Police reveal how Canada highway killers died
CANADIAN highway killers Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky died in what appears to be a suicide by gunfire, police have confirmed.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed the two deceased men found in Manitoba on August 7 were the two teen murderers.
"The RCMP can … confirm that the two died in what appears to be suicides by gunfire," police said in a statement. "While both individuals were deceased for a number of days before they were found, the exact time and date of their deaths are not known.
"However, there are strong indications that they had been alive for a few days since last seen in July and during the extensive search efforts in the Gillam area."
Two firearms were located with the men and forensic analysis is now under way to confirm that those weapons were connected with the homicide investigations.
Lifelong friends Schmegelsky, 18, and McLeod, 19, were found dead in thick scrub near the shoreline of the Nelson River in remote northern Manitoba on August 7 - ending a marathon search that made headlines around the world.
While on the run, the pair was charged with the second degree murder of university professor Leonard Dyck, 64, and named prime suspects in the killings of Australian backpacker Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24.
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Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were found shot to death on July 15 after their campervan broke down on the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs.
Four days later, Mr Dyck's body was found 500km away on Highway 37, south of the Stikine River Bridge. A burnt out Dodge believed to have been driven by McLeod and Schmegelsky was found two km away but the childhood mates were nowhere to be found.
RCMP initially failed to connect the three crime scenes, treating the teens as missing persons.
On July 23, police dropped a bombshell, charging them with Mr Dyck's death in absentia and officially linking them to the murders of Mr Fowler and Ms Deese.
By that time, Schmegelsky and McLeod were long gone, having driven more than 4000km in a stolen Toyota Rav4 to rural northern Manitoba, where they ditched and torched the car at Fox Lake Cree nation reserve near Gillam before vanishing into the wilderness.
With the world watching, RCMP threw all available resources at finding the pair, sending SWAT teams in heavily armoured trucks, a military jet, drones, sniffer dogs and hundreds of officers to scour more than 11,000 sqkm of heavily forested, swampy and sometimes treacherous terrain.
Gillam and the nearby town of York Landing - which have a collective population of less than 2000 - were placed in lockdown for days as police conducted door-to-door searches of homes and abandoned buildings.
Police were scaling down their search when they lucked out with not one but two breakthroughs on Friday, August 2.
The first was the discovery of a damaged aluminium boat, spotted during an aerial search, near the shoreline of the Nelson River. Around the same time, local tour operator Clint Sawchuk called in what he thought was a sleeping bag on the river bank.
That led to the discovery of several items police were able to "directly link" to Schmegelsky and McLeod on the riverbank - just eight km from where they ditched their getaway car.
Their bodies were found on August 7 in dense scrub, around a km from where the mystery items were recovered.
Sgt Manaigre, who took part in the manhunt, said a group of officers from RCMP Manitoba will remain in Gillam indefinitely looking for clues to assist homicide investigators in British Columbia.
"We were describing (the search) over the last couple of weeks as being some pretty dense bush and some pretty remarkable terrain - in my opinion that's almost an understatement," he told a news conference.
"It was incredible. The steep hills, you've got a fast moving river with very little riverbank. It's unimaginable how … you could traverse that type of area."
Sgt Manaigre said police still have no idea why Ms Deese, Mr Fowler and Mr Dyck were killed.
"That's going to be the biggest puzzle to solve in this investigation," he said. "And we hope we can get some answers on that question."