By Moira Warburton
(Reuters) – Canadian police said on Tuesday they found “several items directly linked” to two teenage boys charged with killing a university lecturer and suspected in the murders of two tourists.
The pair, Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, both of Port Alberni, British Columbia, have been on the run for nearly three weeks with no confirmed sightings since July 22.
The evidence, details of which were not revealed, was found on the banks of the Nelson River, 9 km (5.59 miles) along the shore near Gillam, Manitoba, the tiny northern community that was the centre of the search last week, before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) scaled back the manhunt.
On Sunday, RCMP sent dive teams into the Nelson River, which is wide, fast-flowing and powers several hydro-electric dams, as part of the search for McLeod and Schmegelsky. That search proved futile.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were first reported as missing on July 19 after their Dodge pickup truck was found in flames near Dease Lake, British Columbia, 2 km (1.24 miles) from where a body – later identified as university lecturer Leonard Dyck, 64 – was found.
Days later the RCMP said the pair was being considered as suspects in the July 15 murders of Chynna Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lucas Fowler, 23, of Sydney, Australia, which took place 500 km (310.69 miles) away from where Dyck was found, near Liard Hot Spring.
Schmegelsky and McLeod were charged on July 24 with the murder of Dyck.
Northern communities across Canada have since been on edge as sightings of the two teens occurred first in Saskatchewan, and then in Gillam, Manitoba, 3,000 km (1864.11 miles) away from the sites of the murders, where a grey Toyota RAV4 they were known to have been driving was found in flames on a highway just outside of the town.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Dan Grebler)