Final tragic twist in Canada highway murders

 

The manhunt for the Canadian teen killers who murdered an Australian and his partner is over - but frustrated police concede they may never be able to fully explain why the pair went on a crime spree.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the central province of Manitoba said the bodies of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were discovered in dense bush near the shores of the Nelson River, not far from where they last week recovered items linked to the suspects.

The pair was wanted over the murders of Mr Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, as well as Canadian biology professor Leonard Dyck, 64, and had been on the run since late July when the victims' bodies were found in northern British Columbia.

"At this time, we believe these are the bodies of the two suspects wanted in connection with the homicides in British Columbia," RCMP spokeswoman Jane MacLatchy said.

"I'm confident it is them but to identify them officially and to be sure we have to go to autopsy."

But familes of the victims may never know why their loved ones were killed.

Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett told a media conference: "It's going to be extremely difficult for us to ascertain definitively what the motive was."

"Obviously we will not have the opportunity to speak with the suspects."

Injuries of Leonard Dyck will not be revealed out of respect for the family, he added.

"There is significant evidence linking the two events together," Mr Hackett said. Evidence also linked the two suspects to the two crime scenes, but he declined to give details.

Several mystery objects led to the discovery of the bodies of the fugitives.

In a massive breakthrough on Saturday, police recovered several items connected to the pair on the banks of the Nelson River, close to the isolated town of Gillam in northern Manitoba.

The unspecified objects were found some 9km from where their stolen grey Toyota RAV4 was abandoned in bushland close to a rail line on July 22.

The RCMP said the items led directly to the discovery of the boys' bodies, which were found around 10am Wednesday local time, 1km from the boat and 8km from their burned out Toyota car.

The cause of death in both cases is yet to be determined and would not be announced until after the autopsies were completed.

"I hope today's announcement can begin to bring some closure," Ms MacLatchy said.

"To the officers involved in the search, I commend you in your determination."

Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were found shot to death alongside their campervan on the Alaska Highway on July 15. Mr Dyck's body was found four days later on another highway - 2km from the suspects' burnt-out Dodge pick up truck.

The two teenagers were nowhere to be seen and soon sparked a major manhunt using helicopters, drones, boats and dogs that stretched across three provinces in the country's remote north.

 

The investigation was not over and would now focus on the timeline from when the crime spree began until the discovery of the bodies.

RCMP sent an Underwater Recovery Team to the area after a damaged aluminium row boat known locally as a "jon boat" was spotted during an aerial search on Friday.

But a dive over the weekend failed to find

any further trace of McLeod or Schmegelsky in the river.

McLeod and Schmegelsky as they appear in their wanted posted, issued on July 23 — some 24 hours after they were let go by a First Nations officer unaware of their murder suspect status. Picture: RCMP
McLeod and Schmegelsky as they appear in their wanted posted, issued on July 23 — some 24 hours after they were let go by a First Nations officer unaware of their murder suspect status. Picture: RCMP

Meanwhile, family of Schmegelsky have left a note for media begging them to go away.

"To all media reporters and camera people. We respect that you respect our privacy at this time, by keeping off our property and not ringing to door bell or banging on our door," the note read.

"You have become a nuicance (sic) to us and our neighbours.

The note left by the family of Bryer Schmegelsky.
The note left by the family of Bryer Schmegelsky.

Meanwhile, family of Schmegelsky have left a note for media begging them to go away.

"To all media reporters and camera people. We respect that you respect our privacy at this time, by keeping off our property and not ringing to door bell or banging on our door," the note read.

"You have become a nuicance (sic) to us and our neighbours.

"We will not be making any statement."

Ground, air and water searches for the pair were concentrated on the remote area, about 3,300km east of where the victims were murdered, because it was the last place Schmegelsky and McLeod were confirmed to have been seen alive.

Last week, the RCMP pulled its military-scale search operation out of the tiny river community of York Landing and returned to Gillam, to continue the manhunt.

The massive operation descended on York Landing after a sighting of Schmegelsky and McLeod rummaging for food at a landfill before fleeing into bushes after realising they'd been seen.

Despite dozens of officers, sniffer dogs and drones combing the remote towns - about 90km apart - there was no trace found of the pair and police said they were "unable to substantiate the tip".

"The heavy police presence in York Landing has been withdrawn and policing resources in the community will return to normal. The RCMP thanks the community for their patience and understanding," police said in a statement last Wednesday.

The last confirmed sighting of the suspects was in Split Lake on July 22. Their last known getaway car was found torched in Gillam later the same day. Picture: Supplied
The last confirmed sighting of the suspects was in Split Lake on July 22. Their last known getaway car was found torched in Gillam later the same day. Picture: Supplied

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.

Mr Fowler, 23 and Ms Deese, 24, were on the road trip of a lifetime when they were killed. Picture: Deese Family via AP
Mr Fowler, 23 and Ms Deese, 24, were on the road trip of a lifetime when they were killed. Picture: Deese Family via AP

 

Police search a former home in Gillam, northern Manitoba, which is littered with ghost towns and abandoned buildings. Picture: RCMP via AP
Police search a former home in Gillam, northern Manitoba, which is littered with ghost towns and abandoned buildings. Picture: RCMP via AP

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

It was a move that ultimately paid off but an outcome few had hoped for. The question as to why three innocent people were brutally killed now unlikely to ever to be answered.

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin

The RCMP calls for dashcam footage near Muncho Lake, a popular picnic spot off the Alaska Highway, in the time frame of the murders of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese. Picture: Twitter
The RCMP calls for dashcam footage near Muncho Lake, a popular picnic spot off the Alaska Highway, in the time frame of the murders of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese. Picture: Twitter
The Toyota Rav4 SUV was still smoking when it was found abandoned in dense bush near a rail line at a First Nation reserve 70km from Gillam. Picture: Supplied
The Toyota Rav4 SUV was still smoking when it was found abandoned in dense bush near a rail line at a First Nation reserve 70km from Gillam. Picture: Supplied
Australian Lucas Fowler and his girlfriend Chynna Deese, an American, were found murdered on the Alaska Highway on July 15. Picture: Facebook
Australian Lucas Fowler and his girlfriend Chynna Deese, an American, were found murdered on the Alaska Highway on July 15. Picture: Facebook
The SUV is believed to have been stolen from university lecturer Leonard Dyck (above), who was found murdered near the suspects’ burnt out car on July 19. Picture: Facebook
The SUV is believed to have been stolen from university lecturer Leonard Dyck (above), who was found murdered near the suspects’ burnt out car on July 19. Picture: Facebook
RCMP officers scour the dense and treacherous bushland of northern Manitoba on Wednesday, where Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod were last seen on July22. Picture: RCMP
RCMP officers scour the dense and treacherous bushland of northern Manitoba on Wednesday, where Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod were last seen on July22. Picture: RCMP
The never used, long abandoned bridge over the Nelson River at ghost town Port Nelson, whose population peaked at 1000 in the early 20th century. Picture: Twitter
The never used, long abandoned bridge over the Nelson River at ghost town Port Nelson, whose population peaked at 1000 in the early 20th century. Picture: Twitter
RCMP officers leave the river town of York Landing on Wednesday after failing to substantiate a sighting of the fugitives at a rubbish dump. Picture: RCMP
RCMP officers leave the river town of York Landing on Wednesday after failing to substantiate a sighting of the fugitives at a rubbish dump. Picture: RCMP