The manhunt that has lasted more than two weeks in the west of the country is finally over. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found the bodies of two men in northern Manitoba Wednesday morning, and the police believe they are two fugitives suspected of committing three murders in British Columbia.
An autopsy will be performed in Winnipeg, said Assistant Commissioner Jane MacClatchy at a press conference, to legally confirm that it is Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19.
The intervention will at the same time determine the cause of death.
The two bodies were found in an area of high vegetation, about one kilometer from the damaged boat that was spotted last week on the banks of the Nelson River in the Gillam area of Manitoba.
Divers were then dispatched to search the watercourse for no results, but further research by specialized teams identified the bodies in an area known as inhospitable “because of the vegetation.
Federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale praised the work of the investigators, who he says have “led this major operation with extraordinary efficiency.”
The manhunt began on July 23 when the two young men, initially listed as missing, officially became suspects of the murder of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.
They were formally charged on July 24 with the murder of Leonard Dyck, a professor at the University of British Columbia. Pan-Canadian arrest warrants had been launched at that time.
A question of time
At a news conference, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacClatchy paid tribute to the tenacity and ingenuity of the police on the ground. Although the suspects had not been seen since July 22, the investigators were convinced it was only a matter of time before they were found.
“Our police knew that it would be enough to discover a single piece of evidence to advance this investigation,” she said.
This discovery occurred last Friday, August 2, when objects related to the two men were found on the shore of the Nelson River. This track reduced the search area and eventually found the corpses.
“I know that the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for the families of all those affected by the series of events. I hope that today’s announcement will bring them some comfort, “said empathetically M me MacClatchy.
The investigation continues
If the manhunt seems indeed over, the investigation into the three murders in British Columbia is far from over, said the province’s RCMP in the far west of the country.
At its own press conference, held in the evening on Wednesday to provide an update on the progress of the investigation, the police force confirmed that there was still a lot of work to be done.
“We still need to ensure that the findings of our investigation, whether statements, chronology of fact or physical or digital evidence continue to confirm our theory and eliminate any other possibility or suspect. As long as this task is not completed, the file will not be closed, “said staff sergeant Annie Linteau.
Investigators in British Columbia spoke with the families of the three victims to inform them of the latest developments in the case.
In addition, Staff Sergeant Linteau indicated that the RCMP is providing support to the families of the victims as well as “to the families of the two men of Port Alberni as they face this difficult situation”.