SASKATOON—Police now believe one of the two suspects in the mass stabbings on the James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan killed all the victims, as well as the other suspect, who was his brother.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 4, nine people were stabbed to death on the James Smith Cree Nation, and another in the nearby village of Weldon. Soon after, the RCMP launched a search effort for suspects Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson. On Sept. 5, police announced Damien’s body had been found on the James Smith Cree Nation. Myles was arrested on Sept. 7, but the RCMP says he went into medical distress and died in hospital shortly after.
At a news conference on Oct. 6 in Regina, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said the evidence shows that Damien was killed by his brother Myles.
“After completing 250 interviews, processing over 670 exhibits, and reviewing and following up on over 100 911 calls, investigators have determined that Damien Sanderson was a victim of homicide by Myles Sanderson. Myles Sanderson committed all of the homicides alone,” she said. “This brings the total number of people killed by Myles Sanderson … to 11.”
However, Blackmore said there is evidence that Damien was involved in at least some of the planning that preceded the stabbing rampage by Myles.
“We are still investigating the extent of Damien’s involvement,” she said.
Blackmore would not say if Damien was killed before the other attacks, but said: “It seems there may have been something that changed as those incidents unfolded.”
The RCMP also filled in more details about what happened before the rampage. Blackmore said the RCMP got a call in the early morning of Sept. 4 telling the police force that Damien had stolen a vehicle.
She said two officers responded, and eventually found the stolen vehicle outside a home. She said the officers went inside, and asked if one of the men was Damien Sanderson but were told no. She said they later found out one of the men was Damien, but he had given a false name, adding that the officers didn’t have sufficient grounds at that point to ask for ID, and the photo of Damien in the RCMP database was from 2014.
She said the investigation also found Damien and Myles were selling drugs in the community.
“Myles and Damien Sanderson were actively selling drugs in the community on Sept. 4,” she said. “Both Myles and Damien were involved in at least three violent altercations involving other individuals in the James Smith Cree Nation.”
However, she said none of the violence was reported to police and that “the Saskatchewan RCMP had no information or indication that would suggest any violence was to occur.”
She added that a lot of investigative work remains to be done, including determining the motive for the brutal attacks.
“Unfortunately we may never have all of those answers,” she said.
The RCMP news conference comes on the same day that the Parole Board of Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada announced an investigation into the release of Myles Sanderson.
In a news release posted to the CSC and PBC websites, the agencies say: “To fully understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, Anne Kelly, Commissioner of SCS, and Jennifer Oades, Chairperson of PBC, have convened a joint National Board of Investigation into the statutory release, community supervision, and PBC decisions in the case of Myles Sanderson.”
In the days following the tragedy, the Parole Board of Canada released documents showing Myles Sanderson had 59 criminal convictions as an adult before his latest release, many of them for violence.
By May of this year, he was listed as unlawfully at large.
The investigation can make recommendations or corrective measures.