B.C. teens charged with 2nd-degree murder as Canada-wide manhunt continues
There is an increased police presence in the Manitoba communities of Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation as police continue the manhunt for two teenagers deemed suspects in a double homicide and one other death in Northern B.C.
Authorities are searching for 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, two Vancouver Island teens who police believe shot Lucas Fowler of Sydney, Australia and his girlfriend Chynna Deese of Charlotte, N.C.
In a press release issued Wednesday evening, RCMP released the identity of a third victim, Leonard Dyck, whose body was discovered along Highway 37 near Dease Lake in northern B.C. on July 19.
According to RCMP, McLeod and Schmegelsky have now been charged with one count of second-degree murder in Dyck’s death.
They say as a result of the charges, Canada-wide warrants have been issued for the teens.
Earlier on Wednesday, RCMP confirmed a vehicle had been recovered in the Gillam area on Monday after officers received a report of a vehicle fire.
WATCH: Manhunt for teen murder suspects believed to be in Manitoba
“We can now confirm that this vehicle is the same vehicle the suspects were travelling in,” RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said during a press conference.
As a result, RCMP say a number of resources have been sent to the Gillam area.
WATCH: Greater police presence deployed in Gillam, Man. to locate suspects connected to B.C. murders
The force has also set up an informational check-stop leading into Gillam at the intersection of Provincial Road 280 and Provincial Road 290.
RCMP said they were also following up on “numerous tips” regarding the two suspects and reminded the public to remain vigilant and not to approach the suspects if they are seen.
“We are engaged with police forces across Canada,” Courchaine said. “We are investigating all tips and are continuing to ask for the public’s assistance.”
Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman told Global News on Wednesday that additional specialized officers had been brought into the town.
“They definitely increased their presence,” Forman said. “I was told that we have approximately 20 specialized officers added to the area.”
WATCH: Nationwide manhunt leads to increased police presence in small Manitoba town
Forman said sniffing dogs have also been brought in to help with the search.
“They’re doing what they can to keep the communities of Fox Lake and Gillam safe,” he said.
Gillam’s deputy mayor, John McDonald, told Global News on Wednesday that the community is currently equipped with an added police presence, but overall, he is not too concerned.
“We locked our doors last night during the evening, which we don’t usually do, but I’m not too concerned,” he said.
WATCH: RCMP describe suspects in northern B.C. investigations
The bodies of Fowler and Deese, who had been on a road trip together in Fowler’s blue van, were found on a remote stretch of highway near the Liard Hot Springs on July 15. McLeod and Schmegelsky’s burned-out truck and Dyck’s body were found four days later near Dease Lake, B.C., more than 470 kilometres away from the first crime scene.
McLeod and Schmegelsky, both from Vancouver Island and on their way to Whitehorse to look for work, were originally considered missing by police. That changed Tuesday, though investigators wouldn’t say why.
Police said the pair had been seen in the northwestern Saskatchewan community of Meadow Lake on Sunday, two days after their truck was found.
Investigators have released photos of McLeod and Schmegelsky taken in Meadow Lake.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) issued a warning, saying it appeared the suspects were “heading in an easterly direction.”
“The suspects are to be considered dangerous,” the warning said.
RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said anyone who spots the teens, both six feet four inches tall and weighing around 169 pounds, should not approach them but call 911.
Police have been in contact with the teens’ families to ask for assistance in locating them.
“I’m certain they’re being impacted by this news,” Shoihet said.
WATCH: RCMP stress ‘fluid’ and ‘quick-moving’ investigation into B.C. murders
Claudia Bunce, owner of the Cassiar Mountain Jade store in Jade City, B.C., said McLeod and Schmegelsky stopped in at some point last Thursday, the day before their burned-out truck was found about 115 kilometres away.
The staff member who saw the teens was too shaken to speak to a reporter, but Bunce said the teens arrived in the truck and visited the store for free coffee. She said they were on their own and she doesn’t believe they had a conversation with the employee.
“I don’t think they stood out any more than any other teenage boys who were just on the road,” she said. “We’re a very busy store.”
She said the situation was very frightening for everyone who lives in the remote area.
“As you can imagine, the community is very upset about this,” Bunce said. “It’s very rural — beyond rural. We’re on a highway with no cell service. Most of us don’t have power. So it’s unnerving.”
RCMP were at the store on Tuesday gathering hours of surveillance footage and interviewing staff members.
WATCH: RCMP warn public that suspects in BC double-murder are potentially dangerous
A commissioner with the RCMP, Kevin Hackett, noted there were many unanswered questions in the case but said the Mounties could not release any information that would jeopardize a future prosecution or compromise the integrity of the investigation.
“There are many people who we are yet to speak to who have key facts that could build upon the current evidence and information that we have,” he said.
Fowler’s father, Stephen Fowler, is a chief inspector with the New South Wales Police Force. He told media on Monday that the deaths of his son and his son’s girlfriend were a tragic end to the couple’s love story.
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The inspector went on to say that his son was overjoyed when he met Deese.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Dyck’s family said they were “truly heartbroken by the loss of Len.”
“He was a loving husband and father,” the statement reads. “His death has created unthinkable grief and we are struggling to understand what has happened.”
On Tuesday, Keith McLeod, Kam’s father, pleaded for privacy as the family comes to terms with what is happening.
“This is what I do know — Kam is a kind, considerate, caring young man [who] always has been concerned about other people’s feelings,” he wrote.
Bryer’s father Alan Schmegelsky told the Canadian Press that his son is in “very serious pain” and that he expects he will die in a confrontation with police.
“He’s on a suicide mission. He wants his pain to end,” he said, breaking down into tears. “Basically, he’s going to be dead today or tomorrow. I know that. Rest in peace, Bryer. I love you. I’m so sorry all this had to happen.”
—With files from Global News reporter Maham Abedi and the Canadian Press
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