August 1, 2019 10:59 am
Updated: August 1, 2019 8:39 pm

Manhunt for B.C. murder suspects enters new chapter as Ontario police probe ‘suspicious’ car

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The uneasiness felt across northern Manitoba over two fugitives believed to be dangerous may be brewing in Ontario.

Provincial police confirmed Wednesday that officers received a report of two “suspicious” men driving a white vehicle through a construction site near Highway 11 in Kapuskasing, Ont., at around 10:30 a.m.

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The caller told police they believed the men inside the vehicle were Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod — the friends accused in the deaths of three people in northern British Columbia.

READ MORE: Police probe report of suspicious vehicle in Kapuskasing, Ont., amid manhunt for B.C. murder suspects

Ontario Provincial Police told Global News they have not confirmed that the men in the vehicle were Schmegelsky and McLeod. The sighting, at this point, is being treated as a report of “two suspicious males.”

“The OPP is continuing to investigate this incident and is actively looking for the vehicle,” the provincial police agency said in a news release.

Kapuskasing Mayor David Plourde stressed that so far, the sighting has not been confirmed.

“The OPP do a fine job… so I’m sure that (the suspects) will be found if they do come through Ontario, and we’ll have to trust that (OPP) do their job and we catch them,” he told Global News Radio’s John Oakley Show on Thursday.

The news of the incident in Kapuskasing came hours after RCMP announced they would wind down search efforts in Gillam, Man.

The case has centred on the small, remote town since the discovery of a torched vehicle.

WATCH: Police investigate report of two ‘suspicious’ men in Kapuskasing, Ont., as Manitoba manhunt continues 

RCMP allege the burned-out Toyota RAV4 had been used by Schmegelsky and McLeod, though they have yet to disclose what led them to believe that.

A “credible tip” led the hunt to nearby York Landing, Man., over the weekend, but the sighting was never substantiated and RCMP pulled out and returned to Gillam.

For nine days, RCMP and Royal Canadian Air Force members scoured air and land for the accused killers.

READ MORE: Manhunt for B.C. murder suspects shrinking but not ending

Investigators covered 11,000 square kilometres of the challenging, marshy northern Manitoba terrain and canvassed more than 500 homes and abandoned buildings in Gillam and nearby Fox Lake Cree Nation with no signs of the suspects.

Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman said Thursday that the RCMP’s presence is reduced, but they remain active.

“They haven’t left us abandoned by any means,” he said. “They’re still doing their due diligence within the area.”

He said there are mixed feelings in the community — some residents are still unsure and concerned, while others are going back to normalcy.

“I’m hoping that we can heal quickly as a community, us and Fox Lake,” he said.

WATCH: Questions remain as Manitoba manhunt continues

Previously, RCMP said it was possible that Schmegelsky and McLeod had help leaving Gillam from someone who wasn’t aware of their status as fugitives.

“The north part of the province is a very unforgiving place,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said, adding that police have not ruled out the possibility the two are deceased.

“It’s a very tough place to find somebody who doesn’t want to be found.”

The last confirmed sighting of the pair was in Gillam on July 22.

WATCH: RCMP on BC manhunt: We really want to find these people

Gillam is located more than 2,300 kilometres northwest of Kapuskasing.

Manitoba RCMP say they have not sent any resources to Kapuskasing to help search for the vehicle.

The OPP said its officers are actively patrolling the highway where it was seen.

In an email to Global News on Wednesday night, an OPP spokesperson said the force has received “dozens” of calls over the last week related to the manhunt but none have been verified.

READ MORE: Port Alberni residents ‘struggling’ while waiting for B.C. murder suspects to be caught, mayor says

Schmegelsky, 18, and McLeod, 19, have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Vancouver man Leonard Dyck.

The longtime friends from Port Alberni, B.C., are also considered suspects in the fatal shootings of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese.

WATCH: The history of record-long manhunts in Canada

Fowler, from Australia, and Deese, of the U.S., were found dead near the Alaska Highway in northern B.C. on July 15. Dyck’s body was found on Highway 37 near Dease Lake, B.C., on July 19.

A Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for both Schmegelsky and McLeod.

— With files from Hannah Jackson and Jeff Semple

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

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