On July 23 RCMP officially named Kam McLeod, left, and Bryer Schmegelsky suspects in the homicide of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese, two tourists who were found shot south of Liard Hot Springs on the Alaska Highway the morning of July 15. (RCMP handout)

Motive will be ‘extremely difficult’ to determine in northern B.C. deaths, RCMP say

The bodies of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky have been found

With the discovery of the bodies, the public may never get all the answers in the case of two young men and three bodies in the northern part of the province, B.C. RCMP say.

Asst. Comm. Kevin Hackett told a news conference on Wednesday afternoon that investigators still have work to do, though details of fugitives Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky may remain unknown.

“We still need to ensure our investigative findings – whether it is statements, evidentiary timelines, physical or digital evidence – continue to confirm our investigative clearing that eliminates any other possibilities or suspects,” Hackett said at the force’s headquarters in Surrey.

“Until that is concluded, we will not close this file.”

READ MORE: Bodies of B.C. fugitives believed to have been found in Manitoba

Earlier on Wednesday, RCMP in Manitoba announced that two bodies found on the banks of the Nelson River likely belong to McLeod and Schmegelsky. The cause of death was not released. Autopsies are scheduled for Thursday in Winnipeg.

The bodies were discovered not far from where the suspects had dumped a stolen SUV on July 22, near the remote community of Gillam. An aluminum boat and other “significant evidence” was found at the Nelson River on Aug. 4, sparking a dive team to scour the area.

Police declined to speak on the details surrounding the death of UBC lecturer Leonard Dyck out of respect for his family. His body was found at a Highway 37 pullout, south of Dease Lake, on July 19.

The second-degree murder charge laid against McLeod and Schmegelsky in Dyck’s death will be removed, the BC Prosecution Service said.

The two young men from Port Alberni were also wanted in the double homicide of Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, two tourists who were found dead along the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs on July 15.

“The RCMP will continue to offer support to [their families], understanding that the traumatic losses they have gone through do not end with the death of these men, whom we believe to be our suspects,” Hackett said.

Police announced the men were linked to the three deaths on July 23.

When asked how they managed to elude the authorities for so long, Hackett pointed to the vastness of western Canada and said McLeod and Schmegelsky travelled more than 2,500 kilometres before they dropped off the grid.

“I don’t think I need to educate anyone on the geography of this country – it’s a huge country. The areas that they travelled were some of the most remote areas of the country, coupled by the fact they were travelling in areas that weren’t highly populated by communities or residences,” Hackett said.

“And frankly, when individuals are on the run or trying to elude police, [they] take measures to avoid contact with police and the public so they can maintain their freedom for as long as they possibly can.”

Hackett said it would be “extremely difficult” to determine a definitive motive for Schmegelsky’s and McLeod’s actions.

Investigators received more than 1,000 tips from the public in the course of the manhunt, – in one case prompting the deployment of the military.

Officials on the ground dealt with difficult terrain, dense forests and swampy brush in northern Manitoba. Search efforts crossed three provinces, and spread through some of the country’s most rural locations.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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