Vancouver Island teens wanted in B.C. homicides believed dead after bodies found
RCMP believe they've found the bodies of two Vancouver Island teen homicide suspects on a northern Manitoba shoreline.
Mounties say they're confident Port Alberni teens Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, were found dead on the shoreline of the Nelson River at 10 a.m. Wednesday following an extensive search in the Gillam, Man. area.
Manitoba RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy announced the discovery in a Wednesday news conference.
MacLatchy said the discovery of items linked to the suspects along the Nelson River on Friday led specialized RCMP officers to the bodies.
"This morning at approximately 10 a.m. RCMP officers located two male bodies in the dense brush within one kilometre from where the items were found," said MacLatchy.
The bodies were found about eight kilometres from where a burned out Toyota RAV-4, believed to have been driven by Schmegelsky and McLeod, was found near Gillam on July 22.
An autopsy will be held in Winnipeg to confirm that the bodies are those of the homicide suspects and to determine their cause of death.
"To the families of everyone affected by the series of events over the last few weeks, I know it has been so very difficult and I hope today's announcement can begin to bring some closure," said MacLatchy.
Carol Starkey, the grandmother of Bryer Schmegelsky, was in tears when contacted by CTV News by phone before the announcement was made Wednesday.
A woman who answered the phone at the McLeod household in Port Alberni was also emotional when called.
The discovery ended a weeks-long search that began with a series of three murders in northern B.C. in July.
B.C. homicides remain under investigation
Schmegelsky and McLeod were charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of British Columbia lecturer Leonard Dyck, whose body was found July 19 two kilometres from the pair's torched truck and camper near Dease Lake, B.C.
They were also suspects in the deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, after the couple's bodies were discovered on the side of a remote portion of the Alaska Highway days earlier.
The three homicides remain under investigation by BC RCMP, who said Wednesday that bodies being discovered would not end their investigation.
BC RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett said investigators are still building timelines and eliminating other possibilities and suspects in the three homicides.
He said the apparent deaths of the two teens will make it tough to determine why they allegedly committed homicide.
Hackett called the case one of the more "dynamic and unpredictable" investigations ever undertaken by the BC RCMP.
RCMP have contacted the families of Fowler, Deese and Dyck and are continuing to offer them, as well as the families of the homicide suspects, support. Mounties have also consulted with the BC Prosecution Service about their next steps, Hackett said.
Days after the homicide, the discovery of the burned-out RAV-4 near a First Nation reserve in the Gillam area spurred a large-scale search that captured international attention.
Over the weekend, a damaged aluminum boat was found on the shore of the Nelson River in the Gillam area.
Police said at the time they found several items linked to the suspects, but would not disclose what they were.
MacLatchy said the discovery of those items was the "critical" piece of evidence that helped investigators narrow down their search.
It's unclear how long the two males found dead were on the shoreline for, she said.
Asked why officers weren't able to locate the pair earlier, MacLatchy said the area they were searching was "very, very dense brush" that would be hard to find anyone in.