5 Canadian Murder Cases That Made National Headlines
Although it might seem like a lot of the worst murders happen across the border, there’s no shortage of crime in Canada. Infamous serial killers like Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, and Robert Pickton are well-known all over the world. This past year, Toronto native Dellen Millard was convicted on three counts of first degree murder for killing his father, ex-girlfriend and Tim Bosma, a stranger he met on the internet. Accused serial killer Bruce McArthur’s trial is set for 2020 as is accused mass murderer Alek Minassian’s. And those are just some of the more recent cases.
Going back a few years, here are a few more murder cases that made headlines across Canada.
On July 30, 2008 40-year-old Vincent Li sat next to 22-year-old Tim McClean on a Greyhound bus trip from Edmonton to Winnipeg. According to witnesses, Li suddenly pulled out a large knife and started stabbing a sleeping McClean repeatedly in the chest and neck. The bus driver pulled over so the rest of the passengers could get off the bus. A couple passengers attempted to rescue McClean but were unable to make it past Li. He was left on the bus where he proceeded to decapitate McClean and even consume parts of his flesh.
Li was arrested by the RCMP at the scene and subsequently charged with second degree murder to which he plead not criminally responsible. A psychiatrist testified that Li carried out the attacked because he thought God’s voice was telling him that McClean was a force of evil that was about to execute him. The judge accepted his insanity defence and he was sent to a mental health facility. After extensive therapy, Li was released from the hospital in 2017 to live independently.
On May 25, 2012 an 11-minute video called 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick was uploaded to Canadian shock website bestgore.com. It depicted an Asian male being stabbed and dismembered as well as acts of necrophilia and cannibalism. The authorities confirmed the video was authentic and identified the victim as Lin Jun, a Chinese international student who was attending Concordia in Montreal. A few days later, a package containing a left foot was delivered to the national headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. Another package containing a left hand was intercepted by Canada Post on its way to the Liberal Party.
Authorities quickly identified 30-year-old Luka Magnotta as the prime suspect in Jun’s murder. He became the subject of an Interpol Red Notice and an international manhunt was launched. He was apprehended at an internet cafe in Berlin on June 4th reading news stories about himself. Magnotta was charged with first-degree murder, offering indignities to a human body, distributing obscene materials, using postal service to distribute obscene materials, and criminal harassment. He plead not guilty claiming diminished responsibility due to mental disorders but was found guilty on all charges.
On December 6, 1989, in an attack known as the École Polytechnic massacre, 25-year-old Marc Lépine walked into the engineering school and opened fire killing 14 women and injuring four men and 10 more women. The attack, which lasted just under 20 minutes, ended when he turned the gun on himself committing suicide. According to witnesses, Lépine entered a classroom and separated the male and female students. He claimed he was “fighting feminism” before shooting all nine of the women, killing six of them. His suicide note blamed feminists for “ruining his life” and claimed politics for the motive behind the attack.
The massacre sparked nationwide debate over whether it was an anti-feminist attack and representative of wider societal issues or just an isolated attack by a disturbed young man. The attack initiated a gun control movement in Canada leading to the passage of Bill C-68 of the Firearms Act in 1995. New regulations including training of gun owners, screening of firearms applicants, and rules around gun and ammunition storage. Unfortunately, in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled to abolish non-restricted, or long-gun, registry. To this day, the École Polytechnic massacre is the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.
On October 10, 2008, 38-year-old Johnny Altinger told his friends he was going out on a date with a women he’d met on Plentyoffish. In the following days, Altinger’s friends received messages from him saying he was going on a long vacation in Costa Rica. Suspicious of the messages, his friends broke into his condo and found his passport and no evidence that he’d actually left of his own volition. The Edmonton Police Service laughed a homicide investigation and arrested 29-year-old Mark Twitchell not long after.
Twitchell was charged with first degree murder partly based on a document recovered from his computer entitled “SKConfessions”. The document begins with “This story is based on true events. The names and events were altered slightly to protect the guilty. This is the story of my progression into becoming a serial killer.” The “story” goes on to describe the process of luring a man to his garage, murdering him, and dismembering his body. During his trial, Twitchell admitted to killing Altinger and said he was inspired by Dexter, the Showtime series about a serial killer. His case was sensationalized and received international attention, and Twitchell was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole for 25 years.
Former Colonel Russell Williams was a decorated pilot and member of the Canadian Forces who had flown Canadian Forces VIP aircraft for dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip before he was arrested for murder in 2010. He was called in for questioning on suspicion in the disappearance of 27-year-old Jessica Lloyd and ended up confessing to numerous crimes including the murder of Corporal Marie-France Comeau, a military traffic technician who was found dead two years earlier. He was also charged with breaking and entering, forcible confinement and sexual assault.
Based on his confession, Williams was also connected to 48 cases of theft of women’s underwear dating back to 2006. When his Ottawa home was searched, police found stolen lingerie, neatly stored, catalogue and concealed. He also kept meticulous notes logging his crimes including photos and videos. Williams plead guilty to all charges against him and was sentenced to two concurrent terms of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. The Canadian Forces stripped him of his rank and medals and dismissed him in disgrace. They also burned his uniform, cut up his medals and shredded his commission scroll. He is currently incarcerated at the maximum security prison in Port-Cartier, Quebec.