Manitoba RCMP say they are exploring the possibility that the two Port Alberni men wanted for murder in northern British Columbia inadvertently received assistance in leaving the Gillam area.
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.
The bodies of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, were found four days earlier along a highway more than 450 kilometres from where Dyck was discovered.
RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine said Wednesday there were two confirmed sightings of the teens before an SUV police believe they had used to drive to Gillam was found burned out on Monday. They had previously been spotted in Meadow Lake on Sunday before the search in northern Manitoba.
RCMP have released video surveillance of the suspects at 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.
On Friday, Courchaine said McLeod and Schmegelsky may have changed their appearance and its possible that someone may not have been aware of who they were providing assistance to, and may now be hesitant to come forward.
“I want to reiterate the importance of contacting police immediately,” Courchaine said during a news conference on Friday.
Manitoba RCMP are holding a press conference in Winnipeg at 3 p.m. to provide an update on the search for the two suspects wanted in connection with three B.C. homicides, last seen near Gillam, Man.
Posted by CBC Manitoba on Friday, July 26, 2019
“It is critical that all Canadians remain vigilant for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky. If they are spotted, do not approach, call 911 or your local police immediately.”
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 have requested aircraft support from the Canadian Armed Forces, who are going to the area.
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 The Canadian Press