As police in northern Manitoba search through dense forest, thick bush and vast terrain in their hunt for two young men wanted in three homicides, theories are mounting online of where Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky could be – including a possibility shared by investigators that they may be long gone.
If they are still in the area, going on five days since the last confirmed sighting in Gillam, Man., the two fugitives are up against some of the most difficult conditions Canada’s wilderness has to offer during the summer months.
McLeod and Schmegelsky left Port Alberni by truck on July 13, according to family. They are wanted as suspects in the double homicide of Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, who were found shot to death on July 15 on the Alaska Highway. They are also charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Leonard Dyck, who was found July 19 on Highway 37, near Dease Lake – 500 kilometres from where Deese and Fowler were killed.
Based on sightings confirmed by RCMP, McLeod and Schmegelsky travelled more than 3,000 kilometres between July 19 and July 22, when the Rav-4 they were driving was found torched in the remote northern Manitoba town. Police said Thursday that there had been no reports of stolen vehicles in the area or new confirmed sightings, leading investigators to believe the suspected killers are still in the region.
|Security camera images recorded in Saskatchewan of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are displayed as RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet listens during a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday July 23, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)|
In recent days, weather has turned wet and rainy around Gillam, according to Environment Canada, with storm-like conditions forecast through the weekend.
While Manitoba’s remote north offers plenty of lakes with an abundance of freshwater fish, as well as berries, Gillam deputy mayor John McDonald said earlier this week that the region is also known for its thick bush, swamps and pesky insects.
It’s also easy to get lost.
“If they are wandering around in the bush, they couldn’t have picked a worse time because the sandflies came out three days ago and they’re just voracious,” he said Wednesday.
“I’m quite sure they’ll be more than happy to have someone find them.”
Then there’s the wildlife: wolves, black bears and the odd polar bear that wanders down from the Hudson Bay – one of which was spotted by investigators while searching for McLeod and Schmegelsky on Saturday, about 200 kilometres north of Gillam.
|RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine speaks to media about the ongoing RCMP search in Gillam, Man., for the BC murder suspects Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, in Winnipeg, Friday, July 26, 2019. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)|
“Just some of the wildlife that can be found in northern Manitoba,” RCMP said in a tweet.
As RCMP search on the ground, the Canadian Armed Forces has stepped in to assist with aerial searches. The difficult terrain has proved challenging for police, Cpl. Julie Courchaine explained in briefings through the week.
In an written update on Saturday evening, Manitoba RCMP said that no further information has been found through door-to-door canvassing in the town nor Fox Lake Cree Nation, but that the search remains ongoing.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are considered armed and dangerous and may not be together. They are described as 6’4” and about 170 pounds. If spotted, do not approach them, and call 911 immediately.
– With files from The Canadian Press