Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, from Port Alberni, British Columbia, have been found dead. Picture: ALBERTA RCMP
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, from Port Alberni, British Columbia, have been found dead. Picture: ALBERTA RCMP

Burning questions behind teen fugitive manhunt

THE largest manhunt in Canada's history is over but so many questions remain unanswered.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) located the bodies of suspected triple murderers Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, in dense bushland near the Nelson River in Manitoba, about 1km from where police located several of their belongings on Friday.

The teenagers were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia lecturer whose body was found July 19 along a highway in British Columbia.

They pair are suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, whose bodies were found July 15 along the Alaska Highway about 500km from where Mr Dyck was killed.

The discovery may bring some closure for the victims' families and return a sense of security to the communities, but the investigation is far from over. There are so many questions that are still baffling police and the wider community:

HOW DID THE MURDER SUSPECTS DIE?

Questions remain as to how the two teen fugitives met their end.

RCMP teams found their bodies in dense bushland, but have not provided a cause or approximate time of death.

It's believed the murder suspects contended with Gillam's harsh wilderness while hiding from authorities. Experts believed that if they didn't die from lack of food or dehydration, bears, wolves or even bugs would likely claim their lives.

"They eat you alive," Mr Arama, owner of the Ontario-based WSC Survival School said, referring to the relentless bloodsucking deer flies, mosquitoes, sand flies and other bugs.

"They won't stop biting until your eyes close and you can't see no more. "Or, if you get enough bites you can go anaphylaxis and then end up in a serious life-threatening reaction."

In any case, the discovery of their bodies is a far cry from how Schmegelsky's father, Alan, believed the two would meet their fate.

"They're going to go out in a blaze of glory. Trust me on this," he previously said.

 

ARE THERE OTHER VICTIMS?

It is possible there are more victims that haven't been found according to criminal psychologist Tim Watson-Munro.

Watson-Munro told News Corp Australia the teenagers had travelled such a long way it is extraordinary there are not more victims but "it is entirely possible there are and they haven't been found yet."

There are reports of two men missing near Logan's Lake in British Columbia.

Their vehicle was found abandoned and the two men have not been seen for days.

The police as yet don't believe the case is linked to the teenagers alleged rampage.

Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emergency Response Team searching on foot near Gillam, Manitoba, Canada. Picture: Angus Mordant for News Corp Australia
Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emergency Response Team searching on foot near Gillam, Manitoba, Canada. Picture: Angus Mordant for News Corp Australia

WHO WAS THE BEARDED MAN?

A witness claimed they saw a bearded man speaking with Fowler the day before he and Deese were murdered.

A sketch of the man as released as police revealed he was a person of interest.

The man who was seen talking to Lucas was described "as caucasian with darker skin and dark hair".

"He's shorter than Lucas who stood six foot three (190cm) and has a possible beard or glasses," said RCMP Sergeant Janelle Shoihet.

"He was driving an older model Jeep Cherokee with a black stripe on the hood and was believed to have been travelling southbound."

The sketch drew comparisons to a Texan fugitive, Derek Whisenand, who had crossed the border into Manitoba sometime around June 24. According to Manitoba RCMP, Whisenand was wanted for murder in Texas, may have had a gun and was considered dangerous.

But nothing news came of it.

 

A sketch of a man who the RCMP say interacted with Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese. His identity remains unknown. Picture: AP
A sketch of a man who the RCMP say interacted with Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese. His identity remains unknown. Picture: AP

 

WHAT LEAD TO THE BREAKTHROUGH?

Canadian authorities have not yet revealed the items they discovered that helped them locate the bodies of McLeod and Schmegelsky.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced the discovery of the mystery objects along the Nelson River last Friday, about 8km from where they left a burnt-out Toyota Rav4 on July 22.

It appeared to be a breakthrough moment in the manhunt. The RCMP said it was able to "directly link" the items to the teen fugitives, but would not reveal what they were to "ensure the integrity of the investigation".

"The items we found on the shoreline gave us an opportunity to pinpoint that search and therefore do a more detailed search of the area," RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatch said.

While the objects remain unknown, jet board operator Clint Sawchuk - who alerted authorities of the items - said he spotted what he thought was a sleeping bag along the shore.

 

Police have not revealed what items they found on the banks of the Nelson River that led to the discovery of the fugitives’ bodies. Picture: Supplied
Police have not revealed what items they found on the banks of the Nelson River that led to the discovery of the fugitives’ bodies. Picture: Supplied

 

WHAT MOTIVE DID THE KILLERS HAVE?

British Columbia assistant commissioner Kevin Hackett conceded it would be "extremely difficult" to find the motive to the murders and the teen's actions.

The parents of Schmegelsky and McLeod said the duo were good kids, whose worst trait was to play violent video games. They said there was no inkling anything was wrong before they left, supposedly to make some real money up in Northern Canadian territory.

Criminal psychologist Tim Watson-Munro believed the teenagers' story of looking for work was a ruse and they had planned the "thrill kill" spree all along.

He said they appeared to be "bad not mad, capable of forward planning and they were armed.

"Some people are vulnerable to violent video games and become desensitised to violence," said Watson-Munro.

"When that happens, they need more and more stimulation to get the same thrill.

"It is like an addiction to pornography; it escalates they started acting out … One bounces off the other, wouldn't it be fun to do this … then they think they can do anything and get away with it."

 

 

 

 

WHY DID POLICE TAKE SO LONG TO ISSUE A WARNING?

Among the biggest questions of the investigation is why police delayed the issue of an alert about McLeod and Schmegelsky.

It meant that an unwitting member of the public helped the pair after they bogged their Toyota Rav 4 in a muddy field.

Good Samaritan Tommy Ste-Croix said the teens had been stuck about 1.5 hours when he approached to help them on the morning of Sunday July 21 - two days after the bodies of Lucas and Chynna were discovered.

Two days later police issued their alert and Mr Ste-Croix realised with a shock how fortunate he had been.

Community police also stopped the teen murder suspects about 169km from Gillam for a routine alcohol check, but let them pass.

"We weren't aware of their status, of them being wanted," local representative Nathan Neckoway previously said.

"Apparently after they came to our community that's when they sent out that wanted (status)."

RCMP refused to comment on Neckoway's claims.

 

Murder victims Lucas Fowler and his girlfriend Chynna Deese. Picture: AAP
Murder victims Lucas Fowler and his girlfriend Chynna Deese. Picture: AAP

 

WERE THEY IN YORK LANDING?

A tip the teenagers were spotted in York Landing prompted police to refocus their shift from Gillam.

The York Landing tip included information that the two people sighted were wearing the same clothing - Schmegelsky in a camouflage jacket and McLeod in a blue T-shirt - that they were pictured in on CCTV footage from a hardware store in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan.

An exhaustive search of the area failed to locate the duo, childhood friends and former Walmart employees from Vancouver Island, who had either managed another miraculous escape or were never there in the first place.

The emergency response team and other resources that flooded the town were then sent back to Gillam.

 

 

 

DID THE FUGITIVES CALL FOR A CAB TO BIRD?

Gillam's only taxi driver, Amar Sahota, believes he talked to one of fugitives on the afternoon of Monday, July 22.

Mr Sahota told News Corp Australia he knows 95 per cent of the clients who call for a cab in the town of 500 where he has worked for 13 years.

"But this man called and he didn't use my name, he was a stranger, and he wanted a ride to (an indigenous settlement 30km north of Gillam called) Bird," Mr Sahota said.

"I told him I wouldn't because my small car can't go on those rough dirt roads, and he hung up on me. The next day when we heard about the boys being around here, I thought it was them. I thought I was very lucky because maybe I would have been one of their victims."

Mr Sahota reported the encounter to a police phone hotline, but they never got back to him.

Nobody asked to see his phone record and the number has long since faded from his call log because he gets dozens of calls a day.

It raises the question: was it the teens calling and if so, did they know someone in Bird?

 

Gillam’s only taxi driver, Amar Sahota, believes he talked to one of fugitives. Picture: Angus Mordant for News Corp Australia
Gillam’s only taxi driver, Amar Sahota, believes he talked to one of fugitives. Picture: Angus Mordant for News Corp Australia

 

 

WHO POSTED A CRIME SCENE PHOTO ONLINE?

Questions were also raised about photos of the scene where Lucas and Chynna were murdered that were posted on social media.

Police asked the picture be removed from a news website.

They were clearly taken before police arrived on the scene, but there has never been an explanation about whether they could have been taken by the killers and posted using a pseudonym.

 

The blue Chevy van driven by Lucas Fowler with a blown out window. Picture: Supplied.
The blue Chevy van driven by Lucas Fowler with a blown out window. Picture: Supplied.

 

University lecturer Leonard Dyck was killed by the teenagers. Picture: RCMP
University lecturer Leonard Dyck was killed by the teenagers. Picture: RCMP


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