RCMP called off a search in York Landing, Man. on Tuesday, as the manhunt for Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod rolled into an eighth day with no significant lead.
The RCMP-led search effort has already stretched from British Columbia to Saskatchewan to Manitoba, and while there was a reported sighting earlier on Sunday in York Landing, Man., there has not been a confirmed sighting of the pair in more than a week.
Resources were pulled out of the town on Tuesday.
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“The heavy police presence in York Landing has been withdrawn and policing resources in the community will return to normal,” RCMP Manitoba tweeted.
“The RCMP thanks the community for their patience and understanding.”
It was in the remote community of York Landing on Sunday night that investigators chased their latest possible piece of evidence, described as a “credible tip,” in the hunt.
Volunteers from the Indigenous watch group Bear Clan Patrol told RCMP they spotted two men who matched the description of Schmegelsky and McLeod scavenging through a dump yard on Sunday.
A multitude of police resources was deployed to the small town, including a canine team and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
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Residents were advised to stay in their homes with the doors locked.
Despite a “thorough and exhaustive” search, RCMP turned up empty.
Cpl. Julie Courchaine said RCMP were unable to substantiate the tip in York Landing and that no contact has been made with the individuals. They could not confirm whether the men spotted at the dumpsite — who reportedly fled into the woods — were the “wanted suspects.”
Leroy Constant, chief of the York Factory First Nation, said 10 officers and a team from Bear Clan Patrol stayed stationed in his community overnight.
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It’s not clear what Monday’s lack of development means for Tuesday’s search.
Previously, the focus was on Gillam. It was there that police found the burned remains of a vehicle that Schmegelsky and McLeod had allegedly been travelling in.
The last confirmed sighting of the pair was more than a week ago in Gillam, about 90 kilometres away from York Landing.
Perhaps the most concrete sighting was even earlier, near Split Lake, about 169 kilometres from Gillam. Band constables of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation stopped the two young murder suspects as they drove through the Manitoba reserve.
Coun. Nathan Neckoway told Global News the pair was stopped during a routine check for alcohol — a common practice for the dry community. Neckoway said officers “weren’t aware of their status” as fugitives and did not see anything amiss, so they let them go.
When asked about Neckoway’s comments, RCMP said they would not comment. The agency did, however, previously say there was a confirmed sighting of the pair in Split Lake.
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RCMP said officers pored over more than 200 tips over a five-day span, but none convinced them the pair had ever left the Gillam area until the report from York Landing on Sunday.
The search in Gillam took officers along rail lines and waterways, to cottages and cabins, canvassing more than 250 homes. A Via Rail train passing through the town en route to Churchill was also subject to a search over the weekend.
RCMP are still asking for any information to be reported to them immediately. Courchaine told reporters Monday that misinformation on social media has created some “issues” for investigators and asked that people refrain from taking their tips to the internet.
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Schmegelsky and McLeod, two longtime friends, have been charged in the death of Vancouver man Leonard Dyck. They are also considered suspects in the shooting deaths of a tourist couple, Australian Lucas Fowler and American Chynna Deese.
RCMP said the pair may have changed their appearance. They are still considered to be armed and dangerous.