Port Alberni suspects confessed to northern B.C. murders in recorded videos but showed no remorse: police

Port Alberni suspects confessed to northern B.C. murders in recorded videos but showed no remorse: police
WatchOn Friday, police released their findings of the investigation into the northern B.C. homicides in July.

RCMP say the two murder suspects from Port Alberni confessed to the three northern B.C. homicides in several videos taken before they shot themselves in a suicide pact.

The Mounties say 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, who was 19, expressed no remorse in the videos and did not explain their motives behind the killings that sparked a nationwide manhunt this summer. Police were also not able to determine a motive through the investigation and interviews with family and friends.

“Interviews of McLeod and Schmegelsky’s families, teachers and friends, seized evidence from search warrants and the six video recordings did not reveal their motivation for the murders,” the overview from RCMP released on Friday says.

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“If there was in fact a motive, it’s gone with the accused,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett told a news conference, adding the videos were “cold” and “matter of fact.'”

“Their attitude, frankly, from my observations was not consistent with someone who was responsible for the type of violent offences that they took responsibility for.”

The report on the investigation says police located a digital camera belonging to Dyck where the bodies of the two suspects were found in northern Manitoba.

The camera contained three still images and six videos, and in one of the videos, the two men say they plan to kill more people and expect to be dead in a week, before they state their plan to shoot themselves. The men confessed to the murders in a “cold manner.”

In the first 58-second video, the RCMP describe Schmegelsky as saying their plan is to march to Hudson Bay, hijack a boat and travel to Europe or Africa. In the next, which is 51 seconds, he says they have reached a river that is large and fast-moving and may have to commit suicide, to which McLeod agrees.

The next 32-second video shows Schmegelsky saying they have shaved in preparation for their own deaths and they now plan to kill more people and expect to be dead in a week, the RCMP said.

The fourth video is 19 seconds long and they say they will shoot themselves, while the next is just six seconds and appears to have been taken accidentally. The final 31-second video is what the two men describe as their “last will and testament,” and they express their wish to be cremated, the RCMP said.

Hackett said none of the videos are date stamped.

One of the still images shows Schmegelsky lying on his side posing with a SKS rifle, another is a blurred photo with a finger across the lens and the third shows McLeod from the chest up.

The Mounties also released a seven-page, double-sided overview of their investigation to media on Friday. The document provides a timeline and new details of the homicides, but does not draw any conclusions about motive.

Before their deaths, the men were charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia botany lecturer, and were also suspects in the deaths of American Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler, who were found dead on July 15 near Highway 97, south of Liard River Hot Springs.

The bodies of the couple were found near a van registered to Fowler and a search of the vehicle over the next two days turned up identification belonging to the pair.

Police found unspent and spent bullet casings with the headstamp “101” and “75” at the crime scene, and the seized ammunition was deemed to be 7.62 by 39-millimetre calibre.

An autopsy on July 19 confirmed that Fowler and Deese died of multiple gunshot wounds and it appears that the shooter or shooters stood behind the victims for at least some of the shots.

Also on July 19, a burned truck registered to McLeod was found about 60 kilometres south of Dease Lake. Dyck’s body was found about two kilometres away but was unidentified at that time and police released a composite sketch.

A search warrant of the truck located burnt rounds with the headstamp “101” and “75,” matching those found at the first crime scene.

On July 22, the RCMP received information that a witness had come forward and stated they knew McLeod and Schmegelsky and believed the boys may have been involved in the murders. The Mounties declined to provide any more information about the witness.

Later that day, Helen Dyck called the police and reported that she believed the composite sketch was her husband.

The RCMP publicly identified Schmegelsky and McLeod as suspects in the three murders the next day.

The manhunt for McLeod and Schmegelsky led to Gillam, Man., where Dyck’s Toyota Rav 4 was found burned. Officers converged on the area to begin what would be a two-week search.

Before the murders, two had told friends and family in Port Alberni they were heading to Whitehorse for work. They had two semi-automatic rifles, one purchased legally by McLeod at Cabela’s in Nanaimo on July 12, the same day they left Port Alberni. Police have been unable to determine where the second, older-style firearm, came from.

Between the dates of two homicides, police say the pair stalked a driver who had pulled over on the side of the highway near Whitehorse on July 17. A witness told police he had pulled off the road onto a pullout on the Alaska Highway to take a nap.  The witness said a truck with a camper drove past him then a man got out holding a long gun. The man then started moving toward the witness using a “hunting stance” and the truck started driving slowly toward the witness. The witness managed to drive away, police said. The witness reported the incident to police on July 21.

The manhunt for McLeod and Schmegelsky led to Gillam, Man., where Dyck’s Toyota Rav 4 was found burned. Officers converged on the area to begin what would be a two-week search.

On Aug. 1, McLeod’s backpack was found containing a full box of ammunition, his wallet and clothing. On Aug. 7, the suspects’ bodies were found with two firearms, one of which was the same gun purchased at the Nanaimo store.

RCMP say McLeod shot Schmegelsky before shooting himself in a suicide pact, and two guns found near their bodies were the same firearms used in the killing of Deese, Fowler and Dyck.

Police said it appeared the pair decided to kill themselves after getting trapped in an area of the woods they couldn’t escape from. RCMP also said they couldn’t determine if the killings were planned or not, but there was no clear leader of the two. Police described the pair in a “partnership.”

The RCMP said its Behavioural Analysis Unit believes the videos may inspire copycat killers and that releasing them would be seen as disrespectful to the victims and their families. Therefore, police are not releasing the videos.

Based on the evidence, police say no other suspects are responsible for the three homicides.

Police have faced questions about their decisions on which information to release and when.

They initially described Fowler and Deese’s deaths as “suspicious,” and did not call them a double homicide until four days later, the same day Dyck’s body was found.

However, Hackett responded that crime scenes in remote areas are difficult to examine. Sometimes it will take days until police can determine what has happened and that’s just a “normal way of doing police work,'” he said.

In a statement provided through the RCMP, the Deese family said “Chynna was a ray of sunshine, and for her to be taken has made the world feel a bit darker.'”

“The impact of such horrendous crimes was felt rippling throughout many communities and we would like to express sincere gratitude to the general public for their empathy and aid during the investigation and manhunt.'”

It also thanks the police for “their tireless efforts as a piece of justice has been served in knowing the conclusion of this case.”

With files from Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


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