A Toronto man on Friday admitted murdering his mother and two of his brothers last year out of fear that he would be exposed as a liar to his fiancée only weeks before their wedding, according to multiple news outlets.
Brett Ryan, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder when he appeared in the Ontario Court of Justice in Scarborough, Canada, according to the CBC, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.
Ryan also reportedly pleaded guilty to attempted murder for trying to kill his third brother at the same time, though the other man escaped.
The first of Ryan’s victims was his 66-year-old mother, Susan, whom he strangled after he stabbed her with a crossbow bolt in her home on Aug. 25, 2016, according to these reports, which cite an agreed-upon statement of facts submitted to the court.
Next to die was his oldest brother, 42-year-old Christopher, whom he shot in the neck with a crossbow that he’d put in his mother’s garage days earlier, the CBC reports.
Ryan’s last fatal victim was his younger brother, Alexander, 29, whom he stabbed with a crossbow bolt as they fought following the other murders.
Ryan’s third brother was at the home at the time and called for help after seeing Ryan with Alexander’s body, according to the Globe and Mail. Though Ryan assaulted him, his third sibling escaped.
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Police found a blood-covered Ryan at the scene that afternoon, the Star reports.
“The guys in the garage are dead. Crossbow to the head,” he told authorities, according to the Globe and Mail. “It’s me. I’m admitting to everything.”
Following his plea Friday, Ryan was sentenced to three concurrent life sentences for the murders as well as a 10-year concurrent sentence for attempted murder. He will be eligible for parole in 25 years.
Messages left Monday with prosecutors and Ryan’s defense attorney were not returned.
‘The Release of Homicidal Rage’
The agreed-upon statement of facts details a chilling timeline of the grisly slayings — and how they trace back to a series of lies Ryan, an admitted bank robber, had told the woman he was set to wed.
Ryan had pleaded guilty in 2009 to eight bank robberies over eight months, according to the Globe and Mail. He was reportedly paroled in 2010 and later lost a job at an IT firm because of his criminal history.
While Ryan’s fiancée knew about his criminal past, according to media reports, he had lied to her about his education and work history, claiming he had a degree and a job, which he reportedly admitted to his mother five days before he killed her.
Ryan’s mom urged him to come clean to his bride-to-be and said she would financially support him for a short time if he did so, but Ryan feared the truth would end his romantic relationship and that his mom would expose him.
Days before he killed her, Ryan put a crossbow in her garage and arranged multiple devices at his own home that could create an electronic footprint — making it appear that he was sending emails and watching videos on his computer — to be used as an alibi. (This part of the scheme was never carried out, according to the CBC.)
Ryan then confronted his mother at her home last August, and she called her eldest son as their argument escalated, but she was killed before he got there.
Christopher, the second victim, arrived at the scene and was fatally shot in the neck; after which Ryan’s third victim, Alexander, arrived — triggering another confrontation and murder. Ryan was taken into custody soon after.
His plea on Friday provides answers to a triple-slaying that had rattled neighbors and friends, as well as Ryan’s fiancée, according to the Star and the CBC. The two were set to marry in September 2016.
One source told the Star soon after the murders that Ryan’s fiancée had broken “into a million pieces weeks before what would have been the happiest day of her life.”
“There is usually some kind of dispute going on — a poor, distant and strained relationship between the killer, his parents and his siblings,” one forensic psychiatrist told the paper, “hostility over the years and an event or events that results in an extreme emotional state and the release of homicidal rage.”