All ten victims of the grisly stabbing spree on an indigenous reservation in Canada have been identified, as sources report the suspect fled 200 miles south to say goodbye to his friends and family before killing himself.
The victims were Lana Head, 49, a mother of two; Christian Head, 54; Gregory Burns, 28; Gregory’s aunt Gloria Lydia Burns, 61, an addictions counsellor who was killed responding to an emergency stabbing call; Gloria’s sister-in-law Bonnie Burns, 48; Thomas Burns, 23; Carol Burns, 46; Earl Burns, a Canadian military veteran; Robert Sanderson, 49; and Wesley Patterson, 77.
A manhunt has been underway across the Saskatchewan province in central Canada for suspect Myles Sanderson, 30, who has been missing since the Sunday massacre also left 19 injured on the James Smith Cree Nation reservation. Sanderson’s brother Damien – his alleged accomplice in the massacre – was found dead Monday, of injuries cops say were likely not self-inflicted.
It remains unclear if he was killed by his on-the-loose brother.
Sources close to the investigation told The Daily Beast that in the hours after the killing spree Sanderson drove nearly 200 miles south of the reservation to the city of Regina where he had friends and family ‘to see [those Regina connections] for the last time.’
The source said Sanderson likely killed himself after making the trip, noting he would have been found if he was still at large.
‘If Myles Sanderson was alive and being harbored somewhere by someone, we’d know about it by now,’ the source told The Daily Beast.
The theory lines up with Sanderson’s last reported sighting at 11:45am on Sunday in Regina, where he was seen behind the wheel of the black Nissan Rogue he is believed to have fled in.
The information comes after officials confirmed they had not caught Sanderson following a report he was still on the James Smith reservation resulted in a shelter-in-place order and police raiding a house with guns drawn on Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday Sanderson’s brother and suspected accomplice in the murders, Damien Sanderson, was found dead on the reserve after suffering injuries not believed to be self-inflicted.
The sighting comes after Sanderson’s brother and suspected, Damien Sanderson, 31, was found dead on the reserve on Monday afternoon after suffering injuries not believed to be self-inflicted.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they were looking into whether Damien may have been killed by his brother.
‘It is an investigative avenue that we are following up on, but we can’t say that definitively at this point’ an RCMP spokesperson said.
Stabbing spree victims Lana Head, 49, (left) a mother of two daughters, and Christian Head, 54, (right)
Victims Lydia Gloria Burns, 61, (left) – an addictions counsellor who was killed responding to an emergency stabbing call – and her nephew Gregory Burns, 28, (right)
Stabbing victims Carol Burns, 46, (left) and Bonnie Burns, 48, (right). Both were killed on the James Smith Cree Nation reservation on Sunday
Victims of Sunday’s fatal stabbing massacre Thomas Burns, 23, (left) and Earl Burns (right), a Canadian military veteran
Stabbing massacre victims Wesley Patterson, 77, (left) and Robert Sanderson, 49 (right)
Damien Sanderson (left) has been found dead, Canadian police said on Monday. His brother Myles Sanderson (right) remains on the run, sought in connection with stabbings in Saskatchewan on Sunday
The attacks were among the deadliest in Canada’s modern history – and some of the victims appeared to have been targeted, while others were apparently random.
A mother of two, a 77-year-old widower, a first responder and a 14-year-old boy were the initial victims identified.
The siblings – who were described as armed and dangerous – are the chief suspects in attacks on 29 people in 13 different locations on the James Smith Cree Nation on Sunday afternoon.
Myles Sanderson has been wanted since May when he stopped going to court mandated visits with his parole officer.
He disappeared while out on parole on a five year sentence for assault, robbery, mischief and making threats, according to Regina police chief, Evan Bray.
He was charged with three counts of murder in the first degree, one count of attempted murder and one count of breaking and entering.
Canadian police confirmed they had not caught Myles Sanderson, 30, on Tuesday after a sighting report led them to raid a house on the James Smith Cree Nation reservation with their guns drawn
Cops raced up a road and closed in on a house on the James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan province in central Canada, where Myles Sanderson, 30, and his brother are suspected of carrying out the rampage that also injured 19 on Sunday
Damien Sanderson was previously charged with one count of murder in the first degree, one count of attempted murder and one count of breaking and entering. But police confirmed that he’s now been found dead.
‘We know. We are confident that someone out there knows the whereabouts of these two and has information that would be valuable to the police,’ said Bray. ‘I urge you to get in touch with your local police service.’
The brothers fled in a black Nissan Rogue SUV which was spotted 200 miles south of the indigenous reserve.
‘This is my brothers’ vehicle that they took when they entered our home this morning in James Smith Cree Nation,’ a woman posted on Facebook, according to SkyNews Canada.
‘We (can’t) care less about the vehicle but let these monsters be caught.’
Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer of the Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is seen on Monday afternoon announcing the death of Damien Sanderson
Annie Sanderson, who was close with one of the stabbing victims, Gloria Lydia Burns, 62, comforts her granddaughter
Darryl Burns holds a photo of his sister, Gloria Lydia Burns, 62, who was stabbed to death in Weldon, Saskatchewan during the Sunday killing spree
Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators pour over the scene on the James Smith Cree Nation reserve looking for clues after 10 people were stabbed to death and 19 others were wounded
Forensic investigators analyze the evidence at the crime scene after 10 people were fatally stabbed in Weldon, Saskatchewan
The brothers are believed to have stabbed the victims across 13 sites in the indigenous reserve and in the nearby village of Weldon, northeast of the city of Saskatoon.
A police alert and search expanded from Saskatchewan to include neighboring Manitoba and Alberta provinces – a vast region half the size of Europe.
The chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations suggested the stabbings could be drug-related, as it emerged that Myles was listed as ‘unlawfully at large’ by police in May.
The devastated community named Lana Head, the mother of two daughters, as one of the victims of the attack and said she died alongside her partner, who has not been identified.
Wes Petterson, a 77-year-old widower, was the second victim to be named by locals.
Following the frenzied stabbing, the armed suspects reportedly fled the scene in the Nissan which was since spotted in Regina, a city about 208 miles south of the communities where the stabbings occurred, police said.
Blackmore, the Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said some of the victims appear to have been targeted by the suspects – but others appear to have been attacked at random.
Investigators – including police, forensics, and coroners – gather in front of the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan
The armed suspects reportedly fled the scene in a black Nissan Rogue SUV (pictured) was spotted in Regina, a city about 208 miles south of the communities where the stabbings occurred, police said
The first stabbings were reported at 5.40am in James Smith Cree Nation, a sparsely populated indigenous community with a population of about 3,400 people largely engaged in farming, hunting and fishing.
Weldon is a village of some 200 people.
Within three hours of the stabbings, police issued a province-wide dangerous persons alert. By Sunday afternoon, similar alerts were also issued in Saskatchewan’s neighboring provinces Alberta and Manitoba.
The elected leaders of the three communities that make up the James Smith Cree Nation, including the Chakastaypasin Band and the Peter Chapman Band, declared a local state of emergency and opened up two emergency operations centers.
September 4, 5.40am: Police receive report of a stabbing in James Smith Cree Nation
7.12am: Police urge public to find shelter and issue Dangerous Persons Alert
7.57am: Police reveal names and pictures of two suspects
12.07pm: Suspected vehicle is spotted in Regina
3.45pm: Police announce 10 have been killed and 15 injured across 13 locations
September 5, 11.45am: Injuries rise to 19
3.50pm: Body of Damien Sanderson found at James Smith Cree Nation
September 6: Police converge with guns drawn on a home in the reservation after reports Myles was seen in the area. Authorities also issued a shelter-in-place order to surrounding community
Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, a group which represents 74 First Nations in the state of Saskatchewan, suggested the stabbings were drug-related.
‘This is the destruction we face when harmful illegal drugs invade our communities, and we demand all authorities to take direction from the Chiefs and Councils and their membership to create safer and healthier communities for our people,’ Cameron said.
The former partner of Lana Head, who was killed in the attack, also suggested the attack was linked to drugs and alcohol.
Michael Brett Burns, who has two daughters with Head, told the Aboriginal People’s Television Network: ‘It’s sick how jail time, drugs and alcohol can destroy many lives.
‘I’m hurt for all this loss.’
Burns earlier paid tribute to his ex-partner, writing on Facebook: ‘You will be missed dearly Lana. Thank you for beautiful daughters and granddaughters.’
A friend also paid tribute to Head, writing on Facebook: ‘I love you and say prayers for your children, grandchildren, your family. I am going to miss your sweet hello’s and messages. I will forever cherish your sweet demeanor and caring ways.’
Ruby Works said the second named victim, Wes Petterson, was like an uncle to her.
‘I collapsed and hit the ground. I’ve known him since I was just a little girl,’ she said, describing the moment she heard the news.
She said he loved his cats, was proud of his homemade Saskatoon berry jam and frequently helped out his neighbors.
‘He didn’t do anything. He didn’t deserve this. He was a good, kind hearted man,’ said Works.
Weldon resident Robert Rush described Petterson as a gentle, widowed man in his 70s. ‘He wouldn’t hurt a fly,’ he said.
Rush said Petterson’s adult grandson was in the basement at the time of the stabbing and phoned police.
Chakastaypasin Chief Calvin Sanderson – who is not related to the suspects – said everyone’s been affected by the tragic events.
‘They were our relatives, friends,’ Sanderson said of the victims. ‘It’s pretty horrific.’
Indigenous people account for less than five per cent of Canada’s population of about 38 million and suffer from higher levels of poverty, unemployment and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians.
Saskatchewan RCMP are seen at the site of the mass stabbing at James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, tweeted: ‘The attacks in Saskatchewan today are horrific and heartbreaking. I’m thinking of those who have lost a loved one and of those who were injured.
‘We are closely monitoring the situation, and urge everyone to follow updates from local authorities,’ he continued.
‘Thank you to all the brave first responders for their efforts on the ground.’
The deadliest gun rampage in Canadian history occurred in 2020 when a man disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires across the province of Nova Scotia, killing 22 people.
A man used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto in 2019. But mass killings are less common in Canada than in the United States.
Deadly mass stabbings are more rare than mass shootings but have happened around the world.
In 2014, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train station in China’s southwestern city of Kunming.
In 2016, a mass stabbing at a facility for the mentally disabled in Sagamihara, Japan, left 19 people dead.
A year later, three men killed eight people in a vehicle and stabbing attack at London Bridge.
A police forensics team investigates a crime scene following the horrific killing spree
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted : ‘The attacks in Saskatchewan today are horrific and heartbreaking. I’m thinking of those who have lost a loved one and of those who were injured’
The PM continued that they are closely monitoring the situation, and urge everyone to follow updates from local authorities
A police officer walks through the scene of a stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan
A police forensics team investigates a crime scene after multiple people were killed and injured in a stabbing spree in Weldon, Saskatchewan
Investigators gather in front of a table near the scene of stabbing in Weldon, Saskatchewan