The father of one of two young men connected to three murders in northern B.C. is apologizing to the victims’ families as he mourns the likely death of his son.
In an interview with Sarah Abo of Australia‘s 60 Minutes, airing Sunday, Alan Schmegelsky said hearing his son may be dead is hard to take, adding he knows how the victims’ families feel losing a loved one.
“It hurts a lot,” he said. “He was my only child. I never get to hug him again. I never get to tease him again. I never get to spend a minute with him again. A lot of parents know how I feel right now.
“I’m so sorry for what’s happened,” he added, addressing the families. “Whether it’s my son or something else, we don’t know. I just lost my son. I know exactly how you feel.”
Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, both 19 years old, are suspected of killing Australian Lucas Fowler and Chyna Deese of North Carolina, whose bodies were found on the side of Highway 97 on July 15.
The pair is also charged with second-degree murder in the death of Vancouver botany lecturer Leonard Dyck, who was found on July 19 nearly 500 kilometres west of that earlier crime scene on the side of Highway 37.
Confirmed sightings of the suspects led police to northern Manitoba, where RCMP and the Canadian military searched the Gillam area for days.
WATCH: Father of Bryer Schmegelsky speaks about his son’s past
As Canada, the U.S. and Australia await the results of an autopsy that will confirm the bodies’ identities, the elder Schmegelsky told Abo he still can’t believe his son was responsible.
“I’m not going to say my son is a murderer until I get some facts,” he said. “You want me to sit here and tell you that my son positively murdered your co-citizen? Because I won’t, because I can’t. I can’t do it.”
RCMP in B.C. have said they are still compiling and analyzing evidence to definitively link the two suspects to Fowler and Deese. They have still not released the evidence connecting the young men to Dyck’s death, which informed the charges against them.
WATCH: (Aug. 9, 2019) RCMP say autopsies of bodies believed to be that of BC murder suspects may be complete
Victim’s sister: ‘You cannot relate to us’
At various points in the interview, Schmegelsky acknowledged he wasn’t there for his son enough.
But he stops short of taking responsibility for Bryer’s alleged fascination with violence and guns, even when Abo presses him about the airsoft rifle he bought for Bryer when he was 17.
“I’m not going to sit here and say it’s my fault,” Schmegelsky said. “I’m not going to do that.”
In a Facebook post Saturday, Deese’s sister Kennedy takes issue with Schmegelsky’s words and descriptions of his troubled family history, which are detailed in a self-published book called Red Flagged he distributed to the media last month.
“We are not cut from the same cloth, as you play the victim and don’t acknowledge your hand in your child’s upbringing and ultimate demise,” she writes.
“You cannot relate to us, as we had no doings in the cause of your pain, when you’ve played a part in the cause of our pain.”
Kennedy goes on to describe her sister as compassionate, strong and hard-working, who earned a degree in psychology to help people in Schmegelsky’s situation find ways to heal.
“There is no white flag of surrender for my family,” she writes. “We are not defeated by divorce, mental health, violence, poverty and socioeconomic constraints, domestic disputes, alcohol or drugs, social media and bullying, feelings of loneliness, or disparities. We have the courage to ask for and offer help.”
At the end of the post, Kennedy Deese says Schmegelsky should have apologized sooner for the actions of his son, “But we still forgive you and have mercy.”
Schmegelsky said he will continue to push police to release concrete evidence linking his son to the murders.
WATCH: (Aug. 7, 2019) Manhunt over, bodies believed to be B.C. fugitives found
Until then, he’s relieved Bryer didn’t go out in the “blaze of glory” he predicted when the two friends were on the run.
“At least I know where he is,” he said. “His troubles are over, OK? His troubles are over. I’m so sad he felt that he had to take this road trip.”