This week on True Crime 101 we cover the infamous Canadian Greyhound Bus murder. Genuinely upsetting and terrified, so readers (and listeners) have been warned. This story received massive coverage across Canada and the United States due to the absolute horrific crime and the complete randomness of the act.
Our story has two major characters: Tim McLean and Vincent Li.
Back in 2008, Tim was travelling around Canada working at fairgrounds. He was careful, funny and easy to be around. He decided he would head home and organize his life. He decided that he wanted to eventually move out to British Columbia and start his life there.
But first, he needed to take the Greyhound bus from Edmonton to McLean’s hometown of Winnipeg. He boarded the bus and got comfortable: it would be nearly 20 hours before he was home. Unfortunately, he never made it.
In 2008, Vincent Li was in a very dark place. He was struggling with severe mental illness, particularly untreated schizophrenia. He later reported that he heard “the voice of God” in his head, telling him what to do.
That “voice” told him to board the Greyhound bus 1170: the same one that Tim McLean was on. Eventually, Li decided to sit beside McLean, who was asleep against the window near the back of the bus. It was July 30, 2008.
In the middle of the night, in complete darkness, the “voice of God” told Li he was in danger. McLean would try to kill him, so Li needed to murder him first.
Li took out a hunting knife from his backpack and began to repeated stab sleeping McLean. Passengers screamed for the driver to pull the bus over on the highway in the middle of the night. Once stopped, passengers fled the bus while Vine Li continued to stab McLean at the back of the bus.
Li was barricaded on the bus with McLean’s body until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) figured out what to do. He would remain on the bus for hours.
Things get even more grim here: Li began to behead and cannibalize McLean while the bus passengers watched helpless from the road. Many who witness the scene (both passengers and first responders) have reported severe cases of PTSD afterwards.
Eventually Li was arrested when he tried to flee the bus. After days and days of analysis, Li was found mentally ill and unable to be criminally responsible for murder. Instead, he was institutionalised for nearly a decade at a high-security mental health facility in Selkirk, Manitoba.
After therapy, medications and treatment, the Criminal Code Review Board found Li rehabilitated and was given an Absolute Discharge. He was allowed to change his name and was released free and clear on May 8, 2015.
There will be no legal obligations or restrictions regarding Li’s independent living.
While this particular story on the 1170 Greyhound Bus is horrific, it brings up a bigger conversation in Canada. Can people who commit such a horrendous crime really be rehabilitated? Should someone who canalablizes another human really be set free?