PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Manitoba – A traveler aboard a Greyhound bus repeatedly stabbed and then decapitated his seat mate, pausing during the savage attack in central Canada to display the head to passengers who had fled in horror, witnesses and officials said Thursday.
A 40-year-old man was arrested after the grisly slaying late Wednesday night aboard a bus en route from Edmonton, Alberta, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Steve Colwell told reporters.
Police apprehended the suspect early Thursday as he tried to escape from the bus about three hours after the attack, Colwell said.
Authorities said a motive had not been determined. They declined to identify the suspect or the victim, and provided few details about the attack.
But passenger Garnet Caton said the victim, who appeared to be about 19, was sleeping with headphones on when his seat mate suddenly began stabbing him as the bus traveled a desolate stretch of the TransCanada Highway, a dozen miles from Portage La Prairie.
Caton, sitting just one seat in front of the two men, said he heard no exchanges between them prior to the violence.
"We heard this bloodcurdling scream and turned around, and the guy was standing up, stabbing this guy repeatedly, like 40 or 50 times," Caton said from a hotel in Brandon, Manitoba, where he and other horrified passengers were taken.
Caton said the driver stopped the bus when he became aware of the savagery going on aboard and passengers scrambled off. He said the suspect appeared to be methodically cutting into the victim's body.
"When he was attacking him, he was calm ... like he was at the beach," said Caton. "There was no rage or, or anything. He was just like a robot stabbing the guy."
The bus driver, Caton and a trucker at the scene re-boarded to see what was happening.
Caton said he saw the suspect had the victim on the floor of the bus and "was cutting his head off and pretty much gutting him" with a large hunting knife.
The attacker turned toward them and the three men quickly left the bus, blocking the door as the attacker slashed at them through an opening. The three secured the door to prevent the man from fleeing. Caton said the driver disabled the vehicle after the attacker tried to drive it away.
As the three guarded the door with a crow bar and a hammer, the attacker went back to the body and calmly came to the front of the bus to show off the head.
Fellow passenger Cody Olmstead said the man "dropped the head and went back and started cutting the body." Olmstead said the man later taunted police and dropped the head in front of them.
Greyhound spokeswoman Abby Wambaugh said 37 passengers were aboard, many watching the on-board movie "Zorro" when the violence erupted.
"You're sitting there enjoying your trip and then all of a sudden somebody gets stabbed. I imagine it would be pretty traumatic," Colwell said.
He said the actions of truck driver, bus driver and Caton probably prevented anyone else from being hurt. They "were very brave."
The victim had been on the bus since Edmonton. Caton said the attacker boarded the bus in Brandon, Manitoba, about 80 miles west of Portage La Prairie.
The suspect had been on the bus about an hour and initially did not sit near the victim, Caton said.
"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," Caton said.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day called the attack bizarre, but did not discuss details, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation.