A Royal Canadian Air Force transport aircraft has arrived in Gillam Manitoba, to help in the search for two suspected killers from Port Alberni.
The CC-130H Hercules is from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Winnipeg, and will help with an aerial search.
The Department of National Defence says an RCMP officer will be on board the aircraft to direct the search, and that the efforts remain led by RCMP.
Police also said in addition to canvasing , they are thoroughly searching every abandoned home in the area – over 100 have been cleared so far.
“Not only are our officers combing through kilometers of dense northern forest, they’re also challenged with searching & clearing large abandoned buildings,” they posted to social media.
Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, 64, whose body was found July 19 near the pair’s burned-out truck in northwestern B.C.
They are also suspects in the death of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, found four days earlier along a highway more than 450 kilometres from where Dyck was discovered.
The two fled B.C. and were spotted heading east, before their stolen Rav-4 was found burned out near the remote town on July 22. Now RCMP are on an extensive search in the dense wilderness and small community.
On Friday, RCMP said McLeod and Schmegelsky may have changed their appearance and it’s possible that someone may not have been aware of who they were and provided assistance — helping them potentially escape the town.
They say that person could be hesitant to come forward.
“I want to reiterate the importance of contacting police immediately,” RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Julie Courchaine said during a news conference on Friday.
A video was also released showing the two in the Meadow Lake Co-op on July 21.
That same day, Cold Lake RCMP say at 9:30 a.m. a resident came across a vehicle stuck on a trail behind their residence. Two Younger males were seen outside of the Toyota Rav-4.
The resident help them get unstuck, and the suspects continued on their way. The resident later reported it to police after seeing the pair identified on social media.
There have been no confirmed sightings since then.
Police will also be conducting door-to-door canvases in Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation over the next 72 hours to get tips and information. RCMP requested aircraft support from the Canadian Armed Forces on Friday.
Officers from the western provinces and Ontario are also searching abandoned buildings.
“Residents in these areas can be assured that we are activating all necessary resources to protect public and officer safety,” Courchaine said.
Courchaine also said the man bearing a resemblance to McLeod shown in a photo posing with a copy of Thursday’s Winnipeg Sun, is not the alleged killer. Courchaine said they spoke to the man and discovered the photo was unintentionally shared.
Anyone who sees information on social media is asked to contact police first and not share online rumours.
“The spreading of false information in communities across Manitoba has created fear and panic,” Courchaine said.
With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press