Killing of Tim McLean

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Killing of Tim McLean
LocationPortage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada
DateJuly 30, 2008 (2008-07-30)
12:01 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. (CDT)
Attack type
Decapitation, Human cannibalism, and stabbing
DeathsTim McLean
PerpetratorVince Li

The killing of Tim McLean 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 along the Trans-Canada Highway, about 30 km (19 mi) west of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. On March 5, 2009, McLean's killer, a 40-year-old Chinese-Canadian named Vince Li,[1] was found not criminally responsible (NCR) for the murder, and was remanded to a high-security mental health facility in Selkirk, Manitoba, where he was detained until his release on May 8, 2015.[1][2]


On July 30, 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 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 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 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]

Tim McLean[edit]

Tim McLean
Timothy Richard McLean

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

Timothy Richard "Tim" McLean, Jr., was born on October 3, 1985, in Victoria, British Columbia.[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 "carnie", specifically a carnival barker.

Vince Li[edit]


Vince Li
Vincent Weiguang Li

(1968-04-30) April 30, 1968 (age 53)
Other namesWill Baker
OccupationMenial worker
Conviction(s)Killing of Tim McLean
Criminal penaltyNot criminally responsible due to mental disorder

Vincent Weiguang "Vince" Li was born in Dandong, China, 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[11][12][13] (though some newspapers mistakenly reported 2004),[14] and became a Canadian citizen on November 7, 2006. The psychiatrist Stanley Yaren, who later examined Li, said Li was hospitalized in 2003 or 2004 after an incident with the Ontario Provincial Police.[15]

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 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. 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.[16] 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.[16] 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 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.[17][18] The laptop was seized by the RCMP as evidence; the boy was subsequently given a new laptop for his honesty by an anonymous businessman.[19]

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 pleas for someone to kill him.[14]


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.[9] The psychiatrist said that Li performed the attack because he was hearing voices he believed were from God, telling him to destroy the demon sitting beside him, or he would be killed himself. 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.[20]


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.[21]

  • On June 3, 2010, Li was granted supervised outdoor walks within his mental health facility as voted by the provincial review board.[23]
  • 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.[24] On July 14, 2015, the two women dropped their lawsuit.[25]
  • 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.[26]
  • 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.[27] 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.[28]
  • 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.[29]
  • 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.[30] The family stated in his obituary that he was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.[31]
  • 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.[32]
  • On May 8, 2015, CTV News reported that Li would be granted passes to group homes in the community.[33]
  • In February 2016, it was reported that Li had legally changed his name to Will Baker and was seeking to leave his group home to live independently.[34] He won the right to live alone on February 26 upon the recommendation of the Criminal Code Review Board.[35]
  • 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.[36][37]

In media[edit]

Vincent (Cider Press, 2015), a book-length poem by American poet Joseph Fasano, is a fictionalized work based loosely on the event.[38][39][40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c McIntyre, Mike (March 6, 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 March 15, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2009.
  2. ^ "Vince Li, who beheaded bus passenger, granted move to group home". CTV News. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  3. ^ "Accused still hears voices, as much a victim as beheaded passenger: psychiatrist", Canadian Press, March 3, 2009, retrieved March 3, 2009
  4. ^ "CBC: Fifth Estate Timeline". Archived from the original on July 15, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2011.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  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[permanent dead link], Winnipeg Sun, August 1, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d 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 (March 4, 2009). "Man pleads not guilty in bus beheading". The Toronto Star. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  10. ^ Timothy Richard McLean, Jr.
  11. ^ 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]
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ "Man pleads not guilty in bus beheading - The Star". Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Giroday, Gabrielle (August 6, 2008). "Li sold laptop before slaying". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on August 9, 2008. Retrieved August 7, 2008.
  18. ^ Friesen, Joe (August 5, 2008). "'Please kill me,' accused pleads". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on August 10, 2008. Retrieved February 19, 2011.
  19. ^ Parent, Tim (August 6, 2008). "Montreal businessman to help Manitoba boy who bought laptop off accused killer". Archived from the original on November 2, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  20. ^ "Killer Vince Li to walk in unfenced area". July 30, 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ "10 years after Greyhound beheading, family of victim and bystanders still suffering". Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  23. ^ "Li granted walks supervised outside". June 3, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2011.
  24. ^ Winnipeg Free Press."RCMP, Greyhound, feds sued over McLean beheading". February 16, 2011.
  25. ^ Global News. "Women drop lawsuit in bus beheading". July 14, 2015.
  26. ^ "Bus beheader responds to treatment: psychiatrist". CBC News. May 30, 2011.
  27. ^ "Vince Li wins right to escorted trips into community". National Post. May 17, 2012.
  28. ^ Canada cannibal says he believed victim was an alien, The Daily Telegraph, May 23, 2012
  29. ^ "Vince Li granted unsupervised outings". CBC News. February 27, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  30. ^ Cop at scene of 2008 Manitoba bus beheading commits suicide Archived 2014-07-19 at the Wayback Machine, The Toronto Sun, July 17, 2014
  31. ^ Ken Barker Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, July 16, 2014
  32. ^ "Vince Li, man in bus beheading, granted unsupervised passes to Winnipeg". Manitoba - CBC News. February 27, 2015. Li will be granted day passes to visit Winnipeg unsupervised as long as he carries a working cellphone with him
  33. ^ "Vince Li granted move to group home". CTV News. May 8, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  34. ^ Lambert, Steve (February 23, 2016). "Man who beheaded fellow bus passenger wants to live on his own". Yahoo!. Retrieved February 26, 2016. Vince Li appeared before a Criminal Code Review Board on Monday under the new name of Will Baker.
  35. ^ Lambert, Steve (February 26, 2016). "Vince Li, Man Who Beheaded Greyhound Passenger, Wins Right To Live Alone". HuffingtonPost.Ca. 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.
  36. ^ "Vince Li, man who beheaded passenger on Greyhound bus, given absolute discharge". CBC News. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  37. ^ "Mentally ill man who beheaded bus passenger is freed from all supervision". The Guardian. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  38. ^ "Vincent". Cider Press Review. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  39. ^ "Interview with Joseph Fasano". Combustus.
  40. ^ Miljure, Ben. "New book offers imagined perspective of Greyhound bus killer". CTVNews Winnipeg. Retrieved March 23, 2015.