Killing of Tim McLean

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"Vincent Li" redirects here. For the Singaporean football player, see Vincent Lee.

The killing of Tim McLean (October 3, 1985[1] – July 30, 2008) occurred on the evening of July 30, 2008. McLean, a 22-year-old Canadian man, was stabbed, beheaded and cannibalized while riding a Greyhound Canada bus about 30 km west of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba traveling the Trans Canada Highway. On March 5, 2009, McLean's killer, 40-year-old Vince Weiguang Li (simplified Chinese: 李伟光; traditional Chinese: 李偉光; pinyin: Lǐ Wěiguāng) (born April 30, 1968), was found to be not criminally responsible for murder and was remanded to a high-security mental health facility in Selkirk, Manitoba where he currently is detained.[2]


The incident took place near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, during a trip from Edmonton to McLean's hometown of Winnipeg.[3]

Tim McLean
Born October 3, 1985
Winnipeg, Canada
Died July 30, 2008 (aged 22)
Manitoba, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Occupation carnival worker

At 12:01 p.m. on July 30, 2008, Tim McLean, a carnival barker, was returning home to Manitoba after working at a fair in Alberta.[4] He departed Edmonton on board Greyhound bus 1170 to Winnipeg, via the Yellowhead Highway through Saskatchewan. He sat at the rear, one row ahead of the toilet. At 6:55 p.m., the bus departed from a stop in Erickson, Manitoba, with a new passenger, Vince Weiguang Li.[5][6] Li, described as a tall man in his 40s, with a shaved head and sunglasses, originally sat near the front of the bus, but moved to sit next to McLean following a scheduled rest stop. McLean "barely acknowledged" Li, then fell asleep against the window pane, headphones covering his ears.[7]

According to witnesses, McLean was sleeping with his headphones on when the man sitting next to him suddenly produced a large knife and began stabbing McLean in the neck and chest. The attacker then decapitated McLean and displayed his severed head to other passengers outside who had fled the bus in horror. The driver and two other men had attempted to rescue McLean but were chased away by Li, who slashed wildly at them from behind the locked bus doors. Li then went back to the body and began severing other body parts and consuming some of McLean's flesh.

At 8:30 p.m., the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Portage la Prairie received a report of a stabbing on a Greyhound bus west of the city. They arrived to find the suspect still on board the bus, being prevented from escaping by another passenger, the bus driver, and a truck driver who had provided a crowbar and a hammer as weapons. The other passengers were huddled at the roadside, some of them crying and vomiting. As the suspect had earlier attempted to escape by driving the bus away, the driver had engaged the emergency immobilizer system, rendering the vehicle inoperable. Witnesses had observed the suspect stabbing and cutting McLean's body, and carrying McLean's severed head.[7]

By 9:00 p.m., police were in a standoff with the suspect and had summoned special negotiators and a heavily armed tactical unit. The suspect alternately paced the length of the bus and defiled the corpse. Police officers then observed Li eating parts of the body.[5] Meanwhile, the stranded passengers were transported from the scene to be interviewed at the Brandon RCMP detachment.[7] RCMP officers reportedly heard Li say, "I have to stay on the bus forever."[5]

On July 31, 2008, at 1:30 a.m., the suspect attempted to escape from the bus by breaking through a window. The RCMP arrested Li soon afterward.[6][8] He was shot with a Taser twice, handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser. Parts of the victim's body, placed in plastic bags, were retrieved from the bus, while his ear, nose and tongue were found in Li's pockets. The victim's eyes and a part of his heart were never recovered and are presumed to have been eaten by Li.[9]

At 10:00 a.m., Greyhound representatives took the other passengers to a local store to replace their clothes, which remained on the bus. They arrived in Winnipeg at 3:30 p.m. that day, to be reunited with family members and friends.[7]

Witness accounts[edit]

Garnet Caton, a 26-year-old oil worker who sat one row ahead of McLean, described hearing "a blood-curdling scream," saying, "I turned around and the guy sitting right behind me was standing up and stabbing another guy with a big Rambo knife.... Right in the throat. Repeatedly."[7]

Caton added: "I got sick after I saw the head thing. Some people were puking, some people were crying, some people were shocked. [The attacker] just looked at us and dropped the head on the ground, totally calm."[7] A police officer who was at the scene said the attacker also cut off parts of the victim's body and ate them.[10]

Another passenger, Stephen Allison, stated that McLean fought his attacker, providing other passengers with the opportunity to get off the bus.[11]

Vince Weiguang Li[edit]


Vince Li
Born Vince Weiguang Li
(1968-04-30) April 30, 1968 (age 46)
Dandong, China
Nationality Naturalized Canadian (Chinese Descent)
Occupation Menial Worker
Known for Killing of Tim McLean

Vince Weiguang Li was born in Dandong, China on April 30, 1968. In 1992, Li graduated from University of Wuhan Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computers. From 1994-1998, Li worked in Beijing as a computer software engineer. Li immigrated to Canada from China on June 11, 2001[12][13][14] (though some newspapers mistakenly reported 2004)[15] becoming a Canadian citizen on November 7, 2006. A Dr. Stanley Yaren said Li was hospitalized in 2003 or 2004 after an incident with the Ontario Provincial Police.[16]

He worked in Winnipeg at menial jobs at Grant Memorial Church for six months to support his wife, Anna. Pastor Tom Castor, who employed Li, said he seemed happy to have a job and was committed to doing it well, despite a language barrier with other congregation members.

"I think he would occasionally feel frustrated with not being able to communicate or understand," Castor told CTV Winnipeg. "But we have a very patient staff and he seemed to respond well." Castor also said Li did not show any signs of anger issues or any other trouble before he quit in the spring of 2005. He worked as a forklift operator in Winnipeg while his wife worked as a waitress.

Li first moved to Edmonton in 2006, abruptly leaving his wife alone in Winnipeg until she joined him later.[17] His jobs included service at a Wal-Mart, at a fast-food restaurant, and newspaper delivery. His delivery boss, Vincent Augert, described Li as reliable, hard-working and not showing any signs of trouble.

Four weeks before the killing, he was fired from Wal-Mart following a "disagreement" with other employees.[17] Shortly before the incident, Li asked for time off from his delivery job to go to Winnipeg for a job interview.

July 29, 2008[edit]

At midnight July 28 in Edmonton, Li boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Winnipeg.

On July 29, around 6 p.m., Li got off the bus in Erickson, Manitoba, with at least three pieces of luggage, and stayed the night on a bench next to a grocery store. According to one witness, he was seen at 3 a.m. sitting bolt upright with eyes wide open.[5]

On the morning of July 30, still at the bench, he sold his new laptop computer to a 15-year-old boy, Darren Beatty, for $60.[18][19] The laptop was seized by the RCMP as evidence; the boy was subsequently given a new laptop for his honesty by an anonymous businessman.[20] Shortly before 6 p.m. Li boarded the bus heading to Winnipeg, which was carrying Tim McLean and 35 other passengers.[21]

Witness Garnet Caton said the attacker seemed oblivious to others when the stabbing occurred, adding he was struck by how calm the man was. "There was no rage or anything. He was like a robot, stabbing the guy," he said. When he appeared in a Portage la Prairie courthouse on charges of second-degree murder, the only words Li reportedly uttered were pleas for someone to kill him.[15]


Li's trial commenced on March 3, 2009, with Li pleading not criminally responsible. This means that he accepted that the offence occurred but he claimed that he was unable to form the necessary mental element or mens rea.[9] The psychiatrist said that Li performed the attack because God's voice told him McLean was a force of evil and was about to execute him. The presiding judge accepted the diagnosis, and ruled that Li was not criminally responsible for the killing.[2] Li was remanded to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.[22]


The week following the attack, Greyhound Canada announced it was pulling a series of nationwide advertisements which included the line, "There's a reason you've never heard of bus rage." The incident has led to numerous calls and petitions demanding increased security on intercity buses.[23]

After the incident, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) attempted to run an ad in the Portage Daily Graphic comparing the killing of McLean to the consumption of animals.[24] The paper's publisher refused to run the ad. [25]

The family of Tim McLean have brought a lawsuit of $150,000 against Greyhound, the Attorney General of Canada, and Vince Li.[26]

On June 3, 2010, Li was granted supervised outdoor walks within his mental health facility as voted by the provincial review board.[27]

On February 16, 2011, two passengers, Debra Tucker, of Port Colborne, Ontario and Kayli Shaw, of London, Ontario filed a lawsuit against Li, Greyhound, the RCMP, and the Government of Canada for being exposed to the beheading. They are each seeking $3 million in damages.[28]

On May 30, 2011, the CBC reported that Li is responding well to his psychiatric treatment and that his doctor has recommended that he will receive more freedoms, phased in over several months.[29]

On May 17, 2012, the National Post reported that Li has been granted temporary passes that will allow him out of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre for visits to the town of Selkirk, supervised by a nurse and peace officer.[30] In an interview, Li spoke for the first time, saying that he began hearing "the voice of God" in 2004 and that he wanted to save the people from an alien attack.[31]

On February 27, 2014, the CBC reported that on March 6, Li will be allowed to have unsupervised visits to Selkirk, starting at 30 minutes and expanding to full-day trips. Since 2013, he is allowed to have supervised visits to Lockport, Winnipeg, and nearby beaches. Those visits will be relaxed.[32]

On July 17, 2014, the Toronto Sun reported that one of the first officers on the scene, Cpl. Ken Barker, an RCMP officer, had committed suicide.[33] The family stated in his obituary that he was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.[34]

In media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CBC: Fifth Estate Timeline". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  2. ^ a b McIntyre, Mike. "Vincent Li not criminally responsible for bus killing, beheading, cannibalization". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  3. ^ "Suspect in bus killing delivered newspapers, worked at McDonald's",, August 1, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  4. ^ "Accused still hears voices, as much a victim as beheaded passenger: psychiatrist", Canadian Press, 3 March 2009, retrieved 3 March 2009 
  5. ^ a b c d Friesen, Joe. 'Please kill me,' accused begs in court, The Globe and Mail, August 6, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Kitching, Chris. RCMP identify man accused of beheading victim, Winnipeg Sun, August 1, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Friesen, Joe. A quiet ride - then carnage, The Globe and Mail, August 1, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  8. ^ Police don't know what prompted vicious bus attack,, July 31, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Puxley, Chinta (2009-03-04). "Man pleads not guilty in bus beheading". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  10. ^ Decapitation Suspect Allegedly Ate Victim, CBS News, August 2, 2008. Accessed August 2, 2008.
  11. ^ "Bus attack victim fought back". Sudbury Star. 2008-08-16. Retrieved 2008-09-02. [dead link]
  12. ^ McIntyre, Mike. 'Please kill me,' pleads man accused in beheading murder, National Post, August 5, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.[dead link]
  13. ^ Now a citizen, beheading suspect cannot be deported, Winnipeg Free Press, August 10, 2008. Accessed February 17, 2011.
  14. ^ Accused in bus slaying ordered to get psychiatric assessment, CBC News, August 5, 2008. Accessed August 12, 2008.[dead link]
  15. ^ a b Gillies, Rob. Canada bus beheading suspect says 'please kill me', Associated Press, August 5, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.[dead link]
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Steve Lillebuen, Jennifer Yang. Alleged beheader lost Wal-Mart job over conflict with fellow worker, Calgary Herald, August 4, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  18. ^ Giroday, Gabrielle. Li sold laptop before slaying, Winnipeg Free Press, August 6, 2008. Accessed August 7, 2008.
  19. ^ Canada (August 5, 2008). "'Please kill me,' accused pleads". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  20. ^ Parent, Tim (2008-08-06). "Montreal businessman to help Manitoba boy who bought laptop off accused killer". Retrieved 2009-09-01. [dead link]
  21. ^ Timeline to the Greyhound bus murder case, CBC News, August 6, 2008. Accessed August 7, 2008.
  22. ^ "Killer Vince Li to walk in unfenced area". 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  23. ^ Rynor, Becky. Greyhound pulls 'bus rage' ads , The Windsor Star, August 5, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
  24. ^ PETA. [1], August 6, 2008. Accessed March 21, 2012.
  25. ^ CBC. [2], August 6, 2008. Accessed November 22, 2014.
  26. ^ "Family of man beheaded on bus launches lawsuit". Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  27. ^ "Li granted walks supervised outside". 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  28. ^ Winnipeg Free Press."RCMP, Greyhound, feds sued over McLean beheading". 2011-02-16. 
  29. ^ "Bus beheader responds to treatment: psychiatrist". CBC News. May 30, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Vince Li wins right to escorted trips into community". National Post. May 17, 2012. 
  31. ^ Canada cannibal says he believed victim was an alien, The Daily Telegraph, May 23, 2012
  32. ^ "Vince Li granted unsupervised outings". CBC News. February 27, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014. 
  33. ^ Cop at scene of 2008 Manitoba bus beheading commits suicide, The Toronto Sun, July 17th, 2014
  34. ^ Ken Barker Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, July 16, 2014
  35. ^ "Vincent". Cider Press Review. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  36. ^ "Interview with Joseph Fasano". Combustus. 
  37. ^ Miljure, Ben. "New book offers imagined perspective of Greyhound bus killer". CTVNews Winnipeg. Retrieved 23 March 2015.