TCNZ visits Canada: Greyhound Bus 1170 (PART II)

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, CANADA. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which sufferers interpret reality abnormally. This can manifest with disordered thinking, delusions and hallucinations.

During a psychotic episode of schizophrenia, the sufferer may be hearing and seeing things that aren’t really there, or believe that something is controlling their thoughts. Sometimes a combination of these symptoms, this ‘disordered thinking’ can also lead to dysfunctional impulsivity and impulsive aggression. And sometimes, innocent people get hurt.

Visit www.truecrimenz.com for more information on this case including sources and credits.

Hosted by Jessica Rust

Written and edited by Sirius Rust

Music sourced from:

Day of Chaos by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3620-day-of-chaos
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Cryptic Sorrow by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3568-cryptic-sorrow
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Sad Trio by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4314-sad-trio
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Mirage by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4057-mirage
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Synth Sequence and Vocal Pad by Divider Line
Link: https://archive.org/details/divider-lines-music-for-films/Music+for+Films/Dark+Stuff/Divider+Line+-+Music+for+Horror+Films+-+02+Synth+Sequence+and+Vocal+Pad.flac
License: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Synth Sequence and Vocal Pad by Divider Line
Link: https://archive.org/details/divider-lines-music-for-films/Music+for+Films/Dark+Stuff/Divider+Line+-+Music+for+Horror+Films+-+02+Synth+Sequence+and+Vocal+Pad.flac
License: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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The podcast version is the intended way to consume this story but we make a transcript available for those that would rather read instead. This can be found below.

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TCNZ visits Canada: Greyhound Bus 1170 (PART II)

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CHAPTER IV: THE VOICE OF GOD

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30th of July 2008. 40-year-old Vince Li sits on a bench in Erickson, Manitoba. He had been previously diagnosed schizophrenic in 2005, however, the condition was left untreated. 

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which sufferers interpret reality abnormally. This can manifest with disordered thinking, delusions and hallucinations. 

During a psychotic episode of schizophrenia, the sufferer may be hearing and seeing things that aren’t really there, or believe that something is controlling their thoughts. Sometimes a combination of these symptoms, this ‘disordered thinking’ can also lead to dysfunctional impulsivity and impulsive aggression. And sometimes, innocent people get hurt.

Earlier in July, Vince began experiencing a psychotic episode of schizophrenia. He began hearing the voice of God in his head, and God was telling him to ‘do things’, “I began to hear voices that normal people do not hear. I thought I heard the voice of God telling me to write down my journey. The voice told me that I was the third story of the Bible. That I was like the second coming of Jesus. I was to save people from a space alien attack. That is why I travelled around the country”.

Vince was previously on a bus bound for Winnipeg from Edmonton but had got off in Erickson, Manitoba, a tiny town of 500 people, because, “God told me to stay in Erickson, I waited on a bench, a pickup truck drove slowly past me. I took out my knife, I didn’t know if he was sent to kill me.”

The knife was previously purchased from Canadian Tire (a department store) while Vince was suffering through a delusional episode, “I bought a knife at Canadian Tire. I bought it for any emergency for the journey to protect myself from the aliens”. 

After a brief stay in Erickson, Vince took the next bus out of town, Greyhound bus 1170 bound for Winnipeg. The bus stopped about an hour later in Brandon, Manitoba for a quick meal and cigarette break.

The bus began moving again, the next stop was the small town of Portage la Prairie. Shortly after, Vince Li got up from his seat and wandered down the aisle, looking for the right victim for his God, he sat down next to 22-year-old carnival worker, Tim McLean, who was on his way home to Winnipeg, I am the evil son of an evil God. God chose me as the killer, and Tim McLean as the victim… God controls all people for his own reasons”.

Vince Li took out his large hunting knife, “The voices told me to kill him. That he would kill me or others”. He plunged the knife into Tim McLean’s throat with savage force, repeatedly, five, six, seven, eight.

The stabs continued to come. The bus driver, hearing the desperate screams of the terrified passengers, pulled over and everyone flooded off the bus, everyone except for Vince Li and Tim McLean. At this point, Vince had fiercely pulled Tim to the aisle floor where he continued to stab him, 58, 59, 60, 61.

Shortly after, two men rushed onto the bus to confront Vince. Undeterred, Vince continued with his directives and began sawing Tim’s head off, “I was really scared. I remember cutting off his head. I believed he was an alien”.

After severing the head of his victim. Vince Li picked up the head and ‘showed it off’ to the waiting passengers outside. Perhaps delusionally thinking he may be praised for killing the alien.

With the bus door locked, Vince looked back at Tim’s headless body on the floor, he believed the alien could reanimate itself. To remedy this, Vince returned to the lifeless body and began dissecting the corpse. He removed most of Tim’s organs, his heart, lungs and liver, even removing his eyes. In full view of the passengers, Vince then ate one of Tim’s eyes and devoured part of his heart. Vince even carved off Tim’s ears, tongue and nose, and stored them in his pockets.

After this, Vince retrieved plastic bags from his luggage. He returned to the body and began carving off pieces of flesh, storing the pieces in the bags, “I don’t know if I did the right thing. God commanded me, but it was my own hands, so I must die. God told me to put the body as far away as possible or it would come back to life, and kill me.

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CHAPTER V: BADGER IS ARMED

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30th of July 2008. Around 9 pm. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) from the nearby settlement of Portage la Prairie arrived at the scene. The RCMP is the equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States.

They secured the area and transported the stranded passengers to be interviewed. RCMP officers remained at the bus, trying to negotiate with the manic Vince Li, but in the process witnessed Vince parade Tim’s severed head around the bus, and even witnessed cannibalism. Police radios were heard reporting, “Badger is armed with a knife and a pair of scissors and he is defiling the body [in] the bus as we speak… hacking off pieces and… argh… eating it.”

At 11 pm, the RCMP Emergency Response Team (which is equivalent to NZ’s Anti-Terrorism Squad) arrived on the scene. Negotiators tried to speak to Vince and arrange a peaceful end to the standoff. Vince Li was heard telling officers, “I have to stay on the bus forever”.

The standoff lasted for two and a half more hours as Vince Li was inside, defiling, and in some cases devouring Tim McLean’s body.

At 1.30 am the following morning, the 31st of July 2008, Vince Li smashed a window in the bus, he tossed out some belongings including the large hunting knife. Vince then pounced out the window headfirst, landing hard on the grass below. He was quickly tasered by RCMP officers, placed in handcuffs and escorted to a waiting police car. 

Vince Li was taken to Portage General Hospital in the nearby town of Portage la Prairie to be treated for a gash on his hand and a cut behind his ear, “I’m sorry. I’m guilty. Please kill me”, he kept repeating to the officers present, but wouldn’t elaborate on what he was sorry for.

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CHAPTER VI: PLEASE KILL ME

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Five days later, Vince Li stood in court after being charged with second-degree murder. “Please kill me” he uttered under his breath to the judge. At this point, he had offered no explanation to anyone, including his lawyer for his actions.

The judge ordered a psychiatric assessment on Vincent Li to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. 

The psychiatric assessment was carried out by Dr Stanley Yaren, in a series of interviews conducted over the next eight months, Vince Li slowly opened up to the doctor about what was going through his head that fateful day on the 30th of July 2008, many of the quotes you’ve heard today from Vince Li came from those interviews which we sourced from the CBC documentary Bus 1170: Vince Li and the Greyhound Bus Murder.

At Vince’s trial for second-degree murder on the 3rd of March 2009, Vince plead not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder. Dr Stanley Yaren told the court, “A voice from God told him Mr McLean was a force of evil and was about to execute him… In response to that, in a state of panic and fearful for his life, he carried out the acts that he did… Mr Li did not understand he was killing an innocent bystander. He did not understand his actions were wrong… It would be in some sense easier if Mr Li was an anti-social psychopath with a history of malicious behaviour, but he isn’t that. He is, as I’ve come to know him, a decent person. He is as much a victim of this horrendous illness … as Mr McLean was a victim.

The judge accepted this diagnosis and Vincent Li was remanded to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.

Four years passed. In 2012, Vince Li conducted an interview with the CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, Chris Summerville. The interview was printed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the interview concluded with Chris asking Vince if he was happy, to which he replied no and that he could never forget the Greyhound Bus. Before asking finally if he had any final words, Vince spoke: “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.”

Vincent Li was gradually given more and more freedom. In 2012 he was given temporary passes to visit the town of Selkirk supervised by a nurse or peace officer. In 2014, those trips became unsupervised but only for a maximum of 30 minutes.

In 2015, those trips to Selkirk became unsupervised day trips. That same year, Vince started living in a group home in the community of Selkirk. The next year, he was granted the right to live alone.

Finally, in 2017, the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board ordered Vincent Li an absolute discharge. There are no legal obligations for him to follow and no restrictions on his movements. He also has no criminal record. Vincent Li changed his name to Will Lee Baker to distance himself from the past. His current whereabouts and circumstances are unknown.

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CHAPTER VII: A GIFT FROM GOD

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The tragic and horrible killing of 22-year-old Tim McLean is still mourned by his friends and family to this day as they struggle to come to terms with the circumstances of his death. They never got closure, they never got to see their son and friend again and say goodbye as his remains were “unviewable”.

Tim’s father and mother have remained vocal that they don’t believe justice was served in this case. At an impromptu press conference held after the sentencing of Vincent Li to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, Tim’s mother Carol De Delley told the press, “He should be held responsible for it, he still did it. Whether he was in his right frame of mind or not, he still did the act. There was no one else on that bus holding a knife, slicing up my child”.

Tim’s family began a petition to bring into law, ‘Tim’s Law’ which, as written on their website, would be a law “To amend the Criminal Code of Canada to ensure those who commit murder but are found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of a Mental Disorder are detained for a minimum period of time.” 

However, Carol ended her petition for Tim’s Law in 2014, after five years. She told CBC that same year, she was ending the petition because it only had 1,200 signatories. 

Five months after Tim’s death, on the 21st of December 2008, Tim’s longtime friend and one-time flatmate, Colleen Yestrau gave birth to a boy, Tim’s son. Which apparently came as a surprise to Tim’s mother and father. However, it would seem the young mother struggled to bring up the young boy as guardianship was transferred to his grandmother Carol De Delley in 2016. Carol told the CBC in 2018, “He is a gift from God sent by my son to give me a reason to get up every day and to take care of, and I’m doing that to the best of my ability.”

However, Colleen still has some part in her son’s life, a Facebook post in 2019 by Colleen Yestrau shows a picture of Colleen with her son at Tim’s grave, with the caption, “Tim, our son and I think of you everyday”. She added in the comments below, “[Our son is] such a blessing from God, so thank ful to have him in my life… tim was a wonderful person, it was privilege to know him, he was my best friend… we were school mates and its turned into 17 years of friendship”.

It would also seem that there are some complications with Carol De Delley and her ex-husband Tim McLean Senior regarding their grandchild. In a 2018 article by the CBC, Tim Sr. told the reporter that he had not seen his grandson in years due to ‘disagreements’ with his ex-wife, “I’m sad we don’t have any recent pictures of him… Great memories. Unfortunately, they’re just memories.” It is unknown if these ‘disagreements’ have been resolved in the years since.

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EPILOGUE: NEVER SAY GOODBYE

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As our plane leaves the tarmac and we begin the 14-hour flight back home to Aotearoa, we leave the great nation of Canada with many things to ponder. Our mind thinks back to similar cases in NZ’s history, the case of Stephen Anderson in 1997, who shot ten people, killing six while suffering a psychotic episode and was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and then was released 12 years later. Is that really enough punishment for so much suffering? Did justice get served? Should sufferers of psychosis be punished at all? Is our bloodlust misdirected, and really we should be feeling sympathy?

Chris Summerville, the CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, who interviewed Vincent Li in 2012 has an interesting perspective, he told the CBC that same year, “Of the 300,000 people in Canada who live with some form of schizophrenia, the vast majority lead quiet, law-abiding lives hoping for some quality of life. People living with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence rather than being perpetrators of violence… Schizophrenia is treatable. Recovery is possible.

Studies vary but on average people with schizophrenia are around twice as likely to have a violent conviction as the general public. However, shedding some light on this subject Rebbeca Syed wrote in the article ‘Are you really at risk of attack by someone with schizophrenia?’ for the website The Conversation, “We know there is a higher rate of violence in those who’ve developed schizophrenia before they even seek help from services. I’m pretty sure that if I was suffering from schizophrenia I would be more likely to go to services that offered help for my illness rather than those seen as punitive and risk-obsessed. Sadly, the over-emphasis on risk of violence is a grave disservice to many suffering from a debilitating but treatable illness.”

Nonetheless, victims of the events perpetrated on Greyhound bus 1170 on the 30th of July 2008 continue to struggle with the carnage they witnessed. One of the passengers, Kayli Shaw, told the CBC in 2017, speaking about Vince Li’s freedom, “This is not right. Mr. Baker is free. I am not free… I live with things everyday.

And some cannot live with the images they saw. Ken Barker, an RCMP officer who was there that fateful day, struggled mightily with ongoing post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the carnage at the scene of Tim McLean’s death. Reportedly, Ken began having flashbacks to the day in early 2014, when Vince Li was appearing in the papers due to his increased freedom. After this, Ken’s mental health declined rapidly, his sister Wendy Walder told The Star in 2014, “He sent text messages like ‘I think I’m too broken to ever be fixed’ and he would also say ‘I wish I had cancer because then people would understand.’”

Ken Barker attempted to commit suicide in May of 2014 but was found by his ex-wife and sister who rescued him. In July, Ken’s ex-wife Shari Barker visited his property, she found the door open, she called out to Ken — no answer. Ken’s sister, Wendy gave the context of this revelation to The Star in 2014, “He would say the front door will be open and don’t go into the basement. Shari went there and the front door was open and she called for him and he didn’t respond. She knew not to go to the basement. She called the paramedics.” Ken Barker was found dead in his basement, he had committed suicide.

Ken Barker’s obituary ran in the Winnipeg Free Press on the 16th of July 2014 to remember his life, it reads in part, “Ken loved camping at Rushing River with his family, our ski trips with the Heddens and Swandels, watching Kelly and Sam on the ice, lounging at the Barker’s pool, the camaraderie of his colleagues as well as any time spent with his dogs. He was known for his fondness of shopping, sense of style, love of music, above all The Rolling Stones, all things hockey including the Oilers, and cooking for his family, friends and colleagues. He was quick witted, had an awesome sense of humour and loved a good laugh. Ken suffered a long battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So many people reached out to him but as is common with PTSD, he would withdraw and isolate himself. A special thanks to Mark Kelly for his support to Ken and Shari, and to Dr. Neil Anderson, Dr. Alla Kirshner and Robert Davis for their professional help and really caring for Ken. Thank you as well to members of the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service and Winnipeg Police Department that tended to Ken”.

As the plane sets its wheels down in ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’, our thoughts linger on that fatal bus ride in Manitoba, Canada, on all the pain that came from it, and the grief that continues on today for those who are left behind. 

But mostly, our thoughts linger on poor Tim McLean, a man who was just starting his adult life. A man who only brought joy and happiness into the world, who was then snuffed out in a psychotic episode that, by definition, made no sense.

We offer our condolences to the friends and family of Tim McLean, even 13 years after the tragedy, for what is a wholly arduous and horrific catastrophe. To remember the 22-year-old taken from us too soon, Tim McLean’s obituary was published in the Winnipeg Free Press on the 7th of August 2008. It reads in part, “From your first breath you were loved beyond imagination, and although you were taken from us too quickly, we will never say goodbye, but for now see ya later. You will be carried in our hearts, minds and souls”.

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[END OF PART II] (2/2)

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SOURCES

Articles
Wikipedia, Killing of Tim McLean, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Tim_McLean
The Star, Man pleads not guilty in bus beheading, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2009/03/03/man_pleads_not_guilty_in_bus_beheading.html
Calgary Herald, Alleged beheader lost Wal-Mart job over conflict with fellow worker, https://web.archive.org/web/20080809095730/http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/story.html?id=9d10f756-7815-4110-b1c3-611a34a4494b&p=1
Murderpedia, Vince Weiguang LI, https://murderpedia.org/male.L/l/li-vince-weiguang.htm
Winnipeg Free Press, RCMP, Greyhound, feds sued over McLean beheading, https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Greyhound-RCMP-government-sued-ovre-McLean-beheading-116345794.html
Winnipeg Free Press Passages, TIMOTHY RICHARD MCLEAN JR., https://passages.winnipegfreepress.com/passage-details/id-138970/MCLEAN_TIMOTHY
Edmonton Journal, “I saw the entire attack, heard the screams …”, https://web.archive.org/web/20090315135511/http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Health/Beheader%2Bcriminally%2Bresponsible/1356476/story.html
CTV News, Vince Li, who beheaded bus passenger, granted move to group home, https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/vince-li-who-beheaded-bus-passenger-granted-move-to-group-home-1.2366319
CBC, Timeline, https://web.archive.org/web/20100715171115/http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2009-2010/bus_1170/timeline.html
The Globe and Mail, A quiet ride – then carnage, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/a-quiet-ride—then-carnage/article657355/
All That’s Interesting, Vince Li Beheaded And Ate His Victim — And He’s A Totally Free Man, https://allthatsinteresting.com/vince-li
CBC, Vince Li, man who beheaded passenger on Greyhound bus, given absolute discharge, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/vince-li-discharge-1.3977278
CBC, Vince Li is not evil; he’s sick. But the justice system is treating him like he’s cured: Robyn Urback, https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/vince-li-discharge-1.3979861
CBC, ‘I am not free’: Witness of Greyhound bus killing objects to Vince Li’s absolute discharge, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/will-baker-kayli-shaw-not-free-1.3979368
The Globe and Mail, ‘Please kill me,’ accused begs in court, https://web.archive.org/web/20080811012357/https://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080806.BUS06/TPStory/National
The Canadian Press, Accused still hears voices, as much a victim as beheaded passenger: psychiatrist, https://web.archive.org/web/20090306220154/https://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5g6yzZOswjctLEjNXiUzmeHDRbY2w
CBC, 10 years after Greyhound beheading, family of victim and bystanders still suffering, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/greyhound-beheading-10th-anniversary-1.4760074
CBC, Greyhound killer believed man he beheaded was an alien, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/greyhound-killer-believed-man-he-beheaded-was-an-alien-1.1131575
Aftermath of Murder, TIMOTHY MCLEAN KILLING (CAROL DE DELLEY INTERVIEW), https://www.aftermathofmurder.ca/timothy-mclean-killing-carol-
Dying Words, THE GUY ON THE GREYHOUND BUS, http://dyingwords.net/tag/vince-li/
CTV News, Tim McLean was ‘little guy’ with kind soul: family, https://www.ctvnews.ca/tim-mclean-was-little-guy-with-kind-soul-family-1.313169
Los Angeles Daily News, Tape describes killer eating victim’s flesh, https://www.dailynews.com/2008/08/03/tape-describes-killer-eating-victims-flesh/
The Star, Ex-RCMP corporal commits suicide years after Manitoba bus beheading, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/07/17/exmountie_commits_suicide_years_after_bus_beheading.html
Mayo Clinic, Schizophrenia, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443
WebMD, What happens during a psychotic episode for people with schizophrenia?, https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/qa/what-happens-during-a-psychotic-episode-for-people-with-schizophrenia
Psychiatric Times, Aggression and Impulsivity in Schizophrenia, https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/aggression-and-impulsivity-schizophrenia
Health Navigator New Zealand, Psychosis, https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/p/psychosis/
CTV, Police don’t know what prompted vicious bus attack, https://web.archive.org/web/20080907094303/https://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080731/Manitoba_bus_080731/20080731?hub=TopStories
CBC, Killer Vince Li to walk in unfenced area, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/killer-vince-li-to-walk-in-unfenced-area-1.965195
Tim’s Law, Sign the Petition, https://www.timslaw.ca/category/tims-law/
CBC, Mother of Tim McLean ends petition to change law, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/mother-of-tim-mclean-ends-petition-to-change-law-1.2502104
Winnipeg Free Press Passages, Ken Parker, https://passages.winnipegfreepress.com/passage-details/id-215423/Barker_Ken
The Conversation, Are you really at risk of attack by someone with schizophrenia?, https://theconversation.com/are-you-really-at-risk-of-attack-by-someone-with-schizophrenia-14656

Videos
Youtube, The Fifth Estate, Bus 1170 : Vince Li and the Greyhound Bus Murder (2011) – the fifth estate, https://youtu.be/3gAeVysCIl8
Youtube, Infamous Archives, WALKING FREE – Vince Li and Bus 1170, https://youtu.be/B_D_8brDur0

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