The Canadian who stabbed a fellow bus passenger to death and then beheaded him made his first court appearance Friday on second degree murder charges. Police offered no motive for the savage attack.
Vince Weiguang Li, of Edmonton, Alberta, his face bruised, one hand bandaged and his legs shackled, shuffled into a courtroom for a procedural hearing in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, with his head bowed. He did not reply when the judge asked him if he was getting a lawyer, and only nodded slightly when asked whether he was exercising his right not to speak. He was not required to enter a plea.
Second-degree murder charges are generally filed when authorities do not believe the crime was premeditated.
The prosecutor asked for a psychiatric assessment, but the judge said he wanted to give Li a chance to meet with his lawyer about that. Li's next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Li, who worked as a carrier for the Edmonton Sun and other newspapers in the city, has no known criminal record.
Police have not confirmed the identity of Li's victim, but friends have said it was Tim McLean Jr., 22, of Winnipeg.
In an e-mail to CBC News, friend Jossie Kehler wrote that McLean was loved by everyone, had a bubbly personality and was a ladies' man.
"He has a lot of friends and they all are very upset he's gone, and they would like to say they miss him and he will always be in their hearts," she wrote.
"People say no one's perfect, but Tim, he was," she wrote. "He did nothing bad to anyone."
Hundreds of Facebook users flocked Friday to a tribute group titled R.I.P Tim McLean set up overnight to send their condolences to family and friends as well as express their shock at the grisly story that made international headlines.
"R.I.P Tim McLean, You are loved and you will be missed dearly!" the site description read.
Friends say McLean had taken a job with the Red River Exhibition and then went to work in Edmonton, but had decided to return home.
On McLean's MySpace page, under the name JoKAwiLd, he describes himself as a short, five-foot-five guy, weighing about 125 pounds.
Witnesses described the attacker as a hulking six-foot-tall man in sunglasses who appeared to weigh more than 200 pounds.
McLean's father, Tim McLean Sr., told CBC News on Thursday night that he was in the process of trying to get confirmation from the police that his son was, in fact, the victim.
He said he was also trying to reach his wife, who is on an Alaskan cruise until next week.
The father said his son had sent him a text message around 7:30 p.m. as the bus was leaving Brandon, the last leg of its journey, to ask if he could come home for the night. Tim McLean Jr. was returning to Winnipeg from Edmonton, where he had been working at an exhibition.
The father told his son that, of course, he could come home, and that was the last contact he had with him.
The RCMP would not confirm the reports of beheading, saying only that a stabbing took place around 8:30 p.m. CT on an eastbound Greyhound bus on the Trans-Canada Highway about 20 kilometres west of Portage la Prairie.
An autopsy was scheduled for Friday at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre, and police were waiting for the results before deciding, with input from the family, whether to make the victim's name public.
"The RCMP are mindful of the range of emotions being experienced by the family of the deceased over the loss of their loved one in such a horrific incident. Our thoughts are with them," the RCMP said in a statement.