BC RCMP assistant commissioner Kevin Hackett said it will be extremely difficult to ascertain the motive in the three northern B.C. homicides following the discovery of the two bodies believed to be the murder suspects in northern Manitoba.
“Obviously we will not have the opportunity to speak with these individuals,” Hackett said.
Hackett said Wednesday the investigation into the three homicides will continue and the examination of the area where the bodies were found is still being searched.
“We still need to ensure that our investigative findings, whether its statements, evidentiary timelines, physical or digital evidence continues to confirm our investigative theory and eliminates any other possibilities or suspects,” Hackett said.
Manitoba RCMP assistant commissioner Jane MacLatchy said earlier in the day that the bodies were discovered Wednesday morning near the shoreline of the Nelson River, within a kilometre from where several items linked to the two young men were found last week.
Autopsies will be done in Winnipeg to confirm the identities.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, from Port Alberni, B.C., were facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of Leonard Dyck, a university lecturer from Vancouver.
Dyck’s body was discovered along a highway pullout two kilometres south of Dease Lake, B.C., on July 19. Hackett said out of respect to the family, RCMP will not be releasing details about Dyck’s fatal injuries.
The RCMP have said McLeod and Schmegelsky were also suspects in the shooting deaths of American tourist Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler. Their bodies were found along a highway near Liard Hot Springs, B.C., on July 15.
Hackett said there is “significant evidence” that links the two crime scenes together.
Police initially treated McLeod and Schmegelsky as missing persons when their charred vehicle was found not far from Dyck’s body. The pair had told family and friends they were leaving their home of Port Alberni, B.C. to find work.
The manhunt for the pair stretched across the Prairies into northern Manitoba when a second burned-out vehicle they were travelling in was found July 22 near the town of Gillam.
Helicopters and military aircraft aided in searching the surrounding wilderness. MacLatchy said the discovery of the items helped direct the search to a specific area, and the bodies were found nearby – about eight kilometres from where that vehicle, a Toyota RAV4, was located.
Hackett said he is confident there is no further risk to the public.
He also confirmed the families of Dyck, Deese and Fowler have been notified about the latest news.
“RCMP will continue to offer support to them, understanding that the traumatic losses they have gone through do not end with the deaths of these men who we believe to be our suspects,” Hackett said.
“We will also continue to offer support to the Port Alberni families of the two men as they deal with these difficult developments,” Hackett said.
Hackett said media coverage and public engagement led to over 1,000 tips.
At Schmegelsky’s grandmother’s house there is a note that reflects the anger his family is feeling.
Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said she is planning to reach out to the family to express her condolences and ensure counselling is available to those who need it.
“As a community we are incrediblty sadddened by this news. This is not the outcome we had been hoping for and I mean there’s just so much tragedy that has happened here. It’s just awful.There’s no relief here. It’s a horrible, horrible outcome. No matter how you look at it. There’s just so many people affected,” Minions said.
With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press