Greyhound Passenger Beheaded …. WHAT!?

31 July 2008 at 9:24 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Thursday July 31, 2008

Police said Thursday they didn’t know what prompted a passenger on a Greyhound bus heading to Winnipeg to viciously attack the man sitting next to him.

Passengers said the man repeatedly stabbed his seat-mate before beheading him and carrying the victim’s head around the bus.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Colwell wouldn’t confirm those details, but did say a 40-year-old suspect was in RCMP custody and police were planning to interview him.

No charges were immediately laid.

Colwell said the behaviour of the passengers and driver probably prevented anyone else from being hurt.

“It’s not something that happens regularly on a bus,” he said. “You’re sitting there enjoying your trip and then all of a sudden somebody gets stabbed. I imagine it would be pretty traumatic … the way they acted was extraordinary.”

Colwell said they “were very brave. They reacted swiftly, calmly in exiting the bus and as a result nobody else was injured.”

Shocked passengers described the horrific attack as something incomprehensible.

One moment, the quiet man near the back of the bus was minding his own business. The man hadn’t talked to anyone around him, and seemed to pay no attention to the younger fellow sitting next to him, who was listening to music on headphones.

The next moment, witnesses said, the older man stood up, still quiet, and repeatedly stabbed, then beheaded his younger victim.

“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 Thursday 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 and everyone scrambled to get out while the attacker started methodically carving up the victim’s body, not paying attention to anyone else.

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 said.

“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, the victim and his attacker were the only ones left on the bus, Colwell said.

“When attempts were made to have him exit and surrender to police were unsuccessful, additional resources including the RCMP emergency response team and negotiator team were called in to assist.”

The man eventually tried to flee by breaking a bus window and jumping out, Colwell said.

“He was immediately subdued and arrested without incident and is currently in RCMP custody.”

Both Olmstead and Caton said the attacker and the victim appeared not to know each other.

They said the attacker boarded the bus in Brandon Wednesday night. The victim, who Caton said appeared to be about 19, had been on the bus since Edmonton.

Police would not confirm the victim’s age and said his name would not be released until his family had been notified. The suspect’s name wasn’t released either.

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 Canadian history.”

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.

The bus was carrying 37 passengers and the driver to Winnipeg from Edmonton.

A portion of the east-bound Trans-Canada Highway was closed overnight as officers remained on the scene.

Passengers had not 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 his victim 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.”



Witness Account

Caton has given a terrifying account of what he witnessed to the Canadian Press. Here’s the text of that interview.

“He put his bags in the overhead compartment. He didn’t say a word to anybody. He seemed totally normal. He had sunglasses on. He sat down. And then, about a half an hour later, we heard this blood-curdling scream and turned around and the guy was standing up, stabbing this guy repeatedly, repeatedly, like, I dunno, must have been 40, 50 times in the neck and in the chest area. When he was attacking him, he was calm as like, it was like he was at the beach. He (was) totally calm, he didn’t say anything. There was no rage or, or anything. He was just like a robot stabbing the guy.

“We exited the bus. Everybody got off the bus. But a few of us, me and the trucker and one of the Greyhound drivers went back on the bus to go see what was going on and that’s when we saw … he had the guy on the ground, he was cutting his head off and pretty much gutting him.

“That trucker … he had a crowbar and we ran and got a hammer and stuff. Me and the other bus driver, there, tried to guard the door; put our bodies up against the door and, you know, waiting for him to come out and whatnot.

“And he went back and brought the head to the front and pretty much, you know, displayed it to us like that and then dropped it on the ground in front of us. Very calmly, all very calmly, he was wearing sunglasses and like, you know, it was no big deal to him.”


Honestly, I’ve really got to wonder how this guy could stab someone 40-50 times and NO ONE even attempted to TRY and help the victim!? He’s a young victim, believed to be about 19. He was just a kid (!!!) … and yet, no one tried to help him? There HAD to have been a couple men on the bus that could’ve tried to do something. Over power the guy, maybe? I know it’s easy to say things like this because I’m on the outside looking in and maybe I, as a small and petite woman, wouldn’t be brave enough to jump in to help but man … I just can’t believe there isn’t one report of someone trying to do something.

My thoughts and prayers are with the young man’s family. A senseless, random and brutal murder over nothing. This world is so fucked up.

How random this kid’s death is and I feel so bad for the family.



  1. Brian Dell said,

    The Globe and Mail reports that Caton is ex military and he wanted to take the man on but A) no one was keen on an unarmed struggle with a 200 lb psycho armed with a Rambo knife and B) it was pretty clear the victim was beyond saving such that most of the knifework was on a dead body.

    The cops did arrive within 10 minutes, but in Canada the police will generally only draw their weapons when the danger is imminent and by that point Caton, the bus driver, and a trucker with a crowbar who had stopped at the scene had managed to contain the attacker in the bus.

  2. Corprah Lanfrey said,

    thank you for your comment, Brian. Much appreciated. I was hoping there was just ONE report of someone trying. More info always helps and not knowing the attacker was 200lbs … that is a factor why no one maybe stepped in.

    However, from the first scream … to when it became 40-50 stabs … THAT is when I figured someone would’ve tried to help. If the witnesses can uequivocally state it was 40-50 times that means they were there as it happened … after just 1 or 2 stabs, the victim may have still been alive. That’s all i was really questioning.

  3. mylesfromnowhere said,

    They should ban greyhound buses.

  4. catchthevision said,

    Shame that, in the midst of all this tragedy, the first reaction is to criticise someone who was living through this hell and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives.

    Buses with seats and with luggage etc would be really tricky to navigate and stay safe in such circumstances.

    Can we just send out our condolences and sympathies to the victim’s family and friends, and to all who saw this happen?

  5. Corprah Lanfrey said,

    mylesfromnowhere: that’s a tad extreme dont you think? everyone still needs that option as a method of transportation. I think the problem lies within the lack of security and precautions taken regarding passenger safety.

    catchthevision: indeed. clearly, the attacker was disturbed in some way and if he had a mental illness thats another issue in itself but i agree with you wholeheartedly that prayers and thoughts need to be sent to the family.

  6. mylesfromnowhere said,

    Yes it is extreme…. sarcastic pre emptive response to those that will call for draconian searches and metal detectors at every Canadian bus station

  7. Corprah Lanfrey said,

    ha. ur point is duly noted.

  8. adamsemail said,

    The excuse for not doing something by saying the man was dead anyway, is no excuse. It’s this “follow the crowd, screaming out of the bus” mentality that has made us a society of sheep.

    Having been in the military myself, and having served overseas in three combat arenas, I know (not from personal experience) that cutting a mans head off is no easy task. There is a lot of back and forth going on and then there is the the spinal cord to deal with.

    What was everyone doing while all this was going on? The perp must have been giving it his full attention, it would not have been that difficult to find some type of deadly weapon and save the court system from a lengthy trial that’s going to result in a “crazy” plea with life in a hospital at the tax payers expense.

    And don’t think that if someone had stopped, hurt or even killed the perp, they would have been prosecuted. They wouldnt have.

  9. Corprah Lanfrey said,

    I agree with you adamsemail. My sentiments exactly. Though, I’m hearing that apparently, a lot of the other passengers were asleep when this happened. Mind you, again, it’s still no excuse. I just dont know why anyone didn’t throw a piece of luggage at him. Why no one tried to pull him off the victim. I dont know. I just feel like more could’ve been done. They said there was no rage. That he was like a robot .. so he MUST’VE been standing there for a GOOD while stabbing this guy 40-50 times.

  10. Update: Greyhound Passenger Beheaded … WHAT!? « Corprah Lanfrey said,

    […] March 2009 OLD COPRAH ARTICLE: Victim Tim McLean, […]

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