Chinese Canadian man who beheaded and ate stranger walks free
Baker, a diagnosed schizophrenic, killed Tim McLean, a young carnival worker who was a complete stranger to Baker, in 2008
An ethnically Chinese Canadian man who was found not criminally responsible for beheading and cannibalising a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus has been granted his freedom.
Manitoba’s Criminal Code Review Board announced it had given Will Baker, formerly known as Vince Li, an absolute discharge, meaning he is longer subject to monitoring. Baker, a diagnosed schizophrenic, killed Tim McLean, a young carnival worker who was a complete stranger to Baker, in 2008. A year later he was found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
McLean’s mother, Carol de Delley, has been outspoken against granting Baker freedom, saying there would be no way to ensure he continued to take his medication. On Facebook, she simply said: “I have no words.”
Baker was initially kept in a secure wing of a psychiatric hospital but was given more freedom every year. He has been living on his own in a Winnipeg apartment since November, but was still subject to monitoring.
Baker’s doctor, Jeffrey Waldman, told the board this week he was confident Baker would remain on his medication and would continue to work with his treatment team. Waldman testified Baker knew the medication keeps his illness at bay.
The review board said it was “of the opinion that the weight of evidence does not substantiate that Mr Baker poses a significant threat to the safety of the public.”
Waldman said Baker planned to visit his native China if released but would live in Winnipeg for
the next two to three years. He is on the waiting list for a postsecondary training programme and planned to establish a career in the city. Baker emigrated to Canada from China in 2001 and became a Canadian citizen four years ago.
Baker sat next to the 22-year-old McLean on the bus after the young man smiled at him and asked how he was doing. Baker said he heard the voice of God telling him to kill the young carnival worker or “die immediately”.
He repeatedly stabbed McLean while the young man fought for his life. As passengers fled the bus, Baker continued stabbing and mutilating the body before he was arrested.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1999 that a review board must order an absolute discharge if a person doesn’t pose a significant threat to public safety.
The ruling added there must be clear evidence of a significant risk to the public for the review board to continue imposing conditions after a person is found not criminally responsible.
Baker’s defenders included Chris Summerville, executive director of the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, who has met and worked with him over the years.
“He is no longer a violent person,” Summerville said. “He absolutely understands that he has to [take his medication] and has a desire to live a responsible, moral life and never succumb to psychotic episodes and not to hurt anybody ever again.”