August 8, 2019 8:00 am
Updated: August 8, 2019 2:40 pm

Northern B.C. manhunt ends, with many questions left unanswered

WATCH: Alleged bodies of Canada murder manhunt suspects arrive in Winnipeg

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The RCMP believe they have their men after two bodies were found close to the Nelson River in Manitoba on Wednesday.

Police are confident that they are the bodies of northern B.C. murder suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky.

The authorities have been hunting them since at least July 23, when they were confirmed as suspects in the murders of Australian Lucas Fowler, American Chynna Deese and Vancouver man Leonard Dyck.

WATCH: RCMP say suspects travelled in some of Canada’s most remote areas, possibly to ‘avoid detection’

An autopsy is scheduled to be conducted in Winnipeg that will confirm both identity and cause of death, said Manitoba RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy.

According to MacLatchy, the bodies were found in the “dense bush” along the Nelson River at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

WATCH: Canadian Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair said on Aug. 8 that he is proud of the efforts of the RCMP throughout the course of the manhunt for the B.C. murder suspects.

The bodies were found near the shoreline, around eight kilometres from where a burned-out vehicle driven by the suspects was discovered on July 23, she said.

READ MORE: B.C. murder suspects Bryer Schmegelsky, Kam McLeod believed to be dead

The pursuit and investigation lasted weeks, with confirmed sightings dropping off after the pair were last seen in Gillam, Man., on July 23.

The case has left many questions unanswered — and while some are likely to be resolved in the coming weeks, others could remain a mystery.

Here are a few questions about the case that have not been answered yet:

Motive


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At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, B.C. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett said that while officers will continue to investigate, it will be difficult to determine the motive.

“Regarding the motive, it is going to be extremely difficult for us to ascertain definitively what the motive was,” he said. “Obviously, we will not have the opportunity to speak with these individuals.

“The examination of the area where they were located (Wednesday) is still being dealt with and searched, so there may be additional items that could help in that regard — identifying a motive, etc. — but we don’t have that information yet.”

There is no evidence to suggest the suspects were linked to the victims before the murders, nor is there anything tying them to any other incidents in B.C., Hackett said.

WATCH: Goodale says B.C. murders investigation was ‘very challenging, complicated’

Formal charges not laid in connection with Fowler and Deese’s deaths

Schmegelsky and McLeod were each charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s death on July 23.

A Canada-wide warrant was issued for Schmegelsky and McLeod after the charges were announced.

The men were also named as suspects in the deaths of Fowler and Deese, whose bodies were found on the side of Highway 97 on July 15.

However, they were never charged in the tourists’ deaths.

READ MORE: MAP: Northern B.C. murder suspects may have covered 1,400 kilometres over 2 days

On Wednesday, Hackett said the force had “anticipated charges were going to be laid.”

“In order to get to the threshold of charge approval status from a crime perspective, they require information, they require evidence, and many times as in this case (were) relying on forensic evidence and forensic reports and that sometimes takes some time,” he said.

“And understandably, until they have definitive results of those examinations, they’re not in any position to lay charges until that happens.

“But we anticipated the charges were going to be laid,” he said.

If the autopsy confirms the deceased are, in fact, McLeod and Schmegelsky, the current second-degree murder charges will be “abated,” according to the B.C. Prosecution Service.

WATCH: RCMP explain process to releasing information in B.C. murders case

Leonard Dyck’s cause of death

The body of 64-year-old Dyck was found approximately two kilometres south of a burning vehicle along Highway 37 near Dease Lake, B.C., on July 19.

Police have not yet disclosed how the UBC instructor died.

On Wednesday, Hackett said police are aware of the injuries Dyck sustained; however, they would not disclose them out of “respect and sensitivity” to his family.

Police previously confirmed that Fowler and Deese were shot to death.

How did police link the suspects to the victims?

At the press conference on Wednesday, Hackett said there was “significant evidence” linking the suspects to both crime scenes, but did not elaborate further.

“This is early days for the recovery of the two suspects,” he said. “We want to bring back all of the information and all of the evidence that we have. Our investigators will go through that meticulously, and we will be in a better position perhaps in the future, in the near future to talk about all of the linkages, perhaps, that existed.”

He did, however, confirm that the burned-out SUV located in Gillam, which police said was driven by the suspects, had belonged to Dyck.

WATCH: B.C. RCMP say burnt RAV 4 vehicle was Leonard Dyck’s vehicle

Were the suspects ever in York Landing or Kapuskasing?

Schmegelsky and McLeod had been seen across the country following the murders, in Cold Lake, Alta., Meadow Lake, Sask., and finally Gillam, Man., where they were last confirmed to have been seen.

There were also reportedly seen in York Landing, about 200 kilometres from Gillam.

RCMP moved resources to the remote community after Indigenous watch group the Bear Clan Patrol said they spotted two men going through a dump yard who met Schmegelsky and McLeod’s descriptions.

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However, the Mounties later said they could not substantiate the tip, and police resources were pulled from the area.

Then, word emerged from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) on July 31 about a “suspicious vehicle” that was driving through a construction zone on Highway 11 in Kapuskasing, Ont.

The OPP, however, could not confirm the identities of the people inside the vehicle, and said they would continue to investigate.

How much did it all cost?

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he will “tally at the end” the cost of the hunt and investigation that has taken police across more than 11,000 sq. km. of territory in northern Manitoba.

“At this stage, I couldn’t speculate on what the costs are,” he said.

“What Canadians expect is that their policing and security services will do what they need to do to investigate crime and to make sure the appropriate consequences follow.”

WATCH: The men believed responsible for the deaths of three people in northern British Columbia have been found dead in Manitoba.

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