Bryan Schmegelsky firing an airsoft rifle. Picture: Nine Network/60 Minutes
Bryan Schmegelsky firing an airsoft rifle. Picture: Nine Network/60 Minutes

Grim autopsy to reveal how teen fugitives died

THE mystery of what sparked teenagers Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod to go on their killing spree and what led to their own deaths in wilderness in Canada's remote north could soon be revealed.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is expected to make an announcement over the coming hours.

The RCMP were tight-lipped about what the announcement will be, but autopsies are believed to have been completed on Schmegelsky and McLeod and an item of interest was found near their bodies.

Schmegelsky and McLeod, both 19 from Vancouver Island, are suspected of shooting dead Australian tourist Lucas Fowler, 23, and his North Carolina girlfriend, Chynna Deese, 24, after the couple's van broke down on a British Columbia highway on July 14.

Four days later on another BC highway Schmegelsky and McLeod were accused of murdering 64-year-old botanist Leonard Dyck, stealing his Toyota RAV4 and driving it 3000km east across northern Canada until dumping and burning the vehicle outside the small town of Gillam, Manitoba.

A massive manhunt was launched in the area.

It ended last Wednesday when the fugitives were found dead in thick scrub 1km from the banks of the Nelson River, near Gillam.

The RCMP has not revealed how Schmegelsky and McLeod died or what the item found in the vicinity was.

The announcement follows the airing on Sunday a 60 Minutes interview with the father of Bryer Schmegelsky, where he praised his son for evading Canadian police for two weeks.

Alan Schmegelsky also revealed the last text message he received from his son.

Disturbing footage has also emerged of Bryer practising shooting a replica gun in a forest gifted to him by his father.

Mr Schmegelsky refused to accept his 18-year-old son was a murderer.

"I'm not going to say my son is a murderer until I get some facts, OK?," Mr Schmegelsky told 60 Minutes.

"You want me to sit here and tell you that my son killed your co-citizen? I'm not doing it... I have just lost my son."

Police found the bodies of Bryer and Kam last Wednesday about a kilometre away from the Nelson River near Gillam, Manitoba. The discovery followed a 15-day manhunt that even involved the military. .

Bryer Schmegelsky's father Alan Schmegelsky has spoken to 60 Minutes. Picture: 60 Minutes
Bryer Schmegelsky's father Alan Schmegelsky has spoken to 60 Minutes. Picture: 60 Minutes

Several days earlier, local police stopped the teen fugitives for a routine alcohol check outside of Gillam. They ultimately let the pair go, claiming they were unaware of their wanted status.

Mr Schmegelsky praised them for avoiding arrest.

"I knew they were still alive. These boys are smart, these guys are intelligent. Kudos boys. Kudos," he said.

Mr Schmegelsky, who said his "heart sank" when police said Bryer and Kam were suspects in the killings, also revealed the final text message his son sent. It was the last time he heard from him.

"I'm off to Alberta," Mr Schmegelsky said his son messaged.

Canadian authorities said autopsies on the two bodies have been completed, but it will be up to Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in that province to reveal further information.

"Under the Fatality Inquiries Act, there's a few procedures that need to be carried out in order for us to … say with absolute certainty that these are the two people," RCMP spokesman Paul Manaigre said.

"So we're just kind of waiting on those formalities to be done and then that information will be shared."

Lucas Fowler's alleged killer Bryan Schmegelsky firing an airsoft rifle. Picture: Nine Network/60 Minutes
Lucas Fowler's alleged killer Bryan Schmegelsky firing an airsoft rifle. Picture: Nine Network/60 Minutes

 

DISTURBING FOOTAGE OF GUN PLAY EMERGES

A home video obtained by 60 Minutes shows Schmegelsky shooting an airsoft rifle in military clothing in the woods where he and fellow accused Kam McLeod grew up in Port Alberni.

His father, Alan Schmegelsky, said he gifted the $600 imitation weapon to his son a year earlier shortly before his 17th birthday.

"My son asked me if I would get him an airsoft rifle," Alan Schmegelsky told 60 Minutes.

"I bought him a toy gun so he could play with his friends."

Mr Schmegelsky said Bryer spent too much time playing violent computer games so he gave him the airsoft rifle as a distraction.

"It was getting him out to the woods with his buddies, it was getting him outside," Mr Schmegelsky told 60 Minutes.

Alan Schmegelsky says he would never give his son a gun that would kill people. Picture: Nine Network/60 Minutes
Alan Schmegelsky says he would never give his son a gun that would kill people. Picture: Nine Network/60 Minutes

"I never gave him a real gun. I never gave him a gun that would kill someone."

Airsoft guns are realistic replica firearms that shoot plastic pellets via compressed air or electric/spring-driven pistons. They are mainly used for recreation in sport similar to paintball but are banned in Australia.

 

Alan Schmegelsky and son Bryer as a child. Picture: Supplied
Alan Schmegelsky and son Bryer as a child. Picture: Supplied

According to the program, the Canadian police and military use similar weapons for training. The airsoft rifle is one of the closest things on sale to a realistic machine gun.

Lucas Fowler (Right) and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, who were found dead on the Alaska Highway in British Columbia. Picture: AAP
Lucas Fowler (Right) and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, who were found dead on the Alaska Highway in British Columbia. Picture: AAP

Alan Schmegelsky wrote a 132-page book titled Red Flagged, that he sent to journalists, in which he details his troubled life including mental health issues, harassment convictions and losing custody of his son in 2005 when his then-wife left him.

The grieving father issued an apology to the families of his son's victims but said he couldn't call his son a murderer "until I get some facts".

"When someone in your family dies, I know that f---ing pain," he said.

"I have just lost my son, I know exactly how you feel."

Asked how he felt that his only child would be remembered as a killer, he said: "There's no glory in that. I wanted my son to be someone amazing."

CHYNNA'S SISTER: KILLER'S DAD IS 'PLAYING THE VICTIM

Chynna Deese's sister, Kennedy Deese, told News Corp Australia that Alan Schmegelsky's apology is hollow.

"The proper public response would have been a genuine apology," she said.

"He is trying to relate to us, when he played a part in the cause of our pain. We had no doing in his.

"His sorrow is for himself and not sincerely for us," she added.

"We are not cut from the same cloth, as he has played the victim throughout his life and won't acknowledge his hand in his child's upbringing and ultimate demise.

Kennedy Deese and sister Chynna Deese were close. Picture: Facebook
Kennedy Deese and sister Chynna Deese were close. Picture: Facebook

"Short of his son, that he barely knew, confessing to him personally he would have doubt (that he was responsible for the murders)," she said.

Ms Deese said that Chynna did not let life's obstacles hold her back and was the first person in her immediate family to get her university degree.

"Having a dynamic upbringing and obstacles in life is not exclusive to anyone," Ms Deese said.

Kennedy Deese and Chynna Deese. Picture: Facebook
Kennedy Deese and Chynna Deese. Picture: Facebook

"There is no white flag of surrender for my family. We are not defeated by divorce, mental health, violence, poverty and socio-economic constraints, domestic disputes, alcohol or drugs, social media and bullying, feelings of loneliness, or disparities. We have the courage to ask for and offer help. We are strong, and stand strong together right now in the face of all of these adversities that have come upon us.

Australian Lucas Fowler hugs his American partner Chynna Deese in the last recorded moment before their deaths. Picture: AAP
Australian Lucas Fowler hugs his American partner Chynna Deese in the last recorded moment before their deaths. Picture: AAP

"We never play the victim of a broken system. There is no excuse for staying broken and refusing to heal. Whether or not these fugitives were captured alive or recovered dead would have made no difference. No amount of confession will validate or solidify an understanding of the events that led to the unprovoked murder of my sister. It's unfortunate the fugitives lives ended on their terms. There was a one in a million chance that such tragedy would befall upon my family, but Chynna was a once in a lifetime soul."

Ms Deese said despite Mr Schmegelsky's public comments "we still forgive you and have mercy".