A massive four-day manhunt came to an end north of Saskatoon Wednesday as RCMP took into custody Myles Sanderson, a suspect in a deadly mass stabbing rampage.
Sanderson was found near the town of Rosthern, Sask., RCMP said, after officers responded to a report of a stolen white Chevrolet Avalanche being driven by a man armed with a knife.
Some family members of the victims arrived at the scene and thanked RCMP, including Brian Burns, whose wife Bonnie Burns and son Gregory Burns were killed.
“Now we can start to heal. The healing begins today now,” he said.
Another of Burns’ sons was injured in the attack.
Sleep at night
“My boy survived the attack and hopefully can sleep at night now knowing he’s behind bars. He was having rough sleeps at night knowing he was still out there. Hopefully he can get some rest now.”
Sanderson is facing charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and break and enter after the attacks on James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon that left 10 victims dead and 18 injured.
Another suspect, Sanderson’s brother Damien, was found dead in a grassy area near one of the crime scenes on Monday.
RCMP released the full list of victims’ names Wednesday, while court records showed Myles Sanderson had previously assaulted at least two of the Labour Day weekend victims.
Among those killed was Earl Burns, 66. His wife Joyce Burns was stabbed Sunday and remained in hospital, a family spokesperson said. The couple is Sanderson’s former in-laws.
Court documents released Wednesday show Sanderson attacked Earl and Joyce Burns in Prince Albert on Jan. 15, 2015, when he was 24 years old. He was handed a sentence of two years less a day at a provincial jail.
The documents say he had repeatedly stabbed Earl Burns with a knife, and wounded Joyce Burns. The court records, from Melfort and Prince Albert courthouses, show Sanderson has a history of terrorizing residents of James Smith Cree Nation, with his jail sentences getting lengthier as he aged. Other offences include assaulting his former partner and mother of his children. In 2015, he was given a six-month sentence.
In Saskatoon earlier Wednesday, other family members paid tribute to Bonnie Burns.
At an emotional news conference, her brother Mark Arcand’s voice wavered as he said Burns died on her property while trying to protect her children.
“Right outside of her home, she was killed by senseless acts. She was protecting her son. She was protecting three little boys,” Arcand said.
“How can somebody do this to women and children? Words can’t express the pain that we’re feeling.”
Witnessed the attack
Some younger children inside the home witnessed the attack and had to walk by the victims afterward, Arcand added.
“I think they had to pass by their mom, and that innocent lady, and their brother laying outside, and they were taken away to family within the community.”
An online fundraiser for victims and their families was closed Tuesday after surpassing its $100,000 goal. A separate GoFundMe page was created Wednesday for the Burns family and raised $9,000 in its first three hours.
Arcand said coming to terms with why the attacks occurred will take time.
“We don’t know. We want to leave it at that,” he said. “We need the RCMP to do their work, we need to let the professionals do their work and we need to support that work.”