After days of searching in abandoned buildings and through thick bush and swampy terrain in northern Manitoba, police officials acknowledged Friday that a pair of murder suspects from B.C. may have fled the region.It was possible, the RCMP said, that someone may have “inadvertently” helped suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky leave the Gillam, Man., area and is now afraid to come forward.“There have been no confirmed sightings outside of the Gillam area, however we remain open to the possibility,” RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine told reporters.“Our plea today is that if anyone in and around those communities may have inadvertently helped them get out of the community … to just please come forward.”Investigators still plan to spend the next 72 hours canvassing door-to-door in Gillam and nearby Fox Lake Cree Nation in the hopes of generating new information, Courchaine said. Police were also reviewing more than 120 tips, she said. McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, are suspects in the double homicide of a visiting foreign couple, Lucas Fowler, of Australia, and Chynna Deese of the U.S. The couple’s bodies were found near their van earlier this month off the Alaska Highway, about 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs, B.C.The young men have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, 64, a lecturer at the University of British Columbia. His body was found on a Highway 37 turnout south of Dease Lake, B.C., about 470 kilometres west of the first crime scene.The suspects’ burned-out Dodge pickup truck was found about two kilometres from Dyck’s body.Investigators tracked the suspects first to northern Saskatchewan and then to northern Manitoba, where a burned-out Toyota Rav4 they had allegedly stolen was found this week.
RCMP search for fugitive B.C. teens Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky near Gillam, Manitoba. in this photo posted to Twitter on July 26, 2019.
On Friday, RCMP released surveillance footage from July 21 — when the pair visited a co-op store in Meadowlake, Sask. — in the hopes of generating new leads. They were last seen in Gillam on July 22.“It is critical that all Canadians remain vigilant for Kam Mcleod and Bryer Schmegelsky,” the RCMP said, adding that it’s possible they may have altered their appearance.On Friday evening, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a tweet that the military has also been called in to give the RCMP air support in the search.As the national manhunt continued, the suspects’ respective families remained hunkered down in and around their hometown of Port Alberni, B.C.The British Daily Mail tabloid newspaper published a letter purportedly from Schmegelsky’s mother, Deborah Sweeney, in which she described her son as a “careing, loveing (sic) boy, that would never hurt anyone. He grew up in a loveing (sic) home. WE miss, and love him dearly. WE want both boys to come home safe.”
Security camera images recorded in Saskatchewan of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are displayed as RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet speaks during a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on July 23, 2019.
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press
A former co-worker of Sweeney, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Post Friday that Sweeney often talked about her son at work. He had behavioural issues and she tried to give him everything he wanted, including video games, to the point of spoiling him, the former co-worker said.But the relationship was rocky. “I recall her saying a couple of times that she was afraid of him because of his outbursts,” the former co-worker said. The boy eventually ran away from home and moved in with his grandmother.That grandmother, Carol Starkey, has previously said that the pair had left Port Alberni on July 12 in search of work in the Yukon. Alan Schmegelsky previously told the Post that his son, who worked at Walmart, and McLeod were “best friends” since elementary school.Schmegelsky’s online gaming profile shows that he played a variety of styles of games, including multi-player shooter games and those with medieval themes and World War II themes.
A photo Bryer Schmegelsky sent to a fellow online gamer.
One online gamer told the Post this week Schmegelsky had an “aggressive play style” and that Schmegelsky would target a player and harass them until they were forced to leave the game, finding out whatever he could about them that could be used as harassment.The user also said Schmegelsky “spoke highly” of the Azov Battalion, a far-right Ukrainian group whose logo resembles a swastika.Schmegelsky allegedly sent photographs of a swastika armband and a Hitler Youth knife to another online gamer. But his father insists he was not a Nazi sympathizer — just someone who thought the memorabilia was “cool.”McLeod was pictured in a graduation supplement published in the July 4, 2018, edition of the Alberni Valley News. It listed him as having graduated from the Eighth Avenue Learning Centre, which provides an alternative and more individualized learning model.
Alberni Valley News
A statement released by his father, Keith McLeod, this week stated that the family was “trying to wrap our heads around what is happening.”“Kam is a kind, considerate, caring young man (who) has always been concerned about other people’s feelings,” he wrote.Ozren Nemec, owner of the NanaTech technology store in Port Alberni, confirmed Friday that McLeod had attended some computer gaming events — or LAN parties — that he had helped to organize in recent years.“He seemed to be a good, down to earth young man, with great potential ahead of him, and seemed well accepted by his peers,” Nemec said.“Our gaming community is in shock right now,” he said, adding that he feared that the pair’s alleged actions would put a “black mark” on the gaming community.Gaming is one of those activities where those who may be a bit anti-social can still feel a sense of community, Nemec said, adding he’d wished the pair had spent more time in his store so that he might’ve steered them in a more positive direction.With files from Jacob Dube and The Canadian Press