JSCN killer Myles Sanderson camped out with stolen food during manhunt; RCMP previews inquest into his death

Michelle Berg/Saskatoon StarPhoenix. RCMP on Highway 11 after the arrest of Myles Sanderson north of Saskatoon on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.

Myles Sanderson camped out for days with stolen food and bedding after killing 11 people and injuring 17 others at James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon.

Julia Peterson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

MELFORT — As the coroner’s jury begins its deliberations on the 2022 mass killings in Saskatchewan, the province is preparing for a second inquest into the killer’s death.

Myles Sanderson, 32, fatally stabbed 11 people and injured 17 others at James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon, Sask. on the morning of Sept. 4.

He wasn’t caught until three days later, on Sept. 7, and died in police custody a short time later.

Immediately after his death, a source close to the investigation said police believed Sanderson took drugs before he was arrested and overdosed while in custody.

Under the Saskatchewan Coroners Act, the province is required to hold an inquest whenever a person dies in custody, unless the coroner is satisfied that the death was entirely due to natural causes and was not preventable.

On Monday, Sgt. Evan Anderson of the Saskatchewan RCMP major crimes unit gave an overview of what the public can expect from the upcoming inquest into Sanderson’s death, which is scheduled from Feb. 26 to March 1 in Saskatoon.

One of Sanderson’s last acts on James Smith Cree Nation on the morning of Sept. 4 was to steal a black 2016 Nissan Rogue SUV. This vehicle would later be identified in emergency alerts about the stabbings, and was caught on a security camera in Kinistino at 7:08 a.m., turning onto Highway 3 toward Weldon.

“Shortly after 7 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2022, Myles Sanderson murdered his last victim in Weldon,” Anderson said. “After committing this offence, Myles Sanderson left the community … his whereabouts unknown.”

This triggered a provincewide manhunt, as the RCMP attempted to catch him before he killed again. During the inquest into the killings, psychologist Matt Logan testified that Sanderson would likely have continued his violent attacks, given the opportunity.

“There was a mission — something was going to continue,” Logan said. “This was not the end of the assaults.”

On the afternoon of Sept. 7, Anderson said a woman called the RCMP to report a break-in in progress at her home near Wakaw, about an hour’s drive from Weldon.

Myles Sanderson was identified as the suspect; he had stolen the woman’s vehicle, a white 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche, but the RCMP were on his trail.

“Shortly after receiving the complaint, Myles Sanderson was located driving the Avalanche and the RCMP attempted to stop him,” Anderson said. “Myles Sanderson refused to stop, and a pursuit was initiated. This led to the RCMP safely running the Avalanche off the road and into a ditch along Highway 11, near Rosthern.”

Photos show the Avalanche, its airbags deployed, boxed in by RCMP vehicles just off the side of the highway.

Sanderson was the only person in the vehicle, and officers arrested him — but he would not live to stand trial. 

“Soon after his arrest, while still at that same location on Highway 11, Myles went into medical distress,” Anderson said. “Lifesaving efforts were immediately undertaken by police and medical personnel on scene, until paramedics arrived.”

Sanderson was taken by ambulance to Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital, where he died “a short time later.”

Two days after Sanderson’s arrest and death, the RCMP found the Nissan Rogue he had stolen from James Smith Cree Nation. Out of fuel, it had been driven into the bush and abandoned about five kilometres east of Crystal Springs — about half an hour from Wakaw.

Among the bevy of phone calls and tips reporting potential sightings of Sanderson across western Canada — more than 600 in total — Anderson said the RCMP had three reports placing him in the Wakaw/Crystal Springs area.

“In the days and weeks following Myles Sanderson’s apprehension … it was determined that Myles Sanderson arrived in the Crystal Springs area shortly after leaving Weldon on Sept. 4, 2022, and did not leave.”

Near the house where Sanderson eventually broke in and stole the Avalanche, the RCMP found an ad-hoc hideout in the bush, with food, drinks and bedding that had been taken from the house.

His fingerprints were found on empty cans and containers in the woods, and on the chest freezer in the house’s garage.

“The evidence suggests that Myles Sanderson had made a camp in the bush and stole food from a nearby residence,” Anderson said. “Investigators believe Myles Sanderson only had the clothes on his back and did not have any resources available to him, such as a phone or a vehicle, until he made the decision to steal the white Avalanche.”

Lawyer Robert Kennedy is scheduled to preside as coroner over the inquest into Sanderson’s death. The purpose of the inquest is to establish who died, when and where they died, and the cause and manner of death. The jury can also make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.