south, there’s no denying that our country has seen some seriously heinous crimes committed over the years.
Here are six of the most vicious and evil serial killers that once terrorized the Greater Toronto Area.
David Michael Krueger, best known by his birth name Peter Woodcock, began as a troubled child. He was given up for adoption by his teenage mother and experienced abuse at the hands of foster families.
As a youth, he travelled around Toronto on his bike, molesting children.
In the late 1950s, he gained notoriety as a teenager for the murders of three young children, which took place on the Exhibition Place grounds, Cherry Beach and under the Bloor Viaduct.
A police drawing, which ran on the front page of the Toronto Star, led to his capture and arrest.
Found not guilty by reason of insanity for his crimes, Woodcock was sent to a psychiatric facility.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, he was essentially a guinea pig for doctors trying to find ways to cure psychopathic offenders.
Woodcock murdered once more in 1991 when he was signed out from his psychiatric institution on a day of unsupervised release.
Fun fact: Woodcock died on his 71st birthday at a psychiatric hospital north of Toronto in 2010.
Russell Maurice Johnson
During the 1970s, Russell Johnson, also known as “The Bedroom Strangler,” raped and murdered at least seven women in their apartments in London and Guelph and assaulted 11 others.
Johnson would stalk his victims to their apartments, wait until they were asleep, gain access to their apartments, then sexually assault and suffocate them.
In 1977, Johnson was arrested on charges of murdering three women. However, he was found not guilty because of insanity. He was indefinitely confined to a psychiatric hospital.
Johnson has been chemically castrated and takes Lupron; a hormone therapy used to reduce testosterone in men.
Fun fact: The investigation surrounding Johnson’s crimes was the costliest in Ontario’s history, amassing at least $30,000.
One of Canada’s most notorious serial killers, Paul Bernardo, was dubbed “The Scarborough Rapist” and “The Schoolgirl Killer” by the media.
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bernardo plagued Scarborough with rapes, brutal attacks and murders against young women.
With the help of his wife Karla Homolka, between 1990 and 1992, Bernardo raped and murdered three young women in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe region, including Homolka’s younger sister Tammy.
In 1993, the couple was arrested when Homolka made a plea deal and gave up information about her husband in exchange for a 12-year sentence.
Bernardo’s trial both riveted and repulsed the entire nation. The media dubbed the couple “The Ken and Barbie Killers” due to their good looks and wealthy background.
Bernardo was convicted of several offences, including two first-degree murders and two aggravated sexual assaults. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Homolka was released in 2005 and currently lives in Quebec with her family.
Fun fact: Paul Bernardo’s second parole hearing is set for June 22.
The only child of a wealthy Air Canada pilot, Dellen Millard, was once a teenage pilot and heir to a family fortune.
In 2006, Millard befriended Mark Smich. In 2011, the two became so close that Smich moved into the basement of the Millard family home.
In 2013, Millard and Smich arranged for a test drive of a pickup truck from a man who lived in Ancaster. After shooting and killing him, the two then incinerated the body at the Millard hangar.
In 2016, Millard and Smich were convicted of first-degree murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2017, they were also convicted of the murder of a young woman who had gone missing back in 2012.
In 2018, Millard was convicted for the third time of killing his father, who had been found with a gunshot to the eye in the family’s lavish Toronto home in 2012. His death had originally been ruled a suicide.
Fun fact: At the age of 14, Millard made a world record for being the youngest Canadian to singlehandedly fly a helicopter and an aeroplane on the same day.
Beginning in 2007, former registered nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer began to murder her patients at a long-term care home in Woodstock by injecting lethal doses of insulin, ensuring a prolonged and complicated death.
Between 2007 and 2016, Wettlaufer murdered eight senior citizens and attempted to murder six others at multiple homes in southwestern Ontario.
Throughout the years, Wettlaufer admitted her crimes to at least six people. However, none reported her to the police.
It wasn’t until 2016, when Wettlaufer entered a drug rehabilitation program at a psychiatric hospital in Toronto and confessed to killing and attempting to kill her patients, that the College of Nurses of Ontario and Toronto Police were notified.
In 2017, Wettlaufer was sentenced to eight concurrent life terms in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
Fun fact: “Every patient I ever picked had some dementia, and that was part of what became my criteria,” Wettlaufer told lawyers in 2018.
Bruce McArthur is the most prolific known serial killer to have been active in Toronto and the oldest known serial killer in Canada.
Between 2010 and 2017, a total of eight men disappeared from the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood, known as Toronto’s gay village.
Investigations into the missing men eventually led to the arrest of McArthur, a 66-year-old self-employed Toronto landscaper.
His criminal investigation became the largest ever conducted by Toronto Police.
McArthur preyed on gay men of colour, with many of his victims immigrants from South Asia or the Middle East. After murdering them, McArthur used his landscaping job to dispose of body parts, burying them in planters throughout the city.
In 2019, McArthur pleaded guilty to murdering eight men. He is currently imprisoned at Millhaven Institution, along with Paul Bernardo and Dellen Millard.
Fun fact: Bruce McArthur worked as a seasonal “mall Santa” at Agincourt Mall in Scarborough.