Alert River Guide Helped End Hunt for Fugitives

Authorities say motive of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod might never be known
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2019 11:15 AM CDT
Bodies of Fugitives Found, but Answers May Be Elusive
In this July 23, 2019, file photo, security camera images of fugitives Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, then 18, are displayed during a news conference in Surrey, British Columbia.   (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP File)

Canadian authorities say they're sure they've found the bodies of missing fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, and autopsies on Thursday are expected to confirm that, reports the CBC. What the autopsies won't be able to reveal, however, is why the pair of 19-year-olds allegedly murdered three people last month before going on the lam into the Canadian wilderness. Details and developments in the case:

  • The break: On Friday, tour guide Clint Sawchuk called authorities to say he'd spotted a blue sleeping bag tangled in willows on the Nelson River, reports the Globe and Mail. Police converged on the area and found a damaged aluminum rowboat the pair are believed to have taken through the rapids, along with some of their personal belongings. On Wednesday, police found two bodies in the region's dense brush.
  • Relief: "I'm so happy that I made that call," says Sawchuk, 40, whose wife and two children had gone to Winnipeg rather than staying in the area during the manhunt.

  • Questions: The autopsies should reveal how and when the pair died. "Was it a double-suicide? Was it a murder-suicide pact sort of thing? Or was it the elements themselves?" a former commissioner for the Ontario Provincial Police tells CTV News. With luck, the autopsies might also link the pair to the murders, perhaps through fibers or DNA.
  • Hunt for phones: Authorities continue to search the area where the bodies were found, hoping to find cellphones that might shed light on their movements and perhaps the killings. "Maybe there are pictures," says a former homicide detective. "Maybe there are text messages that weren't retrieved, WhatsApp conversations, manifestos for lack of a better term."
  • Lifelong friends: Without phones or other discoveries, police acknowledge they may never know what prompted the killing spree. Family and former classmates of the British Columbian teens described "unstable home lives, threats of violence and suicide, and fascination with Nazi and Soviet symbols," per the Globe and Mail. Schmegelsky’s father thought his son was anguished and on a "suicide mission."
  • Victims: The pair are suspected of killing Chynna Deese of Charlotte, NC, and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, whose bodies were found July 15 along a British Columbia highway, notes the AP. They were also charged with killing Vancouver's Leonard Dyck, whose body was found along a highway about 300 miles away from the couple's bodies. The two bodies found Wednesday were near Gillam, Manitoba, more than 2,000 miles away. "This is like traveling from London to Moscow coupled with the fact that they were traveling in areas that are not highly populated," says the RCMP's Kevin Hackett.
(More Canada stories.)

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