Bus Maniac Vince Li "Not All There" says Ex-Boss. "Li spoke Mandarin"
Greyhound Bus Beheader Vince Li may have shown clues to mental state, reveals Li's ex-boss, also called Vincent. Mr. Augert tells WINNIPEG FREE POSTof how he caught Li in a trance one day and how Li gambled his CA$800 monthly salary on card games.
It has been revealed that Li spoke Mandarin, the upper class language of China, with Cantonese being the popular unofficial language.
His employer, Vincent Augert, told the Free Press on Thursday how Li attracted attention at a recent company picnic with erratic behaviour that the boss now thinks may have been a disturbing sign of things to come.
Li, 40, was one of about 250 newspaper carries who showed up for the annual summer thank-you event on June 29 -- just a month before he was accused of killing sleeping passenger Tim McLean.
Augert said he caught Li standing alone near a newspaper vending machine that was being used as a target for a children's game that day.
Li was hunched over, a blank look on his face, tilting his head and staring into the empty machine.
"It was very strange. He was looking at it the way you'd expect a three-year-old would do," Augert recalled.
"I went up to him and said 'Vince, it's just a newspaper vending machine. You know, you put money in it and get papers'."
Li continued to display a childlike wonderment. Augert moved on, greeting others at the party, while Li quietly slipped away and left shortly after.
Was it a sign of a serious mental illness, which some who knew Li have suggested he suffered from?
Augert said the incident was the first time he started wondering about Li's mindset. Until then, he'd been a model employee known for being efficient, well-dressed and able to juggle multiple paper routes without confusion.
The two men would often meet for coffee at McDonald's -- Li's choice -- where he would always order a small coffee, black. Augert would offer to buy him food but Li always declined.
"He was a good guy, I respected him, he respected me," said Augert.
He spoke with Li's wife, Anna, by telephone last Tuesday and Thursday after the man failed to show up for work during the week. Anna seemed confused by what was happening and made no mention during their last conversation about the tragedy that had unfolded the night before.
She just said Li had an emergency in Winnipeg but that she hadn't heard from him. Augert said he would drop Li's July paycheque off at their downtown high-rise apartment.
That cheque is now in the hands of police, who recently interviewed Augert about his involvement with Li.
"They're kinda stumped, to tell you the truth, as to why he would do that," he said.
It's been well documented that Li was suffering marital problems, which some former acquaintances believe are connected to his refusal to get help for mental problems that may include paranoid schizophrenia. Li left his wife in Winnipeg about two years ago and bolted for Edmonton. She recently followed him and they'd been living together.
Now there is growing speculation that Li may have been suffering financial problems. He reportedly sold a laptop computer to a western Manitoba teen last week for $60 in an attempt to get money for bus fare.
Several patrons of an Edmonton casino said Wednesday night that Li was often seen gambling at the establishment -- usually playing card games. Augert said Li would have only been making about $800 per month -- before taxes -- but isn't surprised to hear he may have been gambling some of it away.