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Dense forest of birch, tamarack and spruce surrounds the area near Gillam, Man., where locals found the burned-out car that police believe Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod were driving. The search for the men ended on Aug. 7 when two bodies were found in the bush.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

The latest

  • Fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, the RCMP said Monday after concluding autopsies on the two bodies recovered from the Manitoba wilderness last week. Though there is still uncertainty about how their final days unfolded, “there are strong indications that they had been alive for a few days since last seen in July, and during the extensive search efforts,” the RCMP said in a statement.
  • The deaths of the fugitives – who were charged with second-degree murder in one killing on the highways of northern B.C. last month, and declared suspects in two more – make it even harder to ascertain why Leonard Dyck, Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese were killed. “There is no closure, but an open wound greater than humanly possible to heal or comprehend,” Chynna Deese’s mother, Sheila, wrote on Facebook in response to Monday’s autopsy announcement.
  • For more than two weeks, the men were sought in a massive RCMP manhunt, whose end brought relief to Gillam, Fox Lake Cree Nation and other communities near where the suspects’ burned-out car – and later, their remains – were found. In the end, it was a local river guide, Clint Sawchuk, whose discovery of a sleeping bag in the Nelson River led police to a rowboat and items belonging to the suspects that helped them narrow down the search.


The manhunt and where the bodies were found

1

CANADA

2

3

4

5

B.C.

ALTA.

SASK.

MAN.

0

300

U.S.

KM

July 15, near

Liard Hot Springs:

Two bodies found on

Alaska Highway

1

July 18, Jade City:

Suspects spotted

2

July 19, Dease Lake:

A body found two

kilometres from truck

belonging to suspects

3

July 21, Cold Lake:

Suspects spotted

4

July 21, Meadow Lake:

Suspects spotted

5

0

24

KM

Sundance

Stephens Lake

6

Gillam

MANITOBA

Split Lake

7

July 22, Split Lake:

Band constables pulled

thea pair over before they

were named suspects

6

July 28, York Landing:

Police search area in

response to unconfirmed

sighting of suspects

7

Boat launch where the dive team and others took off to search

July 22, Sundance:

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

280

Sundance

August 2:

Approximate

rowboat

location

Nelson

River

August 8:

Approximate

body location

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN;

OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; HIU;

GOOGLE EARTH

1

CANADA

2

3

MAN.

4

5

B.C.

ALTA.

SASK.

0

300

U.S.

KM

July 15, near Liard Hot Springs:

Two bodies found on Alaska Highway

1

July 18, Jade City:

Suspects spotted

2

July 19, Dease Lake:

A body found two kilometres from

truck belonging to suspects

3

July 21, Cold Lake:

Suspects spotted

4

July 21, Meadow Lake:

Suspects spotted

5

0

12

KM

Sundance

280

6

Stephens Lake

Gillam

MANITOBA

Split Lake

7

July 22, Split Lake:

Band constables pulled the pair over

before they were named suspects

6

July 28, York Landing:

Police search area in response to

unconfirmed sighting of suspects

7

Boat launch where the dive team and others took off to search

July 22, Sundance:

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

280

Sundance

August 2:

Approximate

rowboat

location

Nelson

River

August 8:

Approximate

body location

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN;

OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; HIU;

GOOGLE EARTH

0

300

July 18, Jade City:

Suspects spotted

July 15, near Liard Hot Springs:

Two bodies found on Alaska Highway

KM

July 21,

Cold Lake:

Suspects spotted

CANADA

ALBERTA

SASK.

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

MANITOBA

July 19, Dease Lake:

A body found two

kilometres from truck

belonging to suspects

July 21,

Meadow Lake:

Suspects spotted

U.S.

July 22, Split Lake:

Band constables pulled the pair over before they were named suspects

290

Sundance

280

Stephens Lake

Gillam

MANITOBA

Split

Lake

July 28, York Landing:

Police search area in response to

unconfirmed sighting of suspects

0

12

KM

Boat launch where the dive team and others took off to search

August 2:

Approximate

rowboat

location

Nelson

River

August 8:

Approximate

body location

July 22, Sundance:

Suspects’ burned-

out vehicle found

280

Sundance

Fox Lake

Cree Nation

Reserve

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; HIU; GOOGLE EARTH

When Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, left home in Port Alberni, B.C. in July, they claimed they were heading to Whitehorse to find work. When their Dodge pickup truck and sleeping car were found in flames near Dease Lake, B.C., in the same area where a man’s body was previously found, police declared them missing. But when sightings and CCTV footage confirmed they were still alive, they became the most wanted fugitives in Canada, suspects in the deaths of three people found shot on northern B.C. highways.

By July 22, the manhunt converged on Gillam, Man., near where a Toyota RAV4, believed by police to have been used by the fugitives, was found abandoned and torched. Over 15 days, Manitoba RCMP, military aircraft and dive crews scoured the forests and rivers looking for the two. The search was winding down by the August long weekend, but then a tip from a local tour guide led RCMP to a damaged rowboat on the Nelson River, and then to items linked to the fugitives on the shore. On Aug. 7, RCMP announced that they had found two bodies in the bush. The bodies were flown to Winnipeg for autopsies, which confirmed they were Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky and that they died by suicide.

Mini-doc: See how residents of Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation coped with the weeks-long manhunt in their backyards. The Globe and Mail

Timeline: How the search from B.C. to Manitoba unfolded


The suspects

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are shown in undated CCTV footage on a public alert issued by the RCMP.

RCMP/Reuters

If the bodies the Mounties found are confirmed to be Mr. Schmegelsky and Mr. McLeod, then there are questions investigators may never answer about their motives and how they came to perish in the Manitoba wilderness. But their family and classmates have given disturbing accounts about the things that motivated them: Their unstable home lives, threats of violence and suicide and fascination with Nazi and Soviet symbols. In a tearful interview with The Canadian Press, Mr. Schmegelsky’s father, Alan, said he suspected his son was in “very serious pain” and that “he’s on a suicide mission. He wants his pain to end.”

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Mr. Schmegelsky and Mr. McLeod have Facebook pages under their own names and both are linked to an account called “Illusive Gameing.” The banner image for the Illusive Gameing YouTube account features a modified Soviet flag, but its profile picture is the heraldic eagle of Hitler’s Germany. A user on Steam, a video-game network, provided photos sent by an account believed to be owned by Mr. Schmegelsky that show him in military fatigues. Another photo shows a swastika armband, while another features Mr. Schmegelsky in a gas mask. The photos were reportedly sent in the fall of 2018.

Photos from a social-media account believed to be owned by Mr. Schmegelsky show him in military fatigues and a gas mask, as well as a swastika and a knife inscribed 'blut und ehre,' German for 'blood and honour.'

Handout

The victims

Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler

Chynna Deese, 24, from Charlotte, N.C., and her boyfriend Lucas Fowler, 23, from Sydney, Australia.

RCMP/Reuters

Two tourists, a 24-year-old American and her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend, were found dead of gunshot wounds on July 15 near Liard Hot Springs, south of the B.C.-Yukon boundary. Family described them as being a happy couple who had been looking forward to a road-trip adventure together. Ms. Deese’s mother, Sheila, described Chynna as a “beautiful soul” who had travelled to 13 countries and met Mr. Fowler at a hostel in Europe. Mr. Fowler’s father, a police chief inspector in New South Wales, described their fate as “the worst-ever love story because we now have two young people who had everything ahead of them tragically murdered.”

Leonard Dyck

Leonard Dyck, 64.

RCMP handout

Near Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky’s ruined truck in the Dease Lake area, a driver found the body of a man with grey hair and a beard on July 19. Five days later, RCMP identified him as Leonard Dyck, 64, of Vancouver. He was a sessional lecturer at the University of British Columbia’s botany department, the university said in a statement. The Dyck family issued a statement saying they were heartbroken by their loss: “He was a loving husband and father. His death has created unthinkable grief and we are struggling to understand what has happened.”

Required reading

A ‘beautiful soul’: Mother of Chynna Deese discusses her daughter’s volunteering, travels around the world

‘Clutching at straws’: From B.C. fugitives to U.S. shootings, popular culture the usual suspect in search for answers

Searching for answers: Sense of unease lingers in B.C.’s isolated north as police hunt suspects

Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol moves from city to wilderness in response to manhunt

Past manhunts in Canada: A historical primer


Compiled by Globe staff

Based on reporting from Renata D’Aliesio, Melissa Tait, Jana G. Pruden, Andrea Woo, Mike Hager, Ian Bailey, Justin Ling, Kathryn Blaze Baum and The Canadian Press



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