July 31, 2019 8:13 am
Updated: July 31, 2019 8:39 pm

Questions remain as Manitoba manhunt stretches into Day 9

WATCH: Questions remain as Manitoba manhunt stretches into Day 9


The manhunt for B.C. murder suspects Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, continues into its ninth day on Wednesday. 

Story continues below

The two Port Alberni, B.C., men have Canada-wide warrants out for their arrests. They are charged with the second-degree murder of Leonard Dyck, 64, and are also suspects in the double homicide of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese

RCMP have concentrated their search efforts in the remote region of northern Manitoba. They were canvassing door to door in Gillam last weekend and were present in the small community of York Landing this past Sunday and Monday.

WATCH: RCMP cuts back on York Landing search on eighth day of B.C. murder manhunt 

On Tuesday, RCMP said they had visited more than 500 homes in Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation in search of the two suspects. They have received more than 260 tips, however “none have established that the suspects are outside of the Gillam area,” police said.

Investigators have previously noted that it is possible someone helped the pair leave the area without realizing who they are.

The checkpoint on the road connecting to Gillam was removed by Tuesday afternoon.

As the search wears on, several questions remain unanswered. 

How long will the search continue?

National security expert Christian Leuprecht said it’s “too early to make a judgment call on that.”

A professor at both Queens University and Royal Military College, Leuprecht said the future of the search likely depends on whether any new information is uncovered.

“My personal opinion is that the two suspects are dead,” he said. “If they’re trying to survive in the woods in northern Manitoba, that’s very unforgiving, inhospitable territory. Between the mosquitoes, the muskeg and the bears, you’re not going to get very far.”

Gillam resident Tara Boudreau said residents have traded “a thousand and one theories” on where the suspects could possibly be.

“We know the terrain, we know how vast it is, and it’s a big job,” she said on Tuesday.

“We’re all kind of wondering, well, why haven’t they found anything yet? Well, the terrain is immense. It’s a lot to cover and the first few days were just awful weather.”

WATCH: ‘They will never stop looking’ — Former RCMP officer on national manhunt for B.C. murder suspects

READ MORE: RCMP pull out of York Landing with no new lead in B.C. murder manhunt

Should the RCMP update the public more frequently? 

Leuprecht points out that there is always a trade-off when it comes to releasing information to a restless public and press.

“If you have good intelligence and you have good leads, you don’t want to give your suspects a heads up,” he said.

But he says he also gets the sense that RCMP communications officials likely don’t have “a whole lot more to say.”

“They don’t want to come out and speculate,” he said. 

RCMP have previously warned against sharing or spreading misinformation online. Spokesperson Cpl. Julie Courchaine said on Monday that the force is doing its best to share information in a timely fashion. 

WATCH: RCMP facing questions as hunt for B.C. murder suspects continues

READ MORE: RCMP manhunt: How online rumours affect police investigations

Where did they get the RAV4?

Reporters have asked RCMP about the RAV4 that was discovered burnt in the Gillam area last week. 

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau addressed this question in a radio interview with a Global News show last Friday. 

That’s a question that a lot of people have asked,” he said. “I’ve been asked that many times. Unfortunately, I don’t have the details on it. I know a lot of people are jumping to conclusions because that’s just what people do.  I know we’re still working on that as well.

“The investigators have those details and sometimes I’m just not privy to them.”

READ MORE: Distance from Gillam to York Landing full of ‘challenging terrain,’ experts say

WATCH: Timeline of the B.C. murders

Is it connected to the Highway of Tears?

The bodies of Fowler and Deese were discovered along two separate stretches of highway — Highways 37 and 97 —  that have few interconnecting points between them.

These are not part of the Highway of Tearsa portion of Highway 16/Yellowhead Highway from Prince Rupert on the coast to Prince George in the middle of British Columbia, where dozens of Indigenous women have gone missing or have been discovered murdered over the decades.

READ MORE: Here’s what we know about the 3 dead in northern B.C. and the suspects

What kind of technology are RCMP using?

The Canadian Armed Forces have deployed two aircraft in this search: a C-130H Hercules and a CP-140 Aurora aircraft. The latter is equipped with infrared camera and imaging radar systems.

Leuprecht points out there are challenges with this type of equipment as well.

“Even with heat-seeking equipment, you might stand a reasonable chance of not actually detecting them — in particular, of course, if the individuals are dead,” he said.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale also mentioned last Friday that the RCMP have deployed drones in the search.

WATCH: Bear Clan Patrol offers support during Manitoba manhunt

How long does this type of manhunt continue?

According to Leuprecht, there’s no knowing “how long this might last.”

“If you think of people like the Unabomber, that was a 15-year search,” he pointed out. 

Local community leaders are best poised to advise “to what extent the RCMP should continue to attempt to pursue these operations,” he said.

But if nothing comes up in the next few days, Leuprecht suspects RCMP investigators might reduce their resources in the area. 

“They’re probably going to leave behind a couple of assets in each of those communities, where there have been possible sightings,” he said.

“But look, the bush up there is so thick, if they’re dead, you’ll probably never find them. They’ll be eaten by bears, and that’ll be the end of that.” 

With files by Kerri Breen, Jessica Vomiero, Rachael D’Amore, Amanda Connolly and Jesse Ferreras

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error


Comments closed.

Due to the sensitive and/or legal subject matter of some of the content on globalnews.ca, we reserve the ability to disable comments from time to time.

Please see our Commenting Policy for more.