investigate the scene on a greyhound bus Thursday July 31, 2008 near
Portage La Prairie, Man. A man was stabbed and beheaded by another
passenger on the travelling bus Wednesday night. (Canadian Press photo)
- A quiet, easy-going carnival worker who was heading home to Winnipeg
has been identified as the victim of an unthinkably horrific and random
slaying on a Greyhound bus.
Friends said Tim McLean, 22, was the young man who was stabbed
repeatedly and then decapitated by a man sitting next to him, who then
carved up his body in front of terrified passengers.
William Caron, 23, of Winnipeg, said that contrary to some reports, McLean was not asleep when the attack happened.
"I was talking to one of his ex-girlfriends not too long ago, and she
was texting him the whole way back from Edmonton until 10 minutes
before this accident happens," Caron told The Canadian Press.
"He was just sitting there texting her, listening to music on his cellphone."
Manitoba RCMP had few answers Thursday as to what prompted the attack.
Police would only say that a victim was stabbed on the bus that had
left Edmonton for Winnipeg, but passengers described a gruesome,
unprovoked attack that left them shaken.
"It's not something that happens regularly on a bus," said Staff Sgt.
Steve Colwell. "You're sitting there enjoying your trip and then all of
a sudden somebody gets stabbed."
Passengers gave a much more graphic account of events.
"We heard this blood-curdling scream and turned around, and the guy was
standing up, stabbing this guy repeatedly, like 40 or 50 times," Garnet
Caton said from a hotel in Brandon, Man., where he and other passengers
had been taken to rest.
"There was no rage or anything. He was like a robot, stabbing the guy."
Caton said the bus stopped immediately, just west of Portage La Prairie
on Wednesday night, and everyone scrambled to get out while the
attacker started methodically carving up the victim's body, not paying
attention to anyone else.
There have been several media reports that the man was seen to consume some of the victim's flesh.
Caton and the driver shut the bus door from the outside while they waited for police to arrive.
"We put our bodies up against the door, waiting for him to come out ...
and he went back and brought the head to the front and pretty much
displayed it ... and dropped it on the ground in front of us," Caton
"All very calmly. He was wearing sunglasses. It was no big deal to him."
Fellow passenger Cody Olmstead from Kentville, N.S., also recalled the chilling scene.
"The guy came to the front of the door with buddy's head in his hands,
decapitated. He dropped the head and went back and started cutting the
body back up," Olmstead said.
When police arrived a few minutes later, passengers were taken away and the officers tried to get the attacker to surrender.
The man, described as a 40-year-old from outside the province,
eventually tried to flee by breaking a bus window and jumping out,
"He was immediately subdued and arrested without incident."
Both Olmstead and Caton said the attacker and McLean appeared not to know each other.
They said the attacker boarded the bus in Brandon on Wednesday night. McLean had been on the bus since it left Edmonton.
A Facebook website called "R.I.P. Tim" quickly sprang up.
"I can't believe this is happening," wrote Leah Dryburgh of Winnipeg.
"Tim, you were the best guy ever. You didn't deserve this at all."
Caron said he was one of McLean's best friends, having known each other since they were in Grade 7.
"I knew he was coming back ... from the (exhibition)," said Caron, who
said his buddy worked a carnival booth at fairs around western Canada.
"My brother was supposed to go meet him at the bus depot and he never showed up."
Caron said his three children all loved McLean, who he described as a quiet, easy-going guy.
"I was completely shocked cuz Tim has never been a roughhousing guy,"
he said. "He's always been a quiet guy, just kind of socialized with
his buddies and that was it."
He said his friend was small, around five-foot-four and weighing maybe 130 pounds.
"From what I hear, this other guy is three times his size," Caron said.
"All the time I've known Tim, he's never been the type of guy to get
into a fight with. He always kept to himself when there's strangers
Federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said the full weight of the law must be brought to bear on the perpetrator.
"We want to make sure the process is followed as aggressively as
possible, the full legal process ...." Day said from Levis, Que., where
Conservative MPs are gathered for a summer planning session.
"This particular incident, as horrific as it is, is obviously extremely
rare. Certainly the horrific nature of it is probably one-of-a-kind in
Greyhound called the event tragic but isolated.
A company spokeswoman said bus travel is the safest mode of
transportation, despite the fact bus stations do not have metal
detectors and other security measures used at airports.
"Due to the rural nature of our network, airport-type security is not
practical. It's a very different type of system," Abby Wambaugh said
from Greyhound's corporate offices in Texas.
Passengers had no explanation either as to what might have prompted the
attack. The suspect had been on the bus for only about an hour and
didn't even sit near McLean at first.
"He sat in the front at first, everything was normal," Caton said.
"We went to the next stop and he got off and had a smoke with another
young lady there. When he got on the bus again, he came to the back
near where I was sitting.
"He put his bags in the overhead compartment. He didn't say a word to
anybody. He seemed totally normal. About a half an hour later, we heard
this blood-curdling scream."
RCMP had not yet talked to the suspect, Colwell said.