Incel Killer Sentenced To Life In Prison For Toronto Sword Attack

The man, 17 at the time of the killing, will face an adult sentence for the killing of Ashley Noelle Arzaga and attempted murder of another woman.

Peter Smith
Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Toronto Superior Courthouse. Source: Google Maps

A Toronto man, found guilty of murdering one woman and attempting to murder another, has been sentenced to life in prison in an attack the court heard was inspired by internet incel culture. 

The case sought to not only bring justice for the murder of Ashley Arzaga, but also to charge the perpetrator with terror-related offences for targeting women. This marks the first time an incel-inspired act has been considered terrorism.

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Justice Suhail Akhtar ruled the man’s crimes would be considered acts of terrorism during sentencing after he pled guilty in 2022. Police first announced the possibility of the crime being designated as "terrorist activity" in a May 2020 press release, several months after the attack

The 21-year-old man, who cannot be identified due to being 17 when the crimes were committed, targeted women at random, according to the Globe and Mail. He faces the adult sentence for the crimes despite his lawyer, Monte MacGregor, arguing for leniency and a youth sentence. He categorized his client as a “friendless” and “susceptible and weak” young man.

Walking the short distance from his apartment to a massage parlour, he hid a 17” blade under a long dark coat. The words “THOT remover” were etched into the sword. THOT, an acronym for “That Hoe Over There,” is used as a slur against women. 

Arzaga, a receptionist at the Crown Spa, the court was told, greeted the attacker before he stabbed her 42 times. A second woman confronted the attacker. Despite being stabbed herself, she was able to get the weapon away from the then-teenager and incapacitated him by stabbing him in the back

The perpetrator told paramedics on the scene that he wanted to kill everyone in the building but “I’m happy I got one.” 

When police asked him why he selected the victims he reportedly responded, “I just thought they, they weren’t very clean people.”

“Ashley Arzaga was a loving mother, daughter, sister, cousin and friend,” a GoFundMe set up to help cover her funeral costs read. “Ashley is so loved and was such an outgoing, positive, kind, loving and genuinely good young woman. Her smile and laugh was contagious to everyone around and she will continue to have a huge impact on anyone who had the privilege of knowing her.”

The attacker was also reported to be carrying a handwritten note in a coat pocket reading “Long Live The Incel Rebellion.” The phrase is a reference to a social media post made by Alek Minassian. Minassian was responsible for a van attack, also in North York, that left 10 dead and 16 injured. The perpetrator of the spa attack cited Minassian directly as an inspiration for the act.  

Before his attack, Minassian wrote online that “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys. All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger.” 

Rodger is another killer responsible for six deaths in 2014 and is lionized among many incels for his justification that he was taking revenge on women who ignored him. 

Incel, short for “involuntary celibate” is not a term that refers to all people who do not have sex. Rather it is an internet subculture that promotes pseudo-scientific proscriptions about sexual dynamics and relationships between men and women, applying them broadly to typically cast women as villains for not acquiescing to sex or partnerships with the men who make up the movement. Incel forums are home to violent fantasies and extreme misogyny, including about the victims of the Crown Spa attack. 

Retroactively subsuming killers who target women into their movement, besides Rodger, some incels count Marc Lepine, the perpetrator of the École Polytechnique shooting, among their ranks. 

The justice presiding over the case called the attack “savagery motivated by misogyny,” according to the Globe and Mail, and issued the strictest possible sentence rather than a punishment afforded young offenders.

“Rather than accept responsibility, he blames the incel community and culture,” The Globe and Mail quotes Judge Akhtar saying.

Despite its uncomplicated nature, the attack was planned for months. Computers seized by police from the perpetrator’s room also contained evidence of the man alluding to the attack on online forums


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