WINNIPEG, Manitoba – A man who witnesses said stabbed, beheaded and cannibalized a fellow traveler on a Greyhound bus immigrated to Canada from China four years ago and worked for a time as a church custodian, the pastor who employed him said.
Grant Memorial Church Pastor Tom Castor, who helped hire Vince Weiguang Li soon after he immigrated in 2004, said the man never showed any sign of anger or emotional problems.
"He seemed like a person who was happy to have a job, was committed to doing it well and didn't stand out in any way (in terms of) having anger issues or having any other issues," Castor said Sunday.
Li, 40, quit his job at the Winnipeg church in the spring of 2005 and later moved 840 miles northwest to Edmonton, where he worked at a fast-food restaurant and delivered newspapers. His paper delivery boss, Vincent Augert, also said Li was reliable, hardworking and did not show any signs of trouble.
Passengers on the bus described a horrific scene that began late Wednesday as they shuttled through the darkness along a desolate stretch of the TransCanada Highway about 12 miles from Portage La Prairie, Manitoba.
Thirty-seven passengers were abroad the Greyhound, some napping and others watching "The Legend of Zorro," when Li suddenly attacked his seat mate, 22-year-old Tim McLean.
Li allegedly stabbed McLean several dozen times as others fled the bus, witnesses said. He then severed McLean's head, displayed it to the frightened passengers gathered outside the bus and began hacking at the body. A police officer at the scene reported seeing the attacker hacking off pieces of the victim's body and eating them, according to a police tape leaked on the Internet.
Li faces second-degree murder charges. He said nothing during his first court appearance Friday and has yet to enter a plea. He remains in custody and is due back in court Tuesday.
Church officials vetted Li by talking to people listed on his application as personal references. They also checked for a criminal record. There were no signs of trouble.
"We are very thorough in our assessments, and there was nothing we could have foreseen," Castor said.
He said Li's wife, Anna, who immigrated with him from China, was "shocked and very much afraid as to what this is going to mean for her own life."