VANCOUVER — Two British Columbia men who led police on a cross-Canada manhunt died in what appears to be suicide by gunfire, the RCMP said Monday.
Police say Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod appeared to be dead for a number of days before their bodies were found in northern Manitoba on Wednesday but the exact time of their deaths isn’t known. Autopsies were done by the Manitoba medical examiner.
Police say in a statement there were strong indications that the teens had been alive for a few days since they were last seen in July and during the extensive search efforts in the Gillam area. The Mounties said on July 25 that there had been confirmed sightings of the men in the area and they believed they were still in the region.
Police say two firearms were located with the dead men and forensic analysis is underway to “definitively confirm” that the weapons are connected with the northern B.C. homicide investigations.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia botany lecturer, and were also suspects in the deaths of American Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler, whose bodies were found July 15.
“Investigators are now assessing all items located in Manitoba, along with the previous findings related to the three northern B.C. homicide investigations, in order to gain more clarity into what happened to Leonard Dyck, Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese,” the statement says.
The RCMP say once its review has been completed in the next few weeks it will provide the families with an update and then will release the information publicly.
The autopsy results put a cap on the manhunt, which began July 23 when police announced Schmegelsky and McLeod were suspects in the deaths of the three people in northern B.C.
The teens, both from Port Alberni, had initially been considered missing when the burned out truck and camper they were driving was found just a few kilometres from where the body of Dyck was found at a highway pullout.
The bodies of Deese and Fowler were found on the Alaska Highway, 470 kilometres from where Dyck’s body was discovered on July 19.
A manhunt for McLeod and Schmegelsky led to Gillam, where the Toyota Rav 4 the men were seen driving was found burned. Officers converged on the area to begin what would be a two-week search.
Their bodies were discovered about a kilometre from where police said they found items on the Nelson River belonging to the suspects.
Police have said it may be difficult to determine a motive for the killings because the suspects are dead.
Bryer Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky, said during the manhunt that his son had a troubled upbringing and that he expected the teen to go out in a “blaze of glory.”
A statement issued earlier by McLeod’s father, Keith McLeod, said his son was a “kind, considerate, caring young man.”