The murder of Reena Virk

Reena Virk (March 10, 1983 – November 14, 1997)

Reena Virk was a fourteen year old teen from Saanich, British Columbia. She would have been turning fifteen on March 10, 1983 but sadly, she never made it.

Reena was originally from India and transferred to Canada as a child. Her immediate family was described as “a minority within a minority,” as they were of the Jehovah’s Witness religion in the local South Asian community of 3,000 which was predominantly Sikh.

She always had a hard time in school, constantly getting bullied due to her accent and looks and because she was ”different,”

On the night of Friday November 14, 1997, Reena was invited to a “party” by her friend near the Craigflower Bridge, a popular hangout spot, west of the city of Victoria, British Columbia. She heard rumors that her bullies were going to go there and ‘beat her up’ but that didn’t stop her from continuing her life. At first everything was fine, Reena was enjoying herself and the group were said to be drinking and smoking. But then, the “Shoreline six” arrived, a group of girls known to bully Reena. They swarmed the teen.

Photo of Craigflower Bridge

(NOTE: The six female perpetrators are referred to in court documents as N.C., N.P., M.G.P., C.A.K., G.O., and K.M.E. N.C. is known to be Nicole Cook and M.G.P is known to be Missy Pleese, though her middle name is still unknown. Both have admitted involvement. Kelly Ellard, the ring-leader, was referred to in some documents as K.M.E. prior to her identification.)

Witnesses who were at the Bridge that night would later say that one of the Shoreline bullies stubbed out cigarettes on Reena’s forehead, while the others stood by and watched, some even laughing.

The ringleader was a teen named Kelly Ellard, a girl who had strongly disliked Reena for reasons unknown.

Reena was then taunted, repeatedly hit, punched and kicked. She was visibly upset and scared but got no sympathy from her attackers who put out several more cigarettes threw-out her body and then yanked her hair and attempted to light it on fire.

This first beating ended when one of the girls stepped up and told the others to stop. This was the only attempt made by all that were there that night, to stop the attack.

Reena attempted to walk away from the group, but was followed by two Kelly Ellard, William Glowatski and an accomplice.

Photo of Kelly Ellard

Warren Glowatski (16)

Ellard Glowatski’s accomplice

The pair dragged Reena to the other side of the bridge, no longer in view of the others. They forced her to remove her shoes and jacket. At this point Reena was sobbing, begging them to stop as she layed on the ground shivering. They ignored her pleas and started punching and kicking her as she tried to shield herself.

Glowatski had no problems with Reena but he decided to join in, kicking Reena twice in the head.

Sometime during the beating, Ellard smashed Reena’s face onto a tree, knocking her unconscious. With the help of Glowatski, Ellard dragged Reena’s body near the water. At this point she was not unconscious and was begging her attackers to stop. She was ignored.

Ellard forced Reena’s head under water at the George Waterway. She was holding Reena’s head down by her foot. Glowatski stood by, watching. Reena struggled, desperately trying to save her own life. Reena’s struggle became weaker until finally she stopped moving.

She was dead.

Despite an alleged pact amongst the people involved to not “rat each other out”, by the following Monday rumors of the alleged murder spread throughout Shoreline Secondary School, where Virk was a student. Several uninvolved students and teachers heard the rumors, but no one came forward to report it to the police. The rumors were confirmed eight days later, on November 22, 1997, when police using a helicopter found Reena’s partially clothed body washed ashore at the George Waterway.

The coroner completed the autopsy and ruled her death was by drowning. However, it was later revealed that she had sustained significant injury, and that the head injuries were severe enough to have killed her if she had not been drowned.

Ellard was sentenced to life in prison after three trails. She still maintains her innocence and shows no sympathy for the crime committed.

Photo of Ellard

Glowatski was sentenced to life in prison but because he was a minor at the time, he had a chance of parole. Reena’s parents didn’t contest his 2004 court hearing, claiming they’ve forgiven him because he showed remorse and owned up to his actions. He was denied however.

Manjit and Suman Virk, the parents of Reena Virk, were devastated with their daughters murder  and at first, they harbored a deep hatred for her attackers. A time when Manjit Virk would have liked nothing more than to wring the neck of Warren Glowatski, one of two teenagers convicted of murdering his daughter, Reena, “as if he were a chicken.”

Photo of Manjit and Suman Virk

But in the fall of 2005, when the two came face to face in a semicircle of chairs in the basement of a church, something very different happened.

“It was the most unusual experience I had encountered in my life,” the Victoria father later recounted in his book, Reena: A Father’s Story.

“My daughter’s killer was shaking hands with me.”

This remarkable act of reconciliation is often cited as an example of the potential of restorative justice – the concept that true healing after a crime doesn’t necessarily come from harsher punishments but rather from the coming together of criminal and victim, giving them a chance to understand one another and work to repair the harm done.

Both of the Virks also spoke at the hearing, telling the panel that healing cannot begin until an offender owns up to their actions.

Suman Virk said that Glowatski’s statement on Wednesday is “huge,” and was tremendously helpful to the couple.

The Virks also said they think the young man is on the right path, and that they supported him getting unescorted absences as he continues to serve his life sentence.

The panel members agreed, noting Glowatski’s positive record while in prison. His next step will be to apply for full day parole.

At the end of the hearing, Glowatski thanked the Virks, giving each of them a hug.

Years after the murder, on the other side of Canada, students had participated in a play titled ”The Holding Room” which was based on Reena Virk’s murder. An online user who was a student at the high-school wrote on a forum:

2 years ago, the drama program at my school wrote and performed a play called The Holding Room based on the murder of Reena Virk. It was originally intended as a competition piece for a school theatre competition but it ended up attracting a lot of attention and resulted in Reena’s parents coming from the other side of the country to see it. Even though I don’t really act anymore, this entire show experience was one of the best of my life.

The Greyhound Bus Beheading

Photo’s above/below show Tim McLean, a young man brutally murdered while resting on a Greyhound bus on his way home from work

EDMONTON, CANADA — Tim McLean, Jr, born October 3, 1985 was a 22-year-old Canadian carnival worker who lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba located in Canada.  Due to his job, the young man had to travel and take the Greyhound bus to transport back home.

Those who knew Tim had nothing but great things to say about him, according to a friend,  he was a laid-back person with a great personality that could make even the saddest person smile. The type of guy who was respectful to everyone and never got into trouble.

On July 30, 2008 Tim boarded a greyhound bus and was on his way to Winnipeg after working all day at the carnival in Edmonton. He had sent his father a quick text-message asking him if he could come home for the night. His father messaged him back telling him of course he could.

That was the last contact the two would ever have.

The bus was pretty packed and loud so the young man decided to take out his headphones and listen to some music and relax, probably tired from a long day of work. After putting his head-phones on he laid his head back on the seat and closed his eyes, minding his own business and eventually nodding off.

Unfortunately, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Vince Weiguang Li, 40, of Edmondton was also on the Greyhound that same night.

Vince Weiguang Li, 40, in a photo taken after the greyhound incident. He is being led by officers

Tim McLean was attacked randomly with a butcher knife

Li was initially sitting by himself but for some reason he suddenly moved from his seat and sat in the empty one next to Tim, who was still sleeping with his head leaned back. As the bus was driving on the Trans Canada Highway, about 18 miles west of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Tim minding his business, still resting when all of a sudden, with no rhyme or reason, Li took out a butcher’s knife (shown above) an within seconds, he stabbed him in his throat. Garnet Caton, a witness on the bus that night, said he heard a “blood curling scream” and turned around to see Li repeatedly stabbing Tim.

Passengers on the bus were shocked, screaming in horror as Li, 40, continued to stab the young man who at this point awoke to his violent death. Li continued to stab him between 40 to 60 times. The passengers were scrambling to get out of the bus which was stopped on the TC-Highway. It all happened within moments and amid all the chaos, some of the bus-goers still didn’t understand what was going on, but it soon sank in and the horror-stricken passengers by this point, were outside of the bus.  Some kept running, others puked, all were shocked at the brutality of the crime.

The bus driver, a passenger and a driver of a truck who had pulled over moments earlier, trapped Li inside the bus until the police came.

During this time, Li had already decapitated Tim. He then slowly walked up to the front of the bus, holding up the young man’s head in an attempt to show everyone outside the bus what he had done. He then waved the head at the shocked audience. At this point he was already in the front of the bus and stared coldly at the three men blocking the doorway, even slashing the butcher knife at them, but thankfully missing. But that didn’t stop the brave men from keeping him locked in the bus.

Police arrived after what felt like hours. A stand-off ensued for several hours but eventually, officer’s were able to contain and put the handcuffs on him.

Officers and their vehicles surround the Greyhound bus during the stand-off

Authorities at the crime scene after the horrific murder

Tim McLean and Vince Li did not know each other. The random attack appeared to be unprovoked. Police later found the ears belonging to the victim in the pockets of Li who is also believed to have consumed parts of his victim.

The Greyhound bus had made its last stop in Brandon, Manitoba on a long journey that originated in Edmonton, Alberta and headed for Winnipeg. The attack occurred approximately 12 miles west of Portage La Prairie, on a desolate plains stretch of the Trans Canada Highway. Men, women and children who witnessed the attack were in shock, crying, some becoming physically ill as they waited by the roadside for several hours while police tried to get Li to exit the bus. He was finally apprehended at 1:28 am after Li tried to break out of a bus window.

Canada.com:
“He didn’t do anything to provoke the guy. The guy just took a knife out and stabbed him, started stabbing him like crazy and cut his head off,” said Garnet Caton, 26, a passenger on the Edmonton to Winnipeg bus on the night of 07/30/08

BBC:
“He calmly walks up to the front [of the bus] with the head in his hand and the knife and just calmly stares at us and drops the head right in front of us,” Mr Caton said.
“There was no rage in him… It was just like he was a robot or something,” he added.

The attack appeared to be unprovoked and it is thought the killer did not know his victim.

The passengers, many of whom were badly shaken by what they witnessed, were taken to a hotel in Brandon, Manitoba, and were given crisis counselling.

Canton also indicated that right before the attack, Li had just changed seats to sit next to his victim. Tim McLean, who had boarded the bus in Edmonton, was a summer carnival worker for the past three years at Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition.

On Friday, a bruised and bandaged Li appeared in court in Portage La Prairie, where he was charged with second degree murder. Li said few words and nodded his head when Judge Rocky Pollack asked him if he was exercising his right not to speak. Pollack ordered a psychological evaluation of Li pending Li having the opportunity to speak to an attorney. Li worked for a MacDonald’s in Edmonton as well as delivering newspapers for a distribution firm. His delivery employer, Vincent Augert said,

“I believe he was having some marital problems.” When he met with Li to hire him back as a newspaper distributor, he said, “you could almost read between the lines” from the way Li was talking “that there was something not right there.”

Just as the bus was leaving Brandon, McLean sent a text message to his father, asking if he could come home for a night, Tim McLean, Sr., told CBS news. That was his last communication with his son.

Friends of McLean bonded together to grieve for a man described as a “sweet man,” a “ladies man,” a “bright and bubbly guy who was always out for fun.” One friend, who traveled with him had nicknamed McLean “Tiny Tim.”

I can’t imagine the terror that these passengers went through, having to witness this horrific event. Please leave a condolence message for the family of Tim McLean, here, whose bright life ended so tragically.