Suspects were charged with second-degree murder
By Tania Arora, Staff Reporter
On Wednesday, August 7, the RCMP found the bodies of missing teen fugitives Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky near the Nelson River in northern Manitoba.
It all started with a text conversation between Schmegelsky and his father on July 12 explaining that the pair left their homes in Port Alberni, BC to travel to Alberta. On July 15, police discovered the bodies of a couple shot dead along the Alaska Highway, 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs. The case attracted international media as US woman Chynna Deese, 24, and Lucas Fowler, 23, from Australia were on a trip across Canada at the time of their deaths.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were declared missing at first. On July 19, police found a burning truck belonging to the teens in Dease Lake and, two kilometres away, the body of Leonard Dyck, 64, a lecturer at the University of British Columbia. A nationwide search was announced.
On July 21, Sunday, a Toyota SUV was spotted to be stranded in the mud behind a hospital in Cold Lake, Alberta. Local resident Tommy Ste-Croix pulled over and offered to help the boys pull the car free. Ste-Croix shook hands with the teens after the fact, and both men introduced themselves using their real names. Only later did Ste-Croix hear about their status as missing persons. The next day, the same RAV4 was found burning in a ditch between Gillam, Manitoba and Fox Lake Cree Nation. On July 22, band constables with Tataskweyak Cree Nation stopped the duo at a checkpoint at Split Lake, unaware of their identities. Camping equipment was spotted inside the vehicle, and the pair was allowed to proceed onwards.
On July 24, police officially laid second-degree murder charges against McLeod and Schmegelsky for the death of Leonard Dyck. The pair were considered suspects in the shooting deaths of Deese and Fowler.
After extensive searches and several tips throughout northern Manitoba, police followed the trail of items believed to have belonged to the teens in thick underbrush along the Nelson River. This led to the discovery of the bodies of 19-year-old Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, whose 19th birthday occurred on August 4. As of Monday, August 12, RCMP have stated that the teens died “in what appears to be suicides by gunfire.”
“It comes with huge relief to the community of Fox Lake Cree Nation that this ordeal may finally be coming to a conclusion,” said Chief Walter Spence to the CBC.
The families of both the teens and their victims were unwilling to comment on the discovery of the bodies. When contacted by CBC News after the hunt had ended, the mother of Chynna Deese, Sheila Deese, stated simply that she was “speechless.”
The question of motives for the killings may remain unanswered. Schmegelsky’s father described the teens as “survivalists.” According to someone who spoke with Schmegelsky through the gaming platform Steam, the teen had Nazi regalia among his personal items and seemed fascinated by Nazi history. However, with the deaths of the two teens confirmed, little is left outside conjecture.