Beheading suspect described as quiet, hard-working immigrant
Vince Weiguang Li, the accused in the gruesome beheading of a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba, was a quiet and hard-working custodian at Grant Memorial Church, according to a minister.
Pastor Tom Castor, who helped hire Li, 40, soon after he immigrated from China 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 in his Winnipeg office.
Castor's comments are the latest details to emerge about Li, a man accused of committing a crime that has horrified people around the world.
Li had come to Canada with his wife, Anna, to seek a new life. Like other churches, Grant Memorial offers new immigrants what it can to help them start, including menial jobs.
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.
Li quit his job at the church in the spring of 2005, and later moved to Edmonton, where his jobs included service at a fast-food restaurant and newspaper delivery. His delivery boss, Vincent Augert, also described Li as reliable, hard-working and not showing any signs of trouble.
Li asked for time off recently to go to Winnipeg for a job interview, but told his wife he was going for a family emergency, according to Augert.
On Monday, Li finished delivering his papers and disappeared, Augert said.
Li charged with second-degree murder
Two days later, near Portage La Prairie, Man., Tim McLean, a 22-year-old carnival worker riding a Greyhound bus to Winnipeg to visit family, was stabbed repeatedly and beheaded. Li was charged with second-degree murder.
Li has not entered a plea to the charge and said nothing during his first court appearance Friday. He remains in custody and is due back in court Tuesday.
Castor led his congregation Sunday in a special prayer for everyone affected by the tragedy. Church members were shocked by what had happened.
"We are hoping the right thing can be done and that God will lead in how things are handled," Julianna Enns said after the service.
The congregation is planning to offer support to Li and his wife. Some members have already spoken with Anna Li, who has left her apartment in Edmonton and wants to remain out of sight for the time being.
"She is shocked and very much afraid as to what this is going to mean for her own life," Castor said.
"She has simply requested that we not put a spotlight of attention on her at the moment. But people here knew her well, spent a lot of time with her. She was … [a] very gentle individual."
Also Sunday, friends of McLean organized a candlelight vigil on the steps of the Manitoba legislature. Some of the roughly 100 people who showed up clutched pictures of McLean and embraced each other silently.
McLean was also remembered during a memorial service that was held by fellow carnival workers on the last day of the Buffalo Days fair in Regina on Sunday morning.
His death has prompted thousands of messages of condolence to the McLean family on websites such as Facebook.
"I just wanted to say that I am so, so sorry for your loss. My heart and soul are hurting with you and for you," wrote Lisa Morgan of Inverness, Fla.
"I didn't know Tim McLean but I was shocked and disgusted to learn of his violent death. For an innocent man to be the victim of such a horrendous act of evil is so sad," wrote Lauren Furlong of Kitchener, Ont.