Lucas FowlerLucas Fowler, 23, was an Australian tourist who had bought an old blue van and repurposed it as a camper so he and his girlfriend could drive to Alaska.Travel was their passion, and they were skilled in the ways of the open road. Several people, for example, reported seeing Fowler and his girlfriend seated on the roadside in northern B.C., happily waiting for their van’s flooded engine to drain.The last known images of them show them embracing at a Fort Nelson gas station, after he gassed up the van and she cleaned the windows.Fowler was the son of a senior Australian police officer, Stephen Fowler, chief inspector with the New South Wales Police Force. Officers from that force flew to Canada to help liaise with Canadian police. Fowler’s body was found July 15 near Liard Hot Springs. Both he and his girlfriend had been shot to death.
Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler.
Chynna DeeseChynna Deese, 24, was an American tourist from Charlotte, North Carolina. She was the youngest in a large family who was known as a free spirit.She met Fowler in Croatia, where she had been working at a hostel, and they bonded over a shared love of travel. Their families expected them to marry, and recalled with humour their plan to raise children in Australia for at least two years to ensure they had the accent.The Globe and Mail reported that Sheila Deese described her daughter Chynna as a “beautiful soul” who volunteered at a camp for children with special needs, often donated blood, and had given away many of her possessions to pursue a less materialist lifestyle.Her brother said in a Facebook post that she had recently been to see cow branding at a ranch Fowler worked at before embarking on their drive north.“Chynna was a loving free spirit who travelled the world; she had a genuine passion for the well-being of all people,” her obituary reads. “She always had a positive outlook on life and she unfailingly brought joy to all that came in contact with her.”
Leonard DyckLeonard Dyck, 64, was a University of British Columbia lecturer who lived in Vancouver. He was a botanist who studied the ecology of seaweed, and had completed his PhD in 2004. Since then, he established himself as a well-liked fixture of the UBC botany program, often leading field trips for students up and down the Pacific Northwest. He was an avid camper, often solo, and is thought to have been on a camping trip when he was murdered by Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky. Dyck’s body was found July 19 south of Dease Lake, B.C., near to the burnt out Dodge pickup truck Schmegelsky and McLeod had driven from Port Alberni. The only charges filed in the case were over this murder.“When you first met Len, he had a somewhat gruff exterior, but students soon realized he was a knowledgeable, trusted teacher and scholar who loved sharing his enthusiasm and curiosity and showing them how to uncover hidden gems in the natural world,” said Patrick Martone, professor of botany at UBC.Dyck was a married father of two children. Police initially released a sketch of him because they had been unable to identify his body.
Bryer SchmegelskyBefore he was found dead in the bush of northern Manitoba with his alleged accomplice in a cross-country murder spree, Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, had been living with his grandmother in Port Alberni, the industrial logging city in the middle of Vancouver Island.He was tall and thin, six-foot-four inches and 169 pounds, and although he had recently been working at Walmart, with his best friend since elementary school, Kam McLeod, the pair had told family they were heading to Whitehorse to find new and better work, driving a red and grey Dodge pickup truck.His father Al Schmegelsky told local media the two friends liked to “go into the woods and play war” and that both were adept at wilderness survival. The elder Schmegelsky also said his son had endured emotional trouble since his parents separated when he was a child, and had occupied himself primarily with video games and YouTube. The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Schmegelsky had a Facebook account linked to an account called “Illusive Gameing,” which included imagery and themes of far right politics, Communist and fascist iconography, sexualized Japanese anime, and a survivalist video game.It also published an image of Schmegelsky in military fatigues holding a rifle, and an image said to have come from Schmegelsky showing a red Nazi swastika armband and a knife with the German words for “blood and honour” on the blade. Another shows him in a gas mask.Before news of his death, Schmegelsky’s father also told media he thought his son was on a “suicide mission” and expected him to go out in a “blaze of glory.”
Kam McLeodKam McLeod, 19, was tall and thin — six-foot-four inches and 169 pounds — like Bryer Schmegelsky, according to police. Classmates described him as more social and friendly than his more reserved friend Schmegelsky. But he appeared to have shared some of Schmegelsky’s darker interests. McLeod’s online presence suggests he was interested in Communist groups, and he connected to the same account Illusive Gaming.“This is what I do know — Kam is a kind, considerate, caring young man (who) always has been concerned about other people’s feelings,” wrote his father Keith McLeod.On July 22, just before they were named as suspects, McLeod and Schmegelsky drove through a traffic stop in Manitoba and were pulled over by Albert Saunders, a Split Lake First Nation Safety officer, who searched their vehicle but found only survival gear and maps.“They looked scared. I spoke to the one with the moustache, Kam McLeod,” Saunders told the Daily Mail. “He just kept saying, ‘Sorry.’ They didn’t say where they were going.”According to RCMP, it was not until this past Friday that the search around Gillam, Man., finally produced a confirmed link to the fugitives, items that included a battered aluminum boat, found eight kilometres from the burnt out wreck of their last known vehicle. On Wednesday, the bodies of McLeod and Schmegelsky were found about one kilometre away from those items, in the bush.• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: josephbreanTimeline of eventsJuly 15 — The bodies of a man and a woman are found near a blue van on the Alaska Highway, also known as Highway 97, near Liard Hot Springs, B.C.July 17 — RCMP say the deaths are suspicious.July 18 — RCMP announce Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his 24-year-old American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, are homicide victims. Meanwhile, in Jade City, B.C., Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are spotted in a store where they stopped for free coffee. Jade City is about 350 kilometres from where the two bodies were found.July 19 — Police announce the body of a man has been found two kilometres from a burned-out truck belonging to McLeod and Schmegelsky near Dease Lake, B.C. The two teens are missing. Dease Lake is about 470 kilometres from the first crime scene.July 21 — McLeod and Schmegelsky are spotted in Cold Lake, Alta., where a local resident, not knowing who they are, helps them free a stuck Toyota Rav 4 they are driving. The are also captured on security camera footage at a store in Meadow Lake, Sask.July 22 — Mounties say Fowler and Deese were shot. They release composite sketches of a man seen speaking with the couple on the highway where they were found dead and a sketch of the unidentified man found dead near the burned truck. Fowler’s father, an Australian police inspector, pleads for public help in the investigation. At the same time, band constables with Tataskweyak Cree Nation at Split Lake in northern Manitoba talk with McLeod and Schmegelsky at a checkstop, unaware of who they are. The constables see camping gear and maps in their vehicle.July 23 — RCMP announce Schmegelsky and McLeod are suspects in the three deaths. They release photos of the men and a 2011 grey Toyota Rav 4 they may have been driving. Fox Lake Cree Nation says a burned-out vehicle is found near Gillam, Man., about 170 kilometres east of Split Lake. Police search that area.July 24 — RCMP confirm the burned-out vehicle near Gillam is the Toyota Rav 4 the suspects are believed to have been driving. The third victim is identified as 64-year-old Leonard Dyck of Vancouver. He was a lecturer in the University of British Columbia’s botany department.July 25 — Manitoba Mounties confirm two sightings of Schmegelsky and McLeod in the Gillam area. RCMP say the sightings, along with no reports of stolen vehicles, lead investigators to believe the suspects are still in the region. They say they are investigating a photograph of Nazi paraphernalia allegedly sent by Schmegelsky to another user on a video game network. Schmegelsky is also pictured in military fatigues brandishing an airsoft rifle and wearing a gas mask.July 28 — RCMP descend on York Landing, an isolated community southwest of Gillam, after it’s reported the suspects were seen at the local dump.July 29 — RCMP are unable to confirm the sighting and pull back to Gillam.July 31 — Police announce they have done everything they can and are scaling back the search, although not ending it.Aug. 2 — RCMP say they found a damaged rowboat on the Nelson River.Aug. 4 — RCMP dive team conducts underwater search “of significant areas of interest.”Aug. 6 — RCMP say they have found several items linked to Schmegelsky and McLeod on the shore of the Nelson River in northern Manitoba. The Mounties would not disclose what the items are but say they were found nine kilometres from the vehicle they were driving.Aug. 7 — Police say they believe they have found the bodies of McLeod and Schmegelsky in dense brush in northern Manitoba. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said the bodies were found earlier in the morning near the shoreline of the Nelson River, within a kilometre of where several items linked to the two suspects were found. Autopsies are scheduled to confirm their identities.— The Canadian Press