Skip to main content

Hello, and all the best of the season.

James and I will be taking a break over the holidays and this newsletter will return Jan. 11.

This summer’s most disturbing tale involved the police pursuit across much of northern Canada for two Vancouver Island teens suspected of killing three motorists along British Columbia’s remote highways.

It ended in a definitive way, with the discovery of the bodies of the two suspects, Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, a discovery that but for luck, a raven and a Cree trapper could easily have not been made.

In September, police delivered what they promised would be a fulsome explanation of their investigation. They revealed the pair had recorded themselves on video confessing to the killings. In one video, the pair described a wild plan to hijack a boat and head to Europe or Africa.

What they didn’t describe was a reason for the murders.

A lawyer for The Globe and Mail and other media organizations spent months involved in a court application to gain access to the documents police must file with a court as they seek search warrants. Sometimes, the information-to-obtain documents reveal a little more about police theories of a case.

These ITOs offered many details. As The Globe reported Friday, the documents show clearly the two teens headed out from Port Alberni prepared for something other than the job search they told family and friends they were embarking upon.

The documents show that just a few hours after leaving home, Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky pulled up to an outdoor recreation store at a strip mall in Nanaimo, and walked straight to the firearm section. They walked out after purchasing a rifle and ammunition, Mr. Schmegelsky trailing behind his friend in surveillance video.

In total that day, the pair bought two rifles and 770 rounds of ammunition.

The next day, Mr. McLeod sent a text to his girlfriend: “Seriously sorry but I’m not coming back."

Within days, three people would be dead. A fourth man has been left to wonder how close he came to a similar fate: The newly released documents detail how an Alaska resident who pulled to the side of the road to nap instead found himself fleeing after seeing a man holding a long gun creep toward him.

Mr. Schmegelsky’s father, Al, continues to maintain his son did not set out to kill. He told reporter Andrea Woo that Bryer had taken all his possessions with him and that he and his son had exchanged text messages the morning Bryer left, talking about contributing to the younger Schmegelsky’s savings plan and his coming birthday.

“He took his suit. He wanted to feel good, he wanted to look good,” the father said in an interview.

But the documents outline the grizzly discovery of the bodies and hint at the brutality of the killings. Any question about whether the pair had intended to kill or whether their flight was the result of a violent response to unexpected circumstances is dispelled by the documents.

Mr. Schmegelsky’s autopsy report shows he died after being shot by his friend, who then killed himself.

In the videos left behind, the pair show no remorse and offer no reason why. The court record does not fill in that blank either.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here. This is a new project and we’ll be experimenting as we go, so let us know what you think.

Around the West:

ALBERTA WAR ROOM: Alberta’s energy war room – now rebranded as the Canadian Energy Centre – has been up and running for more than a week now. The result so far has been a mix of feature articles and opinion pieces on a site that is attempting to mimic traditional news media. James Keller looked at what the war room has been up to and the issues that it raises. Meanwhile, the centre had an embarrassing start that included having to change its logo, which appeared to be lifted from a U.S. software company.

CANNABIS DISPENSARIES: The RCMP have laid money laundering charges against five people connected to an Edmonton-based company that allegedly processed online payments for illegal cannabis dispensaries. The bust underscores how governments and the industry have struggled to lure consumers away from the black market, where online sales have made it easier than ever for illicit stores to operate.

CAR SHARING: Share Now, the company formerly known as Car2Go, is shutting down next year, which means the company’s ubiquitous blue and white Smart cars will be pulling out of Vancouver and Montreal. The company ended service in Calgary and several other North American cities earlier in the fall, citing financial pressures in an increasingly competitive transportation sector.

CARBON TAX: Albertans will receive the largest carbon-tax rebate next year out of the four provinces that will be paying the federal tax, which will be imposed on Alberta on Jan. 1. The federal government has confirmed Albertans will receive $888 for a family of four. Residents of three other provinces – Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan – are able to claim $448, $486 and $809

VIDEO GAMES: A B.C.-based study is examining whether intensive video-game playing leads to gambling addiction. Researchers assessed 165 gamers for more than a year and are now analyzing the results. David Horricks, who oversees the province’s policies on gambling, says the goal is to determine whether more counselling support is needed for video-game players.

PROPERTY TAXES: Vancouver’s city council has approved a property-tax increase of seven per cent, after a debate in which right-of-centre councillors were outvoted by a coalition who wanted the extra money for climate change and affordable housing.

THE EYEGLASS PROJECT: A volunteer-run program called The Eyeglass Project is providing glasses to people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.

BABY ON BOARD: A driver with Alberta’s Red Arrow bus service is being heralded for delivering a baby along his route. Shawn Coulter was about to depart from a stop at the University of Lethbridge when a passenger alerted him to the emergency. “I’ve delivered many passengers to where they need to go in my lifetime, but never a baby," he said.


Kelly Cryderman on the Conservative Party leadership race: “Even more than social issues, the thorniest question for the next Conservative leader, and the party, will be how to develop a climate-change policy that’s appealing to a broad range of Canadian voters but still acceptable to the base.”

Gary Mason on Jason Kenney’s popularity: “But the Premier is finding that while it’s one thing to campaign against something, it’s another to give people a significantly better alternative. Because when you don’t, voters feel betrayed, they feel as if they’ve been had.”

Adrienne Tanner on a B.C. mayor’s call to institutionalize the addicted: “Community supports promised by the provincial government when the hospitals and institutions were shuttered never materialized and without them, severely mentally ill people are far more likely to end up on the street. But that’s no reason to return to a flawed model, particularly when we have an example of a recent community-based housing and support program that proved remarkably effective."

Rita Trichur on tackling interprovincial trade barriers: “Given recent strides by Alberta and Manitoba to lift some internal trade restrictions on their own, Ms. Freeland would be wise to tap Mr. Kenney and Mr. Pallister as her emissaries to mediate with holdouts.”

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe