A community on Vancouver Island is in shock as two of their own remain caught up in Canada-wide manhunt stemming from three deaths in northern B.C.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were declared missing on July 19, after their burned truck was found near the body of an unidentified man just south of Dease Lake.
RCMP say they have don’t know who the man found dead near the teens’ burned out truck is. Say he’s about 5’8 and with a heavy build. Asked if it’s a homicide , RCMP say an investigation is “ongoing”@BlackPressMedia pic.twitter.com/OoaNvsSqma— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) July 22, 2019
On Tuesday, RCMP said the two were suspects in the suspicious death of the unidentified man and the double homicide of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese, two tourists found fatally shot near Liard Hot Springs on July 15.
They are considered armed and dangerous, RCMP said, and people are asked to not approach and to instead call 911 if they see them.
In Port Alberni, community reaction is mixed, with some asking for McLeod and Schmegelsky to get the benefit of the doubt.
“Time will tell, not speculating on anything,” wrote one man in a private Facebook group with 7,000 members.
Others were shocked that teens from a quiet B.C. town could be involved.
“This is so tragic! How do teenagers decide to kill anyone? What gives anyone the right to take lives. It’s incomprehensible. So now 4 lives completely destroyed and multiple people impacted,” wrote a woman.
In a statement to Black Press Media, Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said the situation was “devastating.”
“As a community we’re thinking of the victims and their families, and the families of the boys,” Minions said. “I can’t imagine what these local people must be going through right now.”
On the morning of July 15, the bodies of Lucas Fowler, 23, and Chynna Deese, 24 were found 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs. The couple were travelling northern B.C. in their van. Fowler, originally from Australia, had been travelling the world when he reportedly met Deese in Croatia in 2017.
Fowler’s father, a top cop in Australia, called the pair “inseparable” in a news conference earlier this week.
On July 19, a burned truck belonging to McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky was found 50 kilometres south of Dease Lake. The body of an unidentified man was found two kilometres away, in a highway pullout.
These photos of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and the vehicle they were driving were taken in Saskatchewan. Police will not provide any more information.@BlackPressMedia pic.twitter.com/YSr72b19px— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) July 23, 2019
Who are Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky?
Both teens grew up in Port Alberni, a city of about 17,000 in mid-Vancouver Island, and had recently graduated from high school. Both were said to have attended the Eighth Avenue Learning Centre, an alternate high school for teens who are not well suited to standard high school.
The two worked the overnight shift at a Walmart before reportedly heading to either Whitehorse or Alberta to look for work.
Residents did not recall the teens getting into trouble, or having brushes with the law.
Their social media profiles do not reveal much. A page for McLeod featured some of his art.
Schmegelsky’s profile showed comments from concerned friends and acquaintances.
“No matter how far you go into the wrong direction, there’s always a chance to turn ur life around (sic),” said one.
“If convicted, they’ll likely serve the maximum sentence. #WellDeserved,” said another.
Where are they now?
The boys were last spotted in the Gillam area of northern Manitoba, RCMP said.
Prior to that, security cameras had picked them up in northern Saskatchewan.
The duo are said to be driving a grey 2011 Toyota Rav 4.
Police say McLeod is about six-foot-four, about 169 lbs, with dark hair, facial hair and brown eyes.
Schmegelsky is described as six-foot-four, approximately 169 lbs with sandy hair.