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RCMP say northern B.C. murder suspects admitted to murders on video, motive still unknown

Police release new information on teenaged triple murders
WATCH: RCMP have released new details about two teenaged boys who sparked a Canada-wide manhunt after killing three people in B.C. Sarah MacDonald reports.

The young suspects of three murders in northern B.C. this summer admitting to the killings shortly before their own deaths, but did not say why they committed the violent crimes.

RCMP released the information Friday along with its exhaustive investigative findings into the murders, including several other pieces of evidence that linked Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod to the deaths.

The evidence included six videos on a digital camera found with the young men’s bodies in rural Manitoba, where they take responsibility for the murders and announce plans to kill themselves.

Notably, RCMP also revealed that one of the two semi-automatic rifles used to kill American Chynna Deese, her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler, and Vancouver botany lecturer Leonard Dyck was purchased legally from a hunting supply store on Vancouver Island before the two men made their way to mainland B.C.

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WATCH: RCMP release findings from northern B.C. murder investigation

Those two guns were later found near the bodies of Schmegelsky, 18, and McLeod, 19, in northern Manitoba nearly a month after the murders.

“While we have been able to gain greater clarity on the movements and actions of the two accused, we respect that the answers have not reduced the trauma and grief experienced by the families of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese and Leonard Dyck,” B.C. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett said.

What happened in northern B.C.?

The bodies of Deese and Fowler were found near the Alaska Highway outside Fort Nelson on July 15.

RCMP said Friday the autopsy on the couple determined some of the shots came from behind, and that the damage to their van was not spotted by witnesses who stopped to offer them assistance before their discovery.

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READ MORE: What the investigation of the northern B.C. murders found — and what we still don’t know

Four days later, on July 19, Dyck’s body was found two kilometres south of where a burning truck was found near Dease Lake — more than 500 kilometres from where Fowler and Deese were found.

Investigators said Dyck died from a single gunshot wound. A casing matching ones found near Fowler and Deese’s bodies was found pressed into the ground.

WATCH: (Sept. 18) Father of suspected B.C. murderer speaks about family nightmare

Father of suspected B.C. murderer speaks about family nightmare
Father of suspected B.C. murderer speaks about family nightmare

RCMP on Friday detailed the extensive trail of evidence left behind by Schmegelsky and McLeod after they left their Port Alberni home on July 12.

They legally purchased one of the two rifles used in the murders at a Cabela’s in Nanaimo that same day, RCMP said, using McLeod’s possession and acquisition licence.

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Investigators believe the killings of Fowler and Deese were unplanned and not premeditated, and that the pair came across the couple’s van and “targeted [them] for unknown reasons” before continuing to the Yukon, where they had told their families they were heading for work.

The two men were spotted in Whitehorse multiple times before being seen in the Dease Lake area around the time of Dyck’s death.

READ MORE: ‘This is all preventable’ — Father of B.C. murder suspect questions RCMP role in manhunt

Investigators also could not say why Dyck was killed, but confirmed his wife Helen had told them he often slept in his Toyota RAV4 on long nature drives.

Schmegelsky and McLeod were later spotted with the Toyota RAV4 — now equipped with a racing stripe on the back — multiple times between northern B.C. and Manitoba, including in Meadow Lake, Sask.

RCMP also said McLeod and Schmegelsky had reported to their parents that they were having vehicle troubles on their way back to B.C. from the Yukon before they ceased communication on July 17. Their truck, which was registered to McLeod, was the one found burning near Dyck’s body.

Video contents released

On Friday, RCMP released details of six videos and three pictures contained on a digital camera, belonging to Dyck, found near the bodies of Schmegelsky and McLeod in Manitoba on Aug. 7.

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The first video, which is nearly a minute long, features both men confessing to the three murders and announcing plans to march to Hudson Bay, highjack a boat and travel to Europe or Africa.

In the second, also nearly a minute long, Schmegelsky says the pair have reached the Nelson River, and may have to kill themselves. McLeod agrees. Neither of them expresses remorse as they again take credit for the three killings.

WATCH: (Aug. 12) RCMP say teenage fugitives died of ‘suicide by gunfire’

RCMP: Teenaged fugitives died of ‘suicide by gunfire’
RCMP: Teenaged fugitives died of ‘suicide by gunfire’

Schmegelsky states in a third, 32-second video that he and McLeod have shaved in preparation for their deaths, and are planning to kill more people. He says they expect to be dead in a week.

A 19-second fourth video features the pair expressing their plan to shoot themselves. After a six-second video believed to be unintentional, a final, 31-second video contains the suspects’ “last will and testament,” where they say they wish to be cremated.

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Police said one of the three images on the camera shows Schmegelsky posing with one of the semi-automatic rifles. The second is an unintentional image while the third appears to be a selfie of McLeod.

READ MORE: Behavioural analysts could help determine motive in B.C. murders, expert says

RCMP say they are not releasing the videos or images to the public, saying they wish not to give McLeod or Schmegelsky further notoriety or to inspire further acts of violence by others.

‘Fast-moving investigation’

RCMP said the investigation into the two crime scenes was “fast-moving” and “complex,” involving up to 160 police officers and employees in B.C. alone.

Several witnesses and tips helped investigators not only piece together Schmegelsky and McLeod’s timeline, but also helped paint a picture of the pair as different from the one provided by their families, who described them as “good boys” and incapable of committing murder.

Most notably, one witness reported an encounter on July 17 shortly before midnight — two days after Fowler and Deese were found and two days before the discovery of Dyck.

WATCH: (Aug. 11) Father of Bryer Schmegelsky speaks about his son’s past

Father of Bryer Schmegelsky speaks about his son’s past
Father of Bryer Schmegelsky speaks about his son’s past

The witness said he was pulled over for a nap along the side of the Alaska Highway more than two hours west of Whitehorse, when a truck pulled over in front of his and a male got out, holding a “long gun” and appearing in a hunting stance, moving slowly towards the witness.

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As the truck also began driving slowly towards him, the witness sped off, driving past the truck as the driver covered his face. Police believe those two men were McLeod and Schmegelsky.

Other witnesses helped police trace the pair to gas stations, where items including food, a jerry can and even a cowboy hat were purchased at various times. Remnants of many of those items were found at or near the two crime scenes.

Unanswered questions

Despite the several other pieces of evidence released, there are still unanswered questions.

The origins of the older second rifle used in the murders and found with Schmegelsky and McLeod’s bodies have not been determined. Police say the parts feature several different serial numbers, suggesting the gun was put together from different weapons over years.

RCMP also wouldn’t definitively say why charges were not laid against Schmegelsky and McLeod for Fowler and Deese’s deaths.

Hackett would not elaborate on those points, instead commending RCMP investigators across multiple jurisdictions for their work.

“We know this file had impacts provincially, nationally and internationally,” he said.

“Many have been affected, but none more so than the grieving Fowler, Deese and Dyck families. We are hopeful that the release of the public report and our investigative findings provides greater clarity into this investigation and search.”

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