RCMP announced on Wednesday they have found two bodies believed to be those of the suspects in three northern BC killings.
Bryer Schmegelsky, whose 19th birthday was on Monday, and Kam McLeod, 19, had been missing since mid-July and were the subject of a major police manhunt across several provinces.
On Wednesday, Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy – commanding officer of the Manitoba RCMP – said police in northern Manitoba had “located two male bodies in dense brush.”
The bodies were found about a kilometre from the point at which items linked to the suspects were discovered last Friday, which was on the shoreline of the Nelson River.
“We knew we just needed to find that one piece of evidence that would move this search forward,” MacLatchy said.
“At this time, we believe these are the bodies of the two suspects.
“I’m confident that it is them but, to be sure, we have to go to autopsy.”
An autopsy is being scheduled in Winnipeg, both to confirm the bodies’ identities and shed light on the cause of death – about which no information was given on Wednesday.
“To the families of everyone affected … I know it has been so very difficult and I hope today’s announcement can begin to bring some closure,” said MacLatchy, who added she hoped communities in the area would no longer feel “afraid” as a result of the discovery.
The two men were initially deemed missing persons by police when their burned-out truck and trailer were found in the Dease Lake area of northern BC in July.
However, on July 23, RCMP said the two were considered suspects in the deaths of Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, who police say died as a result of “gun violence” some time between July 14 and 15 along the Alaska Highway.
The two were also charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck, of Vancouver, who was found dead at a highway pullout south of the same province’s Stikine River Bridge.
There were no confirmed sightings of the pair since July 22.
MacLatchy said a homicide investigation remained ongoing, with more details to be released “when we can.”
In BC, Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett said police in the province had “spoken to the families … and provided them with the latest update. The RCMP will continue to offer support to them.”
“Investigators in BC have worked tirelessly since the initial deaths were first reported to us. Our investigative efforts have not concluded yet,” said Hackett.
“We need to ensure our investigative findings … continue to confirm our theory that eliminates any other possibilities or suspects. Until that is completed, we will not conclude this file.”