Following a massive manhunt in Canada, the second suspect accused of the mass stabbing spree in Saskatchewan died shortly after being taken into custody on Wednesday, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The victims of the Saskatchewan stabbing spree
Myles and his brother Damien Sanderson are accused of one of the bloodiest attacks in Canadian history. In and around an indigenous community in Saskatchewan, 10 people were stabbed to death on Sunday. The victims' ages ranged from 23 to 78 years old, according to the Saskatchewan Coroner's Service.
The victims were identified as:
- Thomas Burns, 23
- Carol Burns, 46
- Gregory Burns, 28
- Lydia Gloria Burns, 61
- Bonnie Burns, 48
- Earl Burns, 66
- Lana Head, 49
- Christian Head, 54
- Robert Sanderson, 49
- Wesley Petterson, 78
The stabbing attacks occurred at 13 different crime scenes in the James Smith Cree Nation and in the town of Weldon. Of the 10 killed, nine were from James Smith Cree Nation.
There were 18 people injured in the stabbing attack. There are still 10 victims who remain in the hospital – two patients are in critical condition and eight are in stable condition, the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed.
Police launch massive manhunt to locate the Sanderson brothers
Over 160 law enforcement officers launched a large manhunt to track down the brothers who fled the crime scene.
On Monday, Damien was found dead in a grassy area of James Smith Cree Nation. Police said that the 31-year-old's injuries did not appear to be self-inflicted.
When asked by reporters if Myles Sanderson was a suspect in his brother's death, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore responded: "It is an investigative avenue that we are following up on, but we can't say that definitively at this point."
On Wednesday afternoon, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police received a 911 call regarding a break-in.
"Sanderson was standing outside of a residence, northeast of Wakaw, and was armed with a knife. Sanderson stole a white Chevrolet Avalanche truck with Saskatchewan license plate 953-LPL and fled the property," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. "The homeowner was not injured."
At around 3:30 p.m., the Chevrolet Avalanche was racing over 90 mph before the truck was diverted off the highway and into a ditch, according to police.
"Police officers surrounded the vehicle and through verbal identification, confirm the identity of the driver to be Myles Sanderson," the statement from the RCMP read. "He was arrested by police and taken into custody. A knife was located inside the vehicle."
Police said "shortly" after his arrest, Sanderson "went into medical distress." He was transported to a hospital in Saskatoon, where he was pronounced dead.
Police found a knife in the stolen truck.
An independent, external investigation into the incident will be conducted by the Saskatoon Police Service and the Saskatchewan Incident Response Team.
Blackmore said on Wednesday night, "This evening our province is breathing a collective sigh of relief, as Myles Sanderson is no longer at large. I can confirm that he is no longer a threat and there is no risk to the public relating to this investigation."
A reporter asked Blackmore if Myles was responsible for the knife attacks. She replied, "Our witness accounts that we have received have indicated that Myles Sanderson was the person responsible." Blackmore added that an investigation is still hashing out the details. Thus far, investigators have conducted 120 interviews regarding the mass stabbing.
Police said it appeared that some of the victims were deliberately targeted, while others were attacked at random.
As far as Sanderson's motive, Blackmore stated, "His motivation may at this time and forever only be known to Myles."
"I hope that this brings them some closure in that they can rest easy tonight knowing that Myles Sanderson is no longer a threat to them," Blackmore said.
Myles Sanderson had a violent criminal record, but the parole board released him
Blackmore noted that Sanderson had a previous criminal history, "Myles' record dates back quite a number of years, and it includes both property and persons crimes."
The BBC reported, "Parole documents show Myles Sanderson has a decades-long criminal record, including 59 criminal convictions since he was 18, including assault, threats, and robbery."
Sanderson previously attempted to stab his in-laws to death.
PBS reported that court documents said Sanderson made a stabbing attack on his in-laws Earl Burns and Joyce Burns in 2015.
Earl Burns was one of the fatalities from Sunday's stabbing rampage.
Court files show Sanderson has a history of domestic abuse and was charged with assaulting his partner, Vanessa Burns, at least five times since 2011.
In 2018, Sanderson was convicted for attempting to stab two other men in the First Nation with a cheese knife, according to court records.
Myles Sanderson had been sentenced to more than four years in prison for crimes – but was released by the parole board.
In February, Sanderson was released by parole board member Betty Ann Pottruff after he was deemed not to be a risk to the public. The parole board said Sanderson would "not present an undue risk" and his early release would "contribute to the protection of society" by facilitating his rehabilitation, according to the BBC.
"Your criminal history is very concerning, including the use of violence and weapons related to your index offenses and your history of domestic violence which victimized family, including your children, and non-family," the parole board decision stated. "You are assessed as a moderate risk of violence and domestic violence by the psychologist. While your behavior in custody has not demonstrated significant concerns, there have been some minor incidents and it is concerning that the healing lodge also noted behavioral concerns. Then when released to the community, you were deceitful regarding your living arrangements and there was certainly reason for concern that you were at risk of returning to a cycle of domestic violence in the circumstances surrounding your suspension. You were in breach of your conditions, which included reporting relationships."
The psychologist's assessment was based on risk measurement tools and a “clinical impression.” The psychologist was in favor of day and full parole as long as Sanderson "maintained positive institutional behavior."
The National Post reported, "The psychologist’s report laid out important 'dynamic precipitating factors' that are associated with Sanderson's domestic violence, including anger, jealousy, trust issues, poor interpersonal problem-solving skills."
Sanderson’s community parole supervisor was against the statutory release. The parole supervisor noted that Sanderson lied to him about where he was living. His release was contingent on him living with a family member, maintaining sobriety, getting a job, and attending therapy.
Before their deaths, the Sanderson brothers had been charged with a total of four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, and two counts of breaking and entering a residence.
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