SURREY, B.C. — Two suspects confessed to the murders of three people in northern British Columbia in several videos taken before they shot themselves in a suicide pact, the RCMP said Friday.
The Mounties said Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, expressed no remorse in the videos and did not explain their motives behind the killings that sparked a nationwide manhunt this summer.
Before their deaths, the men 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.
The RCMP released new details of its investigation Friday, including descriptions of the videos, and said police located a digital camera belonging to Dyck near where the bodies of the two suspects were found in northern Manitoba.
The Mounties said McLeod shot Schmegelsky before shooting himself in a suicide pact, and two guns found near their bodies were the same firearms used in the murders of Deese, Fowler and Dyck.
The RCMP said its Behavioural Analysis Unit believes the videos may inspire copycat killers and that releasing them would be seen as disrespectful to the victims and their families, so they aren’t being made public at this time.
The camera contained three still images and six videos. In the first 58-second video, the RCMP describe Schmegelsky as saying their plan is to march to Hudson Bay, hijack a boat and travel to Europe or Africa. In the next, which is 51 seconds, he says they have reached a river that is large and fast-moving and may have to commit suicide, to which McLeod agrees.
The next 32-second video shows Schmegelsky saying they have shaved in preparation for their own deaths and they now plan to kill more people and expect to be dead in a week, the RCMP said.
The fourth video is 19 seconds long and they say they will shoot themselves, while the next is just six seconds and appears to have been taken accidentally. The final 31-second video is what the two men describe as their “last will and testament,” and they express their wish to be cremated, the RCMP said.
One of the still images shows Schmegelsky lying on his side posing with a SKS rifle, another is a blurred photo with a finger across the lens and the third shows McLeod from the chest up.
The Mounties released a seven-page, double-sided overview of their investigation to media on Friday. The document provides a timeline and new details of the homicides, but does not draw any conclusions about motive.
“Interviews of McLeod and Schmegelsky’s families, teachers and friends, seized evidence from search warrants and the six video recordings did not reveal their motivation for the murders,” the overview says.
The investigation began July 15 when the bodies of Fowler and Deese were discovered near Highway 97, south of Liard River Hot Springs. The bodies were found near a van registered to Fowler and a search of the vehicle over the next two days turned up identification belonging to the pair.
Police found unspent and spent bullet casings with the head stamp “101” and “75” at the crime scene, and the seized ammunition was deemed to be 7.62 by 39 millimetre calibre.
An autopsy on July 19 confirmed that Fowler and Deese died of multiple gunshot wounds and it appears that the shooter or shooters stood behind the victims for at least some of the shots.
Also on July 19, a burned truck registered to McLeod was found about 60 kilometres south of Dease Lake. Dyck’s body was found about two kilometres away but was unidentified at that time and police released a composite sketch.
The families of McLeod and Schmegelsky said they were good kids who had left on a trip to northern B.C. and Yukon to look for work, and the pair had limited police interaction and no criminal records, so the RCMP treated them as missing persons.
A search warrant of the truck located burnt rounds with the head stamp “101” and “75,” matching those found at the first crime scene.
On July 22, the RCMP received information that a witness had come forward and stated they knew McLeod and Schmegelsky and believed the boys may have been involved in the murders. The Mounties declined to provide any more information about the witness.
Later that day, Helen Dyck called the police and reported that she believed the composite sketch was her husband.
The RCMP publicly identified Schmegelsky and McLeod as suspects in the three murders the next day.
The two young men legally purchased a SKS semi-automatic rifle and a box of 76.2 by 39 millimetre calibre ammunition using McLeod’s gun licence at a store in Nanaimo on July 12, the same day they left their hometown of Port Alberni, the Mounties said.
The manhunt for McLeod and Schmegelsky led to Gillam, Man., where Dyck’s Toyota Rav 4 was found burned. Officers converged on the area to begin what would be a two-week search.
On Aug. 1, McLeod’s backpack was found containing a full box of ammunition, his wallet and clothing. On Aug. 7, the suspects’ bodies were found with two firearms, one of which was the same gun purchased at the Nanaimo store.
Based on the evidence, police say no other suspects are responsible for the three homicides.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2019.
Laura Kane, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Dyck’s body was found July 15 and Deese and Fowler’s bodies were found July 19.