"Nothing changed for everybody else. The traffic still went. The sun still shone. And it was so maddening to me that the whole world didn't just stop. Mine did. It stopped, and it took a long time to really want to get up every day."
-Carol de Delley, Tim's mother
It was the 30th of July 2008. A Wednesday. Twenty two year old Tim McLean got on to the 1170 Greyhound bus at Edmonton, Aberta, Canada. The bus was bound for Winnipeg, Manitoba and the route was along the Yellowhead Highway and through Saskatchewan. Tim was on his way home to Manitoba after working at a carnival in Alberta.
Working at the carnival was the ideal job for Tim at that point in his life. He got bored doing different jobs and much preferred to experience and live life instead of just going through the motions. He didn't want to be tied to one place and one job for long. The carnival provided him with some freedom and through the carnival, he had the opportunity to meet many different people each night. He loved talking to people and hearing about their lives and had many friends. Tim didn't need a lot of money to live. He wasn't materialistic and the things he loved the most were listening to music and his pet iguana Little Timmy.
That day, the 30th of July, Tim got the bus at midnight. It was a long journey from Edmonton to Winnipeg and he chose to sit alone at a seat at the back of the bus. He exchanged pleasantries with some other people on the bus and then put his headphones on to listen to some music.
The journey itself was quiet. The Legend of Zorro was on the television on the bus. As the bus traveled past Portage la Prairie, about 70km west of Winnipeg, a lot of the passengers tried to get some sleep as it was getting dark.
Tim was just in front of the restroom, sitting with his headphones on and leaning against the window trying to sleep when a man walked down the aisle and stood beside him. The man, forty year old Vince Li, got on the bus a number of stops after Tim, on the last leg of the journey, and had initially sat at the front of the bus. He got on the bus at Brandon at 6.55pm. But at some point during the journey, at around 8pm, he moved to the back of the bus and sat beside Tim. Tim had been on the bus for nineteen hours at that point. The passengers described the man as tall, wearing sunglasses and seemed perfectly normal. He put his bag in the overhead compartment and sat next to Tim. They sat together for half an hour until the other passengers saw Vince standing and they heard what was described as a "blood curdling scream."
Vince had a large hunting knife and was stabbing Tim in the throat and chest over and over again. One of the passengers believed he stabbed him 50-60 times. The passengers on the bus said prior to that moment there had been no tension and no altercation, Tim had been asleep. Vince was described by passengers as being like a robot as he repeatedly stabbed Tim and seemed in a calm state of mind and didn't say anything. The passengers began to scream and the bus driver pulled the bus over and opened the doors. The passengers all got off, leaving just Tim and Vince on the bus.
A trucker saw the passengers all standing on the side of the road and stopped his truck to see what was happening. He got a crowbar and hammer and bolted the door of the bus shut to prevent Vince escaping. At this stage, the police were on the way. The bus driver, seeing that Vince might be trying to drive the bus away, hit a button at the back to immobilize the bus.
As the thirty four passengers and bus driver all watched Vince on the bus in horror, he began to pace up and down the bus and walked over to Tim and decapitated him. He then held up his head, as if on display, to show the passengers and then dropped Tim's head on the floor of the bus. For three hours, Vince cut up Tim's body, removed some of his organs and ate some of his flesh and organs. The police and armed unit were present but tried to negotiate with Vince so they could arrest him without putting anyone else in danger.
At 1.30am, Vince broke a window on the bus and tried to escape but police caught him and arrested him. When they arrested him, Tim's blood was smeared on his face and Vince said to the police officers:
"I'm sorry. I'm guilty. Please kill me."
Who was the man responsible for stabbing and mutilating Tim and removing and then eating some of his internal organs?
Police discovered that Vince had moved from China to Canada in 2001 and became a Canadian citizen in 2005. He was a former Church custodian and computer programmer and he did not know Tim. Police were certain that before that day, they had never met each other.
Vince was charged with second degree murder and the Court heard that he was a diagnosed schizophrenic. The Court did not need to ascertain who killed Tim, those details were clear, the Judge needed to determine Vince's state of mind at the time he killed Tim only. Vince pleaded not criminally responsible because of a mental illness.
The Court heard that Vince was divorced but he maintained a relationship with his ex wife Ana and had been with her just before he left to get the bus to Winnipeg. Ana told police that in the Summer of 2004, Vince was acting weird and over the course of a number of days, he was not eating a lot and did not sleep. Ana recalled that “he cried a lot and told me he saw God”. Ana believed he was tired so purchased sleeping pills for him.
Vince had one psychiatric admission to hospital prior to Tim's death. In 2005, police found him walking on the highway in Ontario. He went to Ontario in search of work. He was admitted to William Osler Health Centre in Etobicoke and was allowed to be discharged against medical advice. He returned to Winnipeg and did not seek psychiatric help.
The Court heard that Vince was fired from his job in Walmart in July of 2008 and in the same month he experienced auditory hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations is sometimes referred to as hearing voices and is one of the most prevalent symptoms of schizophrenia. People diagnosed with schizophrenia may hear multiple voices that are male, nasty, repetitive and commanding. Vince believed that God spoke to him and told him to move from Edmonton to Winnipeg. He sold his possessions and took the bus to Winnipeg. The bus he got on was the same one Tim was on.
The Court heard that on that bus journey, without any provocation whatsoever, Vince attacked Tim and Tim suffered a severely violent death. He had been stabbed multiple times, some of his organs were removed and his eyes, part of his heart and pieces of his flesh were missing. The Prosecution told the Court that Tim struggled and tried to escape but he couldn't as Vince was standing beside the seat and blocking the aisle.
Tim's body parts were found in plastic bags on the bus. Police believed that his eyes and part of his heart were eaten by Vince. He denied that but the Court heard there was no other possible location where they could have been. Tim's ear, nose and tongue were found in Vince's pocket when he was arrested.
The Court heard from Psychiatrists from both the Prosecution and Defense and they argued that Vince could not be held criminally responsible because he had been having a psychotic episode. A Psychiatrist testified that he was hearing voices during the attack. He believed the voice was God's voice and told him that he needed to kill Tim because he was a force of evil and would execute him. Dr Stanley Yaren testified that:
"In response to that, in a state of panic and fearful for his life, he carried out the acts that he did."
The Court heard that Vince believed Tim was capable of coming back to life so mutilated him. Dr Yaran told the Court that:
"Mr Li did not understand he was killing an innocent bystander. He did not understand his actions were wrong."
The Court heard that after his arrest, Vince was still psychotic and still had hallucinations and heard voices. Dr Yaran told the Court that he was on strong anti-psychotic medication.
Vince told the schizophrenia society that:
"The voice told me that I was the third story of the Bible, that I was like the second coming of Jesus [and that] I was to save people from a space alien attack."
Before Vince took the bus journey, he left a note for his wife:
"I'm gone. Don't look for me. I wish you were happy."
The Judge found Vince not criminally responsible for the murder. He ordered him to be sent to a provincial Psychiatric facility. Vince spent seven years in treatment in a secure wing of a Psychiatric Hospital and in 2017, he received an absolute discharge. He was released from hospital.
After his release, Vince moved to Manitoba and he is not required to attend annual reviews or abide by conditions. He changed his name to Will Lee Baker.
Tim's mother, Carol de Delley, attended the House of Commons and Senate committee meetings to ask for changes to the law in relation to cases where the perpetrator is found not criminally responsible. She wants the law changed so anyone found not criminally responsible for a crime still serves time behind bars.
The barbaric circumstances surrounding Tim's death had a deep impact on those who witnessed the attack. Many of them are still suffering with PTSD as a result.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello