Massive manhunt in wilderness for teen murder suspects
Two teen triple murder suspects on the run in the central Canadian wilderness — perhaps holed up in thick, insect-infested forest inhabited by wolves and bears — were staying one step ahead of a massive police manhunt Friday.
Since Tuesday, the village of Gillam near Hudson Bay has been on the alert for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, who are wanted for three murders.
They are believed to be behind the killings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, as well as Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old Canadian man.
Police consider the Canadian teens to be armed and dangerous, and have warned the population not to approach them if spotted.
The fugitives wound up near the Manitoba province village 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) north of Winnipeg after an epic 2,000-mile chase across three provinces that began in British Columbia, on the Pacific coast, where their three victims were discovered earlier this month.
The teenagers were initially considered by police in British Columbia to be “missing” after their car was found torched last Friday.
But police then discovered the body of a man later identified as Dyck, a botany professor at the University of British Columbia, near another burned-out vehicle believed to have been used by the pair.
Earlier this week, the police named the two natives of Vancouver as formal suspects in the three murders.
Fowler, 23, and Deese, 24, were discovered shot to death on July 15 along the side of the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia.
The teens had been spotted driving a Toyota across northern Saskatchewan. That vehicle was found by strawberry pickers late Monday near Gillam, triggering a massive manhunt, with trackers using teams of dogs to hunt down the fugitives in the thick woods and swamps.
‘Atrocious’ insects and bears’
There were two reported sightings of the wanted teens in Gillam, but none since Monday.
“We believe they are still in the area,” Julie Courchaine, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said Thursday.
Police had received 80 tip-offs about the suspects in the previous 48 hours, Courchaine said, and a roadblock has been set up on the only road — an unpaved track — leading into and out of Gillam.
As well as tracker dogs, police officers were deploying drones and armored vehicles in their search of the area’s dense forests, where vegetation in some places is nearly impenetrable.
Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman said that if conditions on the ground were tough for the police, they were much worse for the fugitives.
“They’re up against some brutal terrain. It’s a swamp, heavy-treed area. The insects are atrocious through [the] swamps,” he told CTV television.
The woods are full of black bears and the occasional polar bear that wanders in from the Hudson Bay area, around 100 miles away, Forman said.