Just three weeks short of his wedding date, 35-year-old Brett Ryan, a man once known as the Fake Beard Bandit, has been charged with first-degree murder in a lurid crossbow attack that left three dead at a Scarborough bungalow.
Brett Anthony Ryan appeared in court on Friday charged with killing three people at a Scarborough bungalow. Clean-shaven with no visible injuries, he wore white overalls and maintained a sombre expression, a far cry from the tender images posted on his wedding website touting his forthcoming nuptials.
A cached version of the site shows Ancaster Mill, in Ancaster, Ont., as the venue for his Sept. 16 wedding and relates a poem that gives York St. and Queens Quay, along the shore of Lake Ontario, as the site where the couple first met.
The lakeside location is close to the upscale condo Mr. Ryan owns that was the site of a mass evacuation on Thursday. That evacuation capped off a series of strange developments in the triple homicide that began shortly before 1 p.m.
A neighbour of the Ryan family, who said he made the call to 911, described a harrowing scene that began with a knock on his door by a man covered in blood.
“I opened the door and this gentleman almost fell on me, so I sort of carried him half into the living room and he fell down on the floor,” the man said Friday.
“He said, ‘Call 911 … make sure the police come, make sure the police come.’” Police officers responding to a reported stabbing at 10 Lawndale Rd. came across the bodies of two men, and a woman with mortal injuries, as they approached the home. Each appeared to be the victim of a crossbow attack.
The identities of the deceased have been placed under a publication ban.
Officers arrested Mr. Ryan at the scene before taking him to hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.
With one crime scene stabilizing, another one across town was intensifying. Shortly after the slayings, at 2:30 p.m., police evacuated at least one floor of the condo building where Mr. Ryan lived based on a report of a suspicious package.
Police confirmed a link between the package and the Scarborough attack, but did not specify how they were connected.
Neighbours of the Ryan family said they were quiet and seemed indifferent to socializing.
A neighbour who requested anonymity recalls four adult sons living at the house and that one of them could often be seen performing martial-arts manoeuvres in the back yard wearing a black karate uniform. Another often wore a Toronto Transit Commission uniform. The accused, Brett, drove a pristine late-model pickup truck and wore work boots, but his exact employment wasn’t known.
The mysterious air around the Ryans only thickened on June 20, 2008, when a swarm of police cars surrounded the residence for several hours.
Only the next day did residents learn they’d been living next to the Fake Beard Bandit, the moniker given to a serial bank robber who was charged with stealing from 14 banks over the previous nine months.
According to court documents, he regularly donned medical bandages, spectacles, hats and a “false beard” while robbing banks throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
In January, 2009, he pleaded guilty to 16 of the original 29 robbery, weapons and disguise-related charges. A judge sentenced him to nearly four years in jail.
Mr. Ryan’s next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 2.