The RCMP are officially entertaining the possibility that Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, suspects in three murders in Northern B.C., are no longer in Gillam, Man., the place where they were last seen.
And if you ask one criminologist, it’s “looking less likely” that they’re in the northern Manitoba community, after the RAV4 they were driving was found torched about 55 kilometres away.
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“I assume they wouldn’t torch that car unless they have another one available,” Neil Boyd, a professor at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University (SFU), told Global News on Friday.
“It’s beginning to appear less likely that they are still in the area given the extent of the police enforcement and the resources that police have to bring to bear on the hunt for these two men.”
As there have been no reports of stolen vehicles, however, police believe they could still be in the area.
For now, police activity appears to still be concentrated in Gillam.
Officers are set to spend the next 72 hours there going door-to-door in an effort to glean more information and tips about the two men, who have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of UBC botany instructor Leonard Dyck.
They’re also suspects in the killings of couple Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese, which are believed to have taken place some time between July 14 and 15.
WATCH: RCMP to begin door-or-door canvassing of Gillam, Man. neighbourhoods
The Canadian Armed Forces are contributing aircraft to the search for Schmegelsky and McLeod, at the request of the RCMP.
The door-to-door canvassing comes after the pair appear to have made a trip of over 3,000 kilometres from July 18 to 22.
As many as 1,400 kilometres may have been covered between Cold Lake, Alta. and Gillam over the course of two days — a drive that could take more than 15 hours without stopping.
On Friday, the RCMP released video showing that Schmegelsky and McLeod visited a Co-op store in Meadow Lake on July 21.
When the RCMP first revealed that the pair were being treated as suspects in the murders in Northern B.C., they attached photos that appeared to be screengrabs from that very video.
RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said the Mounties obtained that video on July 21, the very day the pair were spotted in Cold Lake — meaning they had it for five days before it was made public.
The video was also released three days after the pair became suspects in the killings.
Asked why the Mounties didn’t release the video until now, S/Sgt. Janelle Shoihet of the RCMP’s “E” division said, “It is my understanding that the video was released as soon as all investigative and legislative requirements had been covered off.”
“The video has been released now because we believe that it may assist people in recognizing them,” she said.
“In a still photograph, you cannot see the manner in which they walk (their gait), their facial expressions, their dress and it may be possible seeing them in the video may spark someone’s memory.”
As the case unfolded, there were questions about why certain details weren’t released by the RCMP when they were by police in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW).
When Fowler and Deese’s deaths were announced publicly, the RCMP didn’t initially include the detail that they had been shot. That fact was, however, released by NSW Police.
Boyd said he didn’t see that as a “limitation on the part of police.”
“We’re not working with the same set of information that the police have,” he said.
“We can tell later down the road what judgments were made and why. But at this point we’re not in a position to be able to assign blame or anything of the source, or to cast doubt on the actions that the police have taken.
There were also questions about the time it took to charge Schmegelsky and McLeod in connection with the murders.
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The pair were charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s case on July 24. But they haven’t been charged with the murders of Deese or Fowler, though they’re still considered suspects.
The B.C. RCMP said they’re still working on approving charges in the couple’s deaths.
Police had evidence in Dyck’s murder several days ago, RCMP Cpl. Chris Manseau told The Simi Sara Show on Friday.
He said investigators are working “very hard” to see charges approved in Deese and Fowler’s deaths.
Manseau said the RCMP are wary of releasing too much information because they don’t want to “taint people’s memories.”
“There could be a witness out there who saw something that they may have thought was trivial,” Manseau said.
“If I taint that memory for them, and they give a statement and they say, ‘Cpl. Manseau said this,’ and I remember that, that could be an avenue that could taint that investigation.”
Manseau said police work hard to ensure that information that’s been released is “accurate” and “very timely.”