The possibility two teenage murder suspects on the run are still alive could be as high as 90 per cent, according to one survival expert.
A nationwide manhunt has been underway for nine days for the accused killers 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky and 19-year-old Kam McLeod. They have been charged with the death of Vancouver man Leonard Dyck and are the primary suspects of the deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.
They were last confirmed seen near the town of Gillam in northern Manitoba on July 22, leading the RCMP to search the tough terrain there, which they said includes unrelenting insects and lots of swamp.
Dave MacDonald, the founder and lead instructor at the International Canadian School of Survival, however, told the John Oakley Show that people in survival situations shouldn’t be underestimated.
He says that near Gillam they do have the necessities to survive, such as lots of water, which they would need to purify either with UV rays, by boiling or by filtering through a T-shirt, as well food from fishes, grouses and berries.
WATCH: RCMP scaling back search for BC murder suspects in Gillam, Man
MacDonald says that young grouse “are not that quick,” easy to kill and abundant in that area, and the fishing is also “pretty good” there.
The two would need 4,000-6,000 calories a day to survive, especially if moving, according to MacDonald.
However, MacDonald does note that the two face some challenges.
They would have to face the heat during the day, which can get up to the high 20s, according to MacDonald, then dropping temperatures at night that can go down to four degrees – causing a chance of hypothermia, especially since they likely won’t start a fire to avoid being spotted.
The bugs could also get to them psychologically, MacDonald says, and they could attract dangerous wildlife, such as bears or coyotes.
“They could definitely be hurting,” he said. “They could be in real sad shape psychologically and physically for sure.”
One factor that could boost their survival chances is breaking into a cabin in the area, of which MacDonald says there are lots of.
If they are alive in northern Manitoba, then it would be easy for them to hide, according to MacDonald, which the RCMP has said as well.
WATCH: RCMP say they’ve done ‘everything they can’ to locate BC murder suspects
“It’s a very tough place to find somebody who doesn’t want to be found,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said Thursday.
Or they might not be in northern Manitoba at all.
Ontario Provincial Police said officers received reports of two “suspicious” men driving a white vehicle near Kapuskasing, Ont. on Thursday that the caller said looks like the suspects, but police have not confirmed it.
The news came hours after RCMP announced they are winding down their search efforts in Gillam, Man.
-With files from Rachael D’Amore