Killing of Tim McLean

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Killing of Tim McLean
LocationPortage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada (49.9747257, -98.6156614)
DateJuly 30, 2008 (2008-07-30) – July 31, 2008 (2008-07-31)
8:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. (CDT)
Attack type
Stabbing and cannibalism decapitation dismemberment mutilation
PerpetratorVincent Weiguang Li (李伟光)

On 30 July 2008, Tim McLean, a 22-year-old Canadian man, was stabbed, beheaded, and cannibalized while riding a Greyhound Canada bus along the Trans-Canada Highway, about 30 km (19 mi) west of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. On 5 March 2009, his killer, 40-year-old Vincent Weiguang Li (Chinese: 李伟光; pinyin: Lǐ Wěiguāng),[1] was found not criminally responsible for murder after it was determined that he was schizophrenic, and remanded to a high-security mental health facility in Selkirk, Manitoba, where he was detained until his release on 8 May 2015.[1][2]


On 30 July 2008, Tim McLean, a carnival barker, was returning home to Winnipeg after working at a fair in Edmonton.[3][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 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 in Brandon. 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 him in the neck and chest. After the attack began, the bus driver pulled to the side of the road, and he and all the other passengers fled the vehicle. The driver and two other men made an attempt to rescue McLean, but were chased away by Li, who slashed at them from behind the locked bus doors. Li ultimately decapitated McLean and displayed his severed head to those standing outside the bus, then returned to McLean's body and began severing other 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 immobiliser system, rendering the vehicle inoperable. Witnesses had observed the suspect stabbing and cutting McLean's body with a knife, 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 twice with a Taser, 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 in spite of his vehement denial, 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]

Tim McLean[edit]

Tim McLean
Timothy Richard McLean

(1985-10-03)October 3, 1985
DiedJuly 30, 2008(2008-07-30) (aged 22)
OccupationCarnival worker

Timothy Richard "Tim" McLean Jr., was born on October 3, 1985, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[10] He grew up both in Winnipeg and in Elie, Manitoba. He was 22 years old when he was killed on July 30, 2008. At the time of his death, McLean had been working as a carnival worker, specifically a carnival barker in Edmonton, Alberta. On December 21, 2008, five months after McLean's death, his son was born.[11]

Vince Li[edit]


Vince Li
Li Weiguang

(1968-04-30) April 30, 1968 (age 55)
Other namesWill Baker
Alma materWuhan Institute of Technology (BS)
OccupationMenial worker

Vincent Weiguang "Vince" Li (Chinese: 李伟光; pinyin: Lǐ Wěiguāng)[12] was born in Dandong, Liaoning, on April 30, 1968. In 1992, Li graduated from Wuhan Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in computing. From 1994 to 1998, Li worked in Beijing as a computer software engineer. Li immigrated to Canada on June 11, 2001[13][14][15] (though some newspapers mistakenly reported 2004),[16] and became a Canadian citizen on November 7, 2006.[9]

Starting in the fall of 2004, he worked in Winnipeg at menial jobs at Grant Memorial Church for six months to support his wife, Anna.[17] 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 very patient staff members 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.[18] He began working as a forklift operator in Winnipeg that same year's summer while his wife worked as a waitress.

According to Stanley Yaren, his court psychiatrist, Li told him that he had converted to Christianity and was baptised during his employment at Grant Memorial Church, after he heard the "voice of God" talking to him. Li said that the voice called him the "third story of the Bible", as well as the "second coming of Jesus", destined to save people from an alien invasion. In preparation, the voice would regularly order Li to travel through the country on foot or by bus, often disappearing from his home for days on end, as corroborated by his wife.[9] Due to his paranoid belief that he was constantly under threat by alien infiltrators, Li began carrying a buck knife on his person for protection; he would ultimately use it to kill McLean. These delusions would later be ascribed to undiagnosed schizophrenia.[19][20] Li had previously been examined at William Osler Health Centre following an incident in 2005, when he was found wandering a highway to Winnipeg by Ontario Provincial Police and stated that he was "following the sun" at the command of God.[9] Despite some local newspapers reporting that Li was diagnosed with schizophrenia by staff there and refused medication, official records show that Li was never documented for mental illness, though it was noted at Li's trial that his maternal uncle suffered from an unspecified psychiatric disorder.[21][22][23]

Li first moved to Edmonton in 2006, abruptly leaving his wife alone in Winnipeg until she joined him later.[24] His jobs included work as a janitor, mechanic and cashier at a Wal-Mart, service at a McDonald's restaurant, and newspaper delivery.[12][17] His delivery boss, Vincent Augert, described Li as reliable, hard-working and not showing any signs of trouble.[18]

Four weeks before the killing, Li was fired from Wal-Mart following a disagreement with another employee.[24] Shortly before the incident, he asked for time off from his delivery job to go to Winnipeg for a job interview.

July 29, 2008[edit]

At 12:05 p.m. on 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 for $60.[25][26] The laptop was seized by the RCMP as evidence; the boy was subsequently given a new laptop for his honesty by an anonymous businessman.[27]

Witness Garnet Caton said the attacker seemed oblivious to others when the stabbing occurred, adding he was struck by Li's calm demeanour. "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 "Please kill me".[5][16]


Li's trial commenced on March 3, 2009, with Li pleading not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. This means he accepted that the offence occurred but claimed that he was unable to form the necessary mental element or mens rea.[28] Stanley Yaren said that his patient's schizophrenia rendered him inculpable, as he had been under the false belief that McLean was a "force of evil" and posed an imminent threat to himself and others. In Li's mind, McLean was really a demon in disguise and an alien who needed to be "destroyed", to the point where he felt it was necessary to mutilate McLean's body to prevent him from coming back to life.[9] Li had also felt pressured to perform the attack by voices he believed were from God, telling him to kill McLean sitting beside him, or he would be killed himself.[19][29][30] Both the defense and the prosecution were in agreement with Yaren's assessment and spoke in favor of involuntary commitment to a mental institution rather than prison time.[31] The presiding judge, John Scurfield, accepted the diagnosis, and ruled that Li was not criminally responsible for the killing.[1] Li was remanded to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.[32]


The week following the attack, Greyhound Canada announced it was pulling a series of nationwide advertisements which included the slogan, "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.[33]

  • The family of Tim McLean have brought a lawsuit of $150,000 against Greyhound, the Attorney General of Canada, and Vince Li.[34]
  • On June 3, 2010, Li was granted supervised outdoor walks within his mental health facility as voted by the provincial review board.[35]
  • On February 16, 2011, two passengers, Debra Tucker and Kayli Shaw, filed a lawsuit against Li, Greyhound, the RCMP, and the Canadian government for being exposed to the beheading. They were each seeking $3 million in damages.[36] On July 14, 2015, the two women dropped their lawsuit.[37]
  • On May 30, 2011, CBC reported that Li was responding well to his psychiatric treatment and that his doctor had recommended that he receive more freedoms, phased in over several months.[38]
  • On May 17, 2012, the National Post reported that Li had been granted temporary passes that would allow him out of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre for visits to the town of Selkirk, supervised by a nurse and peace officer.[39] In an interview with Chris Summerville of The Schizophrenia Society of Canada, Li spoke publicly for the first time, sharing that his condition is slowly improving. He is being prescribed Olanzapine, and was learning about schizophrenia, as well as ways to cope with it in a healthy manner. Li affirmed his guilt, saying he "can never forget the Greyhound bus" and that he believes that he can never be happy again, acknowledging that McLean's family likely won't forgive him. When asked for parting words, Li offered an apology to McLean's mother, stating "I would like to say to Tim McLean's mother, I am sorry for killing your son. I am sorry for the pain I have caused. I wished I could reduce that pain."[40][41]
  • On February 27, 2014, CBC reported that on March 6, Li would be allowed to have unsupervised visits to Selkirk, starting at 30 minutes and expanding to full-day trips. Since 2013, he had been allowed to have supervised visits to Lockport, Winnipeg, and nearby beaches. Those visits were then relaxed.[42]
  • On July 17, 2014, the Toronto Sun reported that one of the first officers on the scene, Corporal Ken Barker of the RCMP, had committed suicide.[43] The family stated in his obituary that he had posttraumatic stress disorder.[44]
  • On February 27, 2015, CBC News reported that Li was given unsupervised day passes to visit Winnipeg so long as he carried a functioning cellular telephone while using them.[45]
  • On May 8, 2015, CTV News reported that Li would be granted passes to group homes in the community.[46]
  • In February 2016, it was reported that Li had legally changed his name to Will Lee Baker and was seeking to leave his group home to live independently.[47][48] He won the right to live alone on February 26 upon the recommendation of the Criminal Code Review Board.[49]
  • On February 10, 2017, the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board ordered Li be discharged. Li was granted an absolute discharge. There will be no legal obligations or restrictions pertaining to Li's independent living.[50][51]

Further reading[edit]

Vincent (Cider Press, 2015), a book-length poem by American poet Joseph Fasano, is a fictionalized work based loosely on the event.[52][53][54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c McIntyre, Mike (6 March 2009). "I saw the entire attack, heard the screams ... Vincent Li not criminally responsible for bus killing, beheading, cannibalization". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on 15 March 2009. Retrieved 5 March 2009.
  2. ^ "Vince Li, who beheaded bus passenger, granted move to group home". CTV News. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Accused still hears voices, as much a victim as beheaded passenger: psychiatrist", Canadian Press, 3 March 2009, retrieved 3 March 2009
  4. ^ "CBC: Fifth Estate Timeline". Archived from the original on 15 July 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e Friesen, Joe (6 August 2008). "'Please kill me,' accused begs in court". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b Kitching, Chris. RCMP identify man accused of beheading victim[permanent dead link], Winnipeg Sun, August 1, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d Friesen, Joe (1 August 2008). "A quiet ride - then carnage". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  8. ^ "Police don't know what prompted vicious bus attack". 31 July 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  9. ^ a b c d e Puxley, Chinta (3 March 2009). "Man pleads not guilty in bus beheading". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Timothy Richard McLean, Jr". Winnipeg Free Press.
  11. ^ "Agony continues for Tim McLean's family". Winnipeg Sun.
  12. ^ a b Xiao, Tang (3 March 2009). "加拿大华裔巴士杀手被判无罪 将被送进精神病院治疗". Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  13. ^ McIntyre, Mike. 'Please kill me,' pleads man accused in beheading murder[permanent dead link], National Post, August 5, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.[dead link]
  14. ^ Now a citizen, beheading suspect cannot be deported Archived 2011-06-28 at the Wayback Machine, Winnipeg Free Press, August 10, 2008. Accessed February 17, 2011.
  15. ^ Accused in bus slaying ordered to get psychiatric assessment, CBC News, August 5, 2008. Accessed August 12, 2008. Archived August 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ a b Gillies, Rob. Canada bus beheading suspect says 'please kill me', Associated Press, August 5, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008. Archived August 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ a b "Timeline to the Greyhound bus killing". CBC News. 6 August 2008.
  18. ^ a b "Accused killer described as hard worker". 4 August 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  19. ^ a b "Canada bus killer Vince Weiguang Li 'believed victim was alien'". BBC News. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  20. ^ "Greyhound killer believed man he beheaded was an alien". CBC. 22 May 2012.
  21. ^ "Man who brutally killed fellow bus passenger 'reclusive' but 'decent'". Grand Forks Herald. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  22. ^ White, Patrick (6 March 2009). "How the mental health system failed Vince Li". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  23. ^ Posted, Dan Lett. "Mar 2009: Opinion: Tormented by mental illness". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  24. ^ a b Steve Lillebuen, Jennifer Yang. Alleged beheader lost Wal-Mart job over conflict with fellow worker Archived 2008-08-05 at the Wayback Machine, Calgary Herald, August 4, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  25. ^ Giroday, Gabrielle (6 August 2008). "Li sold laptop before slaying". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on 9 August 2008. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  26. ^ Friesen, Joe (5 August 2008). "'Please kill me,' accused pleads". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 10 August 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  27. ^ Parent, Tim (6 August 2008). "Montreal businessman to help Manitoba boy who bought laptop off accused killer". Archived from the original on 2 November 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2009.
  28. ^ Puxley, Chinta (4 March 2009). "Man pleads not guilty in bus beheading". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
  29. ^ "Canada judge: Man not responsible for beheading". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  30. ^ "Judge: Beheading Suspect Not Responsible". Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  31. ^ "Canada judge: Man not responsible for beheading". Statesboro Herald. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  32. ^ "Killer Vince Li to walk in unfenced area". 30 July 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
  33. ^ Rynor, Becky. Greyhound pulls 'bus rage' ads Archived 2008-08-09 at the Wayback Machine , The Windsor Star, August 5, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
  34. ^ "10 years after Greyhound beheading, family of victim and bystanders still suffering". Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  35. ^ "Li granted walks supervised outside". 3 June 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  36. ^ Winnipeg Free Press."RCMP, Greyhound, feds sued over McLean beheading". 16 February 2011.
  37. ^ Global News. "Women drop lawsuit in bus beheading". 14 July 2015.
  38. ^ "Bus beheader responds to treatment: psychiatrist". CBC News. 30 May 2011.
  39. ^ "Vince Li wins right to escorted trips into community". National Post. 17 May 2012.
  40. ^ Canada cannibal says he believed victim was an alien, The Daily Telegraph, May 23, 2012
  41. ^ "Vince Li speaks for the first time". CTV News. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  42. ^ "Vince Li granted unsupervised outings". CBC News. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  43. ^ Cop at scene of 2008 Manitoba bus beheading commits suicide Archived 2014-07-19 at the Wayback Machine, The Toronto Sun, July 17, 2014
  44. ^ Ken Barker Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, July 16, 2014
  45. ^ "Vince Li, man in bus beheading, granted unsupervised passes to Winnipeg". Manitoba - CBC News. 27 February 2015. Li will be granted day passes to visit Winnipeg unsupervised as long as he carries a working cellphone with him
  46. ^ "Vince Li granted move to group home". CTV News. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  47. ^ Lambert, Steve (23 February 2016). "Man who beheaded fellow bus passenger wants to live on his own". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016. Vince Li appeared before a Criminal Code Review Board on Monday under the new name of Will Baker.
  48. ^ "Vince Li, man who beheaded passenger on Greyhound bus, given absolute discharge". 10 February 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  49. ^ Lambert, Steve (26 February 2016). "Vince Li, Man Who Beheaded Greyhound Passenger, Wins Right To Live Alone". HuffingtonPost.Ca. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 26 February 2016. opponents, including some politicians and McLean's mother, have opposed the board granting Baker increasing freedom. "The Crown has the ability to view Will Baker ... as a designated high-risk not criminally responsible person, but they have chosen not to," Conservative MP James Bezan wrote in a statement.
  50. ^ "Vince Li, man who beheaded passenger on Greyhound bus, given absolute discharge". CBC News. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  51. ^ "Mentally ill man who beheaded bus passenger is freed from all supervision". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  52. ^ "Vincent". Cider Press Review. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  53. ^ "Interview with Joseph Fasano". Combustus. 16 March 2013.
  54. ^ Miljure, Ben. "New book offers imagined perspective of Greyhound bus killer". CTVNews Winnipeg. Retrieved 23 March 2015.