crime

Crossbow Killer Murdered Family Because Mom Was Going to Expose Him to Fiancee

Brett Ryan was scared his mom was going to tell his fiancee he was broke.

by Manisha Krishnan
Jul 31 2017, 8:00pm

Brett Ryan killed his mom and two brothers. Photo via Facebook

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

Brett Ryan, the "fake beard bandit" bank robber turned "crossbow killer," has been sentenced to three concurrent life sentences in jail for murdering his mother and two brothers in Toronto, Canada, last summer.

On Friday, Ryan, 36, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing his brother, Christopher Ryan, 42, two counts of second-degree murder for killing his mom Susan, 66, and another brother, Alexander, 29, and the attempted murder of his brother Leigh, 38. The killings took place August 25, 2016.

According to an agreed statement of facts presented in court, Ryan said he was panicked because Susan had threatened to expose the fact that he was jobless to his fiancée, whom he was planning to wed in September. Ryan committed a string of bank robberies disguised as an elderly man a few years ago, which is how he got the "fake beard bandit" nickname. He ended up serving three years and nine months in jail after a 2009 guilty plea to those crimes.

The statement of facts said Ryan told his mom he'd been misleading his fiancée, by telling her he'd graduated from the University of Toronto and had a job when in fact, he was unemployed and hadn't completed his degree. He'd been fired from an IT firm in June once his criminal record was discovered. His mother told him to tell his fiancee the truth, and that if he did so, she would help him out financially.

"Brett Ryan was worried that if his fiancee discovered the web of lies, she'd call off the wedding," Justice John McMahon said Friday.

Ryan planted a crossbow in his mother's garage and on the day of the murders visited her Toronto home with the intention of convincing her to keep his secrets. Court documents say the resulting argument became heated, prompting Susan to call Christopher. When the pair went into the garage, Ryan stabbed his mother with a crossbow arrow and strangled her using a piece of nylon. When his oldest brother, Christopher, showed up, Ryan shot him in the back of the neck with the crossbow, killing him. After positioning the two bodies under a tarp in the garage, Ryan's brother Alexander arrived on the scene. The two brothers fought, and eventually, Ryan stabbed him to death with a crossbow arrow. When Leigh, Ryan's youngest brother who lived with Susan, came out and saw Ryan standing over Alexander, Ryan tried to kill him too, but he escaped to a neighbor's house and called 911.

To create an online footprint (and alibi), Ryan set up an iPhone, laptop, and iPad in his apartment, but he never ended up activating them.

In addition to the life sentences, Ryan will concurrently serve ten years for attempted murder.

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