Autopsies confirm identities of BC murder suspects found dead in northern Manitoba
The R.C.M.P. say two Port Alberni men who led police on a cross-Canada manhunt died by what appears to be suicide by gunfire.
Police say Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod appeared to be dead for a number of days before their bodies were found in northern Manitoba but the exact time of their deaths isn't known.
However, police say in a statement that there were strong indications that the teens had been alive for a few days since they were last seen in July and during the extensive search efforts in the Gillam area.
Police say two firearms were located with the dead men and forensic analysis is underway to "definitively confirm'' that the weapons are connected with the northern B.C. homicide investigations.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia botany lecturer, whose body was found July 19th at a roadside pullout along Highway 37 south of Dease Lake.
They were also suspects in the deaths of American Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler, who had been shot to death near Liard Hot Springs in northeastern B.C. several days earlier.
The RCMP say once its review has been completed in the next few weeks it will provide the families with an update and then will release the information publicly.
Here's a timeline of events:
July 15 _ The bodies of a man and a woman are found near a blue van on the Alaska Highway, also known as Highway 97, near Liard Hot Springs, B.C.
July 17 _ The RCMP say the deaths are suspicious.
July 18 _ The RCMP announce Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his 24-year-old American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, are homicide victims. Meanwhile, in Jade City, B.C., Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are spotted in a store where they stopped for free coffee. Jade City is about 350 kilometres from where the two bodies were found.
July 19 _ Police announce the body of a man has been found two kilometres from a burned-out truck belonging to McLeod and Schmegelsky near Dease Lake. The two teens are missing. Dease Lake is about 470 kilometres from the first crime scene.
July 21 _ McLeod and Schmegelsky are spotted in Cold Lake, Alta., where a local resident, not knowing who they are, helps them free a stuck Toyota Rav 4 they are driving. The are also captured on security camera footage at a store in Meadow Lake, Sask.
July 22 _ The Mounties say Fowler and Deese were shot. They release composite sketches of a man seen speaking with the couple on the highway where they were found dead and a sketch of the unidentified man found dead near the burned truck. Fowler's father, an Australian police inspector, pleads for public help in the investigation. At the same time, band constables with Tataskweyak Cree Nation at Split Lake in northern Manitoba talk with McLeod and Schmegelsky at a checkstop, unaware of who they are. The constables see camping gear and maps in their vehicle.
July 23 _ The RCMP announce Schmegelsky and McLeod are suspects in the three deaths. They release photos of the men and a 2011 grey Toyota Rav 4 they may have been driving. Fox Lake Cree Nation says a burned-out vehicle is found near Gillam, Man., about 170 kilometres east of Split Lake. Police search that area.
July 24 _ The RCMP confirm the burned-out vehicle near Gillam is the Toyota Rav 4 the suspects are believed to have been driving. The third victim is identified as 64-year-old Leonard Dyck of Vancouver. He was a lecturer in the University of British Columbia's botany department.
July 25 _ Manitoba Mounties confirm two sightings of Schmegelsky and McLeod in the Gillam area. RCMP say the sightings, along with no reports of stolen vehicles, lead investigators to believe the suspects are still in the region. They say they are investigating a photograph of Nazi paraphernalia allegedly sent by Schmegelsky to another user on a video game network. Schmegelsky is also pictured in military fatigues brandishing an airsoft rifle and wearing a gas mask.
July 28 _ The RCMP descend on York Landing, an isolated community southwest of Gillam, after it's reported the suspects were seen at the local dump.
July 29 _ The RCMP are unable to confirm the sighting and pull back to Gillam.
July 31 _ Police announce they have done everything they can and are scaling back the search, although not ending it.
Aug. 2 _ The RCMP say they found a damaged rowboat on the Nelson River.
Aug. 4 _ An RCMP dive team conducts underwater search ``of significant areas of interest.''
Aug. 6 _ The RCMP say they have found several items linked to Schmegelsky and McLeod on the shore of the Nelson River in northern Manitoba. The Mounties would not disclose what the items are but say they were found nine kilometres from the vehicle they were driving.
Aug. 7 _ Police say they believe they have found the bodies of McLeod and Schmegelsky in dense brush in northern Manitoba. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said the bodies were found earlier in the morning near the shoreline of the Nelson River, within a kilometre of where several items linked to the two suspects were found. Autopsies are scheduled to confirm their identities.
Aug. 12 _ The RCMP say autopsy results indicate the men died by what appears to be suicide by gunfire. Police say Schmegelsky and McLeod appeared to have been dead for a number of days before their bodies were found but the exact time of their deaths isn't known.
[The Canadian Press]