Mounties are set to release their investigative findings into the killings of three people in northern British Columbia that triggered a weeks-long national manhunt.
On Friday, B.C. RCMP will take the unusual step of holding a technical briefing with media – a process usually reserved to explain more complicated or detailed matters – followed by a regular news conference and the public release of a report into the homicides of Chynna Deese, Lucas Fowler and Leonard Dyck.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were charged with second-degree murder in Mr. Dyck’s death, and named suspects in those of Ms. Deese and Mr. Fowler.
Police would not say Thursday whether they will release videos that the suspects had filmed of themselves while on the run. But Peter German, a former deputy commissioner with the RCMP, said that would be unlikely.
“Police will want to avoid sensationalizing what happened and in any way be seen as giving these individuals a platform in death,” he said.
The Globe and Mail previously reported that the suspects had filmed several videos of themselves, including a last will and testament, while making their way across the country. Their family members have been shown a short clip.
Mr. German said it is good that police will hold Friday’s briefing, as the file “captured the imaginations of Canadians” who are now seeking closure.
“The public wants to know why this happened in the first place, and so anything that the RCMP can do to shed light on motive I believe would be very helpful to the public,” he said.
The bodies of Ms. Deese, a 24-year-old American, and Mr. Fowler, her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend, were found near Liard Hot Springs on July 15. Four days later, the body of Mr. Dyck, a 64-year-old lecturer in the University of British Columbia’s botany department, was found about 470-kilometres away.
Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky were named suspects the following week.
A highly publicized manhunt spanning five provinces ensued, involving police dogs, drones and the Canadian Armed Forces scouring the dense brush of the Canadian wilderness. Communities were put on lock down and police received more than 1,000 tips from across the country.
The search ended on Aug. 7 in northern Manitoba, when items found on a shoreline gave investigators an area of focus, leading them to the discovery of the suspects’ bodies. Police said that the pair had died of suicide by gunfire, and that two firearms were located with their bodies.
Sarah Leamon, a lawyer representing Bryer’s father, Al Schmegelsky, said Thursday that her client is eagerly awaiting answers that the RCMP news conference will provide, but is not certain how he should feel.
“He says it’s not an easy thing to deal with,” Ms. Leamon said in an interview.
She added that he extends his sympathies to anyone affected by the tragedy.
The RCMP had not, as of mid-Thursday, made any arrangements for the elder Mr. Schmegelsky to be briefed, Ms. Leamon said.
“I first learned about the [RCMP news conference] from the media,” she said. “But for the media, we might have been caught off guard.”
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