Mother of Tim McLean recalls his murder and use of not criminally responsible defence in court

Carol de Delley says she tried to change it after son’s killer found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

not criminally resonsible

Tim McLean was murdered on a Greyhound bus in 2008. He stabbed, beheaded and cannibalized. Photo: APTN file.

Warning, this story contains graphic details. 

When her son was decapitated, Carol de Delley thought it was the worst thing that could happen.

Then she learned his killer would be set free.

“That’s wrong and should never be,” de Delley said in a statement to APTN News. “Vince Li committed one of the most horrific murders in Canadian history and has faded back into society. My son is still dead.”

Vince Li, now known as Will Baker, pleaded not criminally responsible (NCR) due to a mental disorder for murdering Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in July 2008. He stabbed, beheaded and cannibalized McLean, a 22-year-old Métis man, while the bus travelled east on the Trans-Canada Highway towards Winnipeg.

Li was suffering from untreated schizophrenia at the time and, in 2009, was found NCR. He was automatically transferred to the care of the Manitoba Criminal Review Board, which placed him in a mental health facility for treatment.

The board released him in 2017 with an absolute discharge after concluding he no longer posed a significant threat to the public.

De Delley said it’s an “injustice” that still haunts her.

“I do not believe public safety is of ‘paramount’ concern, when mass murderers and serial killers can plead NCR,” she said.

The grieving mother tried her best to reform the law.

“I feel like I raised awareness that NCR even existed because I’d never heard of it before Timothy’s murder,” she said. “But I failed to make enough of a change in the Legislation around NOT CRIMINALLY RESPONSIBLE to actually protect anyone.”

not criminally responsible
‘Vince Li committed one of the most horrific murders in Canadian history and has faded back into society. My son is still dead,’ says Carol de Delley. Photo: Facebook

Now NCR is back in the spotlight after Jeremy Skibicki admitted at his trial this week he “unlawfully” killed four Indigenous women in the spring of 2022 in Winnipeg because he was mentally ill.

The prosecution disputes his defence and alleges Skibicki was a “purposeful” and “calculating” murderer who drugged and sexually assaulted the victims he met at homeless shelters before killing them, having sex with their bodies, and disposing of their remains in the garbage.

The partial remains of Rebecca Contois, 24, were recovered in the city’s Brady Road landfill while the remains of Marcedes Myran, 26, Morgan Harris, 39, and an unidentified woman in her mid-20s are believed to be in the Prairie Green landfill outside Winnipeg.

Prosecutors say they will present their own expert to refute the testimony of the defence’s witness who is travelling to Canada from the United Kingdom.

But de Delley warned the victims’ family members and friends to remain vigilant.

“The system focuses on the killer and how to best meet their needs,” she said in her statement to APTN. “With NCR cases, the review board must make a decision that is the least onerous on the patient.

“That’s messed up. NCR also means NO CRIMINAL RECORD.”

She said once a killer is fully released back into society he or she is no longer being monitored.

“That means the crazed killer turned patient could potentially be working with children, the elderly and vulnerable, because they have no criminal record,” she said. “Vince Li changed his name to Will Baker and may well have changed it again.

“We have no idea where he is, he is not required to report anywhere or to treat his lifelong illness.”

Skibicki’s trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

The Crown said it intends to present evidence showing a pattern of conduct. Skibicki has also been accused of violence against other women.

In 2019, one woman obtained a protection order against him, alleging he stalked her and repeatedly sexually assaulted her while she was sleeping.

When Winnipeg police refused to search a landfill for the women’s bodies citing the complexity of the search and safety hazards, it sparked vigils, rallies, round dances, marches, speeches, news conferences, protest camps and an Indigenous-led feasibility study.

It became another rallying cry for governments and organizations to address the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. And became a factor in the Manitoba election campaign in the fall of 2023.

Last month, the federal and Manitoba governments committed a combined $40 million for a search of the site.

Here is a timeline of the case:

March 15, 2022 — Police say an unidentified woman is killed on or around this date.

May 1, 2022 — Morgan Harris, a member of Long Plain First Nation living in Winnipeg, is last seen in the area of Main Street and Henry Avenue north of the city’s downtown. Police say the 39-year-old is killed on or around this date.

May 4, 2022 — Police say Marcedes Myran, 26, also of Long Plain First Nation and living in Winnipeg, is killed on or around this date.

May 14 or 15, 2022 — Police say they believe 24-year-old Rebecca Contois of O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation, also known as Crane River, is killed on or around these dates.

May 16, 2022 — Officers find the partial remains of Contois in a garbage bin near an apartment building. They secure the Brady Road Resource Management Facility, a city-run landfill south of the city, where they believe there could be more remains. Police say they believe the remains of Harris and Myran were transported to the privately operated Prairie Green landfill, north of Winnipeg, on this day.

May 18, 2022 — Skibicki is arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Contois. Officers execute a search warrant at his apartment in the same area where her remains were found.

May 19, 2022 — Police say remains found in the garbage bin near the building belong to Contois.

June 2, 2022 — Police begin searching the Brady landfill.

June 20, 2022 — Police say the remains of other victims are believed to be at the Prairie Green landfill.

June 21, 2022 — Police say remains found at the Brady landfill are of Contois.

Dec. 1, 2022 — Police charge Skibicki with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Harris, Myran and the unidentified woman. They say the unknown woman is believed to be Indigenous and in her mid-20s. Indigenous leaders later name her Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe or Buffalo Woman.

Dec. 2, 2022 — Skibicki appears in court and his lawyer, Leonard Tailleur, says Skibicki maintains his innocence. Police Chief Danny Smyth says the remains of Harris and Myran are believed to be at the Prairie Green landfill, but says no search is planned because too much time has passed.

Dec. 6, 2022 — Police defend their decision not to search the Prairie Green landfill. Relatives of Harris share their disappointment and anger on Parliament Hill and say they are prepared to search on their own.

Dec. 8, 2022 — Operations at the Prairie Green landfill stop as the Manitoba government and the City of Winnipeg decide how to proceed. First Nations leaders call for the police chief to resign.

Dec. 14, 2022 — Smyth apologizes in a meeting with First Nations leaders and the victims’ families for comments on not searching the landfill. Police are to be part of an Indigenous-led committee that will study the feasibility of a search.

May 12, 2023 — The study says a landfill search is feasible but could take up to three years and cost $184 million. Family members and Indigenous leaders say it must go ahead.

July 5, 2023 — Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government says searching the landfill is too risky.

July 6, 2023 — Protesters at a camp set up at the Brady Road landfill begin blocking access to the site and demand governments search the Prairie Green landfill.

July 14, 2023 — A judge grants a temporary injunction to end the blockade and says demonstrators can continue to protest but cannot block the road.

Aug. 4, 2023 — Relatives of Harris and Myran meet with federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree. They later lead a round dance at a rally calling for a search of the landfill. Other rallies take place across the country.

Aug. 9, 2023 — Manitoba’s NDP promises a search if it wins the upcoming provincial election, which it does in October.

Jan. 26, 2024 — Another study says a search could be done within one year and cost $90 million but searchers would face a health risk from asbestos.

March 8, 2024 — Family members of Harris and Myran and supporters rally outside the Manitoba legislature calling for a search.

March 22, 2024 — The federal and Manitoba governments say they will put up $20 million each to search the landfill.

May 2, 2024 — A judge rules Skibicki’s trial will be heard by a jury. The defence had argued jurors could be biased because of pretrial publicity.

May 6, 2024 — Lawyers for Skibicki say he admits to killing the four women but is not criminally responsible because of mental illness. The Crown says due to complexities with the defence the trial can proceed without the jury.

-With files by Brittany Hobson of The Canadian Press

Support is available for anyone affected by these reports and the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Immediate emotional assistance and crisis support are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national hotline at 1-844-413-6649.

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