Murder suspect teens played sick game of ‘kill or be killed’
Two Canadian teens currently being hunted by police in connection to three roadside slayings, including the death of Australian tourist Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, are fans of a popular British survivalist game in which players are encouraged to kill and eat their victims.
Murder suspects Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, who both have open social media and gaming accounts, had links to a network of game players touting far-right views, support for Germany's Third Reich, and a passion for survivalist games.
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The group's Facebook page, "Illusive Gameing" was shut down after publicity about the pair began to surface this week.
The revelations came after Mr Schmegelsky's father told reporters his son was "huge into video games" and liked to "go into the woods and play war".
"So knowing that the both of them are totally into (survival games), if there was any threat, they would have done what they've actually trained themselves to do, and they would have camouflaged themselves in the woods," Alan Schmegelsky told a Canadian newspaper.
As the game progresses, players must build a shelter, find water and tools, and they're encouraged to kill animals and other players "for meat".
One reviewer called the title "one of the cruellest games on Steam," saying no other title had "ever indulged our lack of humanity quite like Rust".
Despite the violent content of the game, which features a wide array of weapons from bows and arrows to hammers and assault rifles, the title currently features an age rating of 12 years - the same given to Fortnite.
News of their passion for video games also came as pictures of Mr Schmegelsky dressed in Nazi paraphernalia emerged, reportedly taken from his Steam gaming account, and after the two were each charged with one count of second degree murder over the death of Leonard Dyck, whose body was found just 2km from a vehicle fire along Highway 37 in British Columbia. Nationwide warrants were issued for their arrests.
Canadian police are searching the pair after the fatal shootings of Fowler and Deese, who were found on a highway last week.
Hiding out in the Manitoban wilderness will not be pleasant for the fugitive duo, who will have to contend with bears, extreme weather and "voracious" sandflies, among other dangers.
Royal Canadian Mounties are intensifying their search for the pair, who are thought to be hiding in a densely forested area near the small town of Gillam, population 1300, some 800km north of the provincial capital of Winnipeg.
The town bills itself as a "wilderness paradise" with "thousands of untouched lakes and streams".
But Deputy Mayor John McDonald told TV news service CHEK those lakes were also currently home to millions of sandflies.
"If they are wandering around in the bush, they couldn't have picked a worse time because the sandflies came out three days ago and they're just voracious," he said.
"I'm quite sure they'll be more than happy to have someone find them."
Other threats come in the form of bears. In 2016 the Thompson Citizen reported that polar bears were sighted near Gillam for the first time, straying from the noted bear hub of Churchill, some 270 kilometres to the north.
The weather will play in the fugitives' favour now, with daytime maximums of 21 degrees, but the average temperature plunges to below freezing by October. Lows as bad as -30 are common in January.
Mayor Dwayne Forman described the town as "the end of the road", but the dense wilderness would offer many places for the fugitive pair to hide.
The search is focused on an area 70 kilometres northwest of the town, near the Fox Lake Cree Nation indigenous reserve.
There is little development in the area, although remote lodges and fly-in outposts attract hunters and fishers.
CHEK also spoke to Schmegelsky's father Alan, who described his son and Kam McLeod as "survivalists".
"(Bryer and Kam) would have gone into the woods and they know how to hide, because they've been doing this for the last two-and-a-half years," he said.