The Dark Truth Of The Greyhound Bus Murder Case

On July 30, 2008, a Greyhound bus rolled along on the Trans-Canada Highway. With no warning, a normal bus ride turned deadly when Vince Li pulled out a knife and began stabbing the man sitting next to him, Timothy Richard McLean (via CBC). The frightened bus driver pulled the bus to the side of the road and fled, along with the other frightened passengers. Once off the bus, the group watched helplessly as Li then decapitated McLean. Li was eventually apprehended after attempting to escape the bus by jumping through one of its windows.

With such an unexpected and violent attack, the foremost question on everyone's mind was: Why? The attack on McLean was unprovoked. By all accounts, McLean was a likable guy and the two had not shown any earlier animosity toward one another. McLean, who was in the process of getting his life in order, was on the bus that day headed to his new home in British Columbia (via Murder Friends).

The disturbing details of the murder

The grotesque nature of the crime was shocking and it captured headlines around the world. Li and McLean were complete strangers, with the latter headed home to Winnipeg after being on the road as a carnival worker, fast asleep at the time of the attack, per Reuters. During the standoff, Li not only decapitated the 22-year-old, but started dismembering the body in front of horrified onlookers. The BBC reported that Li — who has since changed his name to Will Baker — also removed some of McLean's internal organs. Additionally, it's believed that he engaged in acts of cannibalism, per CBC

Li remained on the bus for six hours. The stand-off finally came to an end after he tried to escape by breaking a bus window. He was quickly captured by a heavily armed tactical squad. Upon his arrest, Li was found to have McLean's ear, nose, and mouth in a plastic bag tucked in his pants pocket. Following his arrest, Li underwent psychological evaluations and was deemed not criminally responsible for his actions and sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. 

Why did Vince Li Murder Timothy Richard McLean?

Vince Li's life was in disarray due to severe mental illness (via Murder Friends). Later, Li claimed he heard the voice of God. It was this divine voice, Li claimed, that instructed him to kill Timothy McLean to prevent McLean from killing him first. "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," Li reported said, according to the BBC.

McLean took his seat first and eventually, McLean fell asleep as the bus was traveling overnight for a total of 20 hours on its way to British Columbia. Li then took a seat next to a sleeping McLean.

The darkness of the story does not end with what Li did to McLean. Reuters reports that when Li was asked whether he wanted legal representation, he replied, "Please kill me." Li was found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. He was sent to a psychiatric facility. In 2017, Li, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was found to be rehabilitated and was allowed to go free. The real sentence, however, seemed to be placed on the family of Timothy McLean and the other passengers on board that bus.

Witnesses to the brutal attack have been forever affected

Since the Greyhound bus murder, many of the witnesses have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One such woman actually had her child taken away from her at birth because doctors feared her PTSD would prevent her from being able to care for the child, according to CBC News. A court awarded custody to the child's grandmother.

Tim Alguire was a truck driver who stopped and tried to intervene, helping to barricade Li inside the bus until police could arrive on the scene. He has been diagnosed with PTSD and confessed to CBC that he'd turned to alcohol to dull his pain. Clearly, though it's been more than a decade since the horrific incident, its effects still linger today.

Timothy McLean's parents were divorced prior to their son's murder, and the murder only caused their relationship to grow worse. "It was so maddening to me that the whole world didn't just stop. Mine did," McLean's mother, Carol, said. "I don't think we'll ever be over it," his father, Tim Sr., shared. Notably, McLean's son was born months after he was killed. He reportedly lives with his grandmother, who calls him "a gift from God sent by my son to give me a reason to get up every day."

The murder caused some unforseen issues for Greyhound

In a rather unfortunate coincidence, at the time of McLean's murder Greyhound was running an ad campaign that was intended to let potential passengers know that choosing a Greyhound bus for their next trip was a relaxing way to travel. However, that campaign's slogan was "There's a reason you've never heard of 'bus rage,'" and it was plastered on billboards across Canada. Given the high-profile and horrific nature of Li's attack onboard one of their buses, Greyhound pulled the ads rather quickly, according to the BBC.

Sadly, the attack in Canada was not the only instance of violence breaking out on a Greyhound bus. According to The Guardian, in February 2022, a man opened fire on a bus en route to Los Angeles. The bus was parked at a convenience store when the shots were fired, leading to the death of one woman and injuries to four others. The 21-year-old man who was later arrested — naked and in a Wal-Mart — was reported to have exhibited paranoid behavior leading up to the shooting.