The Manitoba RCMP said two bodies have been found in the hunt for the B.C. murder suspects, believed to be those of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod. The autopsies are scheduled to occur in the coming days.
This announcement follows the discovery of items directly linked to Schmegelsky and McLeod last Friday, after an exhaustive search in northern Manitoba has paralyzed the town of Gillam.
The childhood friends from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island had evaded police for more than a week after they were identified as suspects in the shooting deaths of a 23-year-old Australian man and his 24-year-old girlfriend on a remote portion of a highway in northern B.C. last month.
The bodies of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese were discovered beside their van on the Alaska Highway on July 15. They were embarking on a three-week road trip through Canada to Alaska before they died.
Four days later, the body of 64-year-old Leonard Dyck, a professor at the University of British Columbia, was found at a highway pullout located approximately 470 kilometres southwest of where Fowler and Deese were killed. A burned-out camper truck belonging to Schmegelsky and McLeod was also discovered not far from Dyck’s body.
The young men were soon charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s death and a Canada-wide warrant was issued for their arrest.
Police initially considered Schmegelsky and McLeod missing persons before they were connected with the dead tourists.
Schmegelsky and McLeod led investigators on a chase that saw them spotted in Saskatchewan and in northern Manitoba where another burned-out vehicle connected to them was found in the small town of Gillam on July 24.
The discovery of the SUV outside of Gillam, located 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg, sparked an intense manhunt involving RCMP and local police forces from across the country, as well as armoured vehicles, drones, K9 units, ATVs, boats, and several aircraft, both military and civilian.
Officers spent more than a week setting up vehicle checkpoints, knocking on doors, and scouring the dense wilderness beyond the town.
The search also expanded to a small Indigenous community of York Landing, Man., located approximately 200 kilometres southwest of Gillam, following a tip from a local patrol group who said they saw the suspects rummaging through a garbage dump on Sunday.
However, following an exhaustive search of the area, RCMP said they were unable to substantiate the reported sighting and they returned to Gillam.
A day later, RCMP announced they were scaling down their search efforts in the region after scouring 11,000 square kilometres of wilderness and canvassing more than 500 homes in the town.
The Canadian Armed Forces said the RCMP told them their assistance was “no longer required” and their aircraft and crew returned to base.
RCMP said a number of “tactical resources and specialized assets” would remain in the Gillam area following the reduction in officers. They also encouraged the public to keep an eye out for the two men and submit any tips to their local police force.
The RCMP Manitoba dive team came up empty after a search of the Nelson River following the discovery of a boat and personal items belonging to two men earlier this week.