The investigation into the suspicious deaths of three people in Northern B.C. took a turn Tuesday, when the RCMP announced two teens who were originally considered missing were now suspects in the case.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are wanted in connection to the murder of a tourist couple — 24-year-old American Chynna Deese and 23-year-old Australian Lucas Fowler — who were found shot to death on July 15 near Liard Hot Springs. The pair had been visiting Canada as part of a three-week road trip to Alaska.
Near the teenaged suspects’ abandoned truck, which had been set on fire, the body of Leonard Dyck of Vancouver was also found, more than 470 kilometres from the first crime scene. McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with second-degree murder for his death.
Here’s what we know about the suspects so far.
The pair left Port Alberni, B.C. earlier this month in their now-burned red and grey Dodge pickup truck to look for work in Whitehorse. They stopped in Jade City, B.C. on July 18 and grabbed coffee there. After the truck was found on fire on July 19 near Dease Lake, B.C., police declared the teens missing.
They were spotted on store security footage two days later in Meadow Lake, Sask. and again later in Gillam, Man. The RCMP announced that they were suspects soon after. The duo hadn’t been in contact with their families for a few days before their truck was found. They’re likely still travelling and may have changed their appearances. They were last spotted in a grey, 2011 Toyota Rav 4.
Another burned-out vehicle was found near the reserve of Bird for the Fox Lake Cree Nation on Tuesday, and police confirmed Wednesday that it was the grey Rav 4. On Thursday, the search continued and police said they had no reason to believe the teens had left Manitoba.
McLeod and Schmegelsky have been friends since elementary school and both worked at their local Walmart, according to CBC News. The broadcaster confirmed that McLeod went to Alberni District Secondary School, but could not confirm whether Schmegelsky did as well.
Branden McHale, a friend of McLeod’s, said he was a happy person who “didn’t have a lot of friends” but was “really funny.” He described Schmegelsky as shy.
“Bryer was really quiet with people. He was really loudspoken in his friend group but pretty quiet in general,” he told CBC.
The duo also had a presence on social media. An Instagram profile under Schmegelsky’s name had one post of the teen and its profile photo is him with an arm slung around McLeod. A Facebook account under Schmegelsky’s name also included a post that said “Guns don’t kill people. It’s mostly the bullets.”
Both teens were also avid gamers. A Globe and Mail story also tied both teens to an account on YouTube as well as gaming platforms Steam and Twitch, called “Illusive Gameing”. The accounts reportedly shared images of the soviet hammer and sickle icon, far-right politics, Nazi imagery and sexualized Japanese anime. The duo’s Steam accounts were last active a week before their truck was found on fire.
RCMP said they were investigating photographs of Schmegelsky with Nazi memorabilia, including a swastika armband and Hitler Youth knife, but his father rejected assertions that his son was a neo-Nazi, noting that he was more fond of Russian media, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.
McLeod is 6’4”, approximately 169 pounds and had dark brown hair, facial hair and brown eyes the last time he was spotted. Likewise, Schmegelsky was last seen with sandy brown hair. He’s also 6’4”, and around 169 pounds.
Police say they have spoken to the suspects’ families and asked them for assistance locating the pair.
Keith McLeod, Kam’s father, asked for privacy Tuesday as the family came to terms with the investigation around their son.
“This is what I do know — Kam is a kind, considerate, caring young man [who] always has been concerned about other people’s feelings,” he said in a statement, according to Global News.
Alan Schmegelsky, Bryer’s father, told the Canadian Press he expects the manhunt for the teens to end in his son’s death.
“A normal child doesn’t travel across the country killing people. A child in some very serious pain does,″ he said. He noted that his son had a troubled upbringing after his parents split in 2005, and that his main influences became video games and YouTube.
“He’s on a suicide mission. He wants his pain to end,” he said.
Even if his son is caught, his life will be over, the father said.
“He wants his hurt to end. They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory. Trust me on this. That’s what they’re going to do.”
The father recalled that his son bought a nice black suit with his second paycheque from Walmart.
“Now I realize it’s his funeral suit.”
He also told Vancouver Island’s CHEK News that he was “likely now the most hated dad in the country.”
Police say McLeod and Schmegelsky are armed and should not be approached. If members of the public spot them, they should call 911.
With files from the Canadian Press