By Moira Warburton
(Reuters) – Two teenage Canadian fugitives who were the target of a nationwide manhunt took their own lives with gunshots, police said on Monday following the completion of an autopsy report.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were suspected of murdering three people in northern British Columbia. Their bodies were found by police on Aug. 7 near Gillam, Manitoba, after a two-week search.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the autopsy could not determine how long McLeod and Schmegelsky had been dead. But there were “strong indications” they were alive for at least a few days after the last sighting of them on July 22, and during the intensive search in the Gillam area.
The two were charged with second-degree murder in July of Leonard Dyck, 64, a botany lecturer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. They were also suspects in the murders of Chynna Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lucas Fowler, 23, from Sydney, Australia.
RCMP said two firearms were found alongside McLeod and Schmegelsky’s bodies, and that forensic analysis was underway to determine whether the weapons were connected to the murders of Deese, Fowler and Dyck.
Police have declined to disclose how Dyck died, but said Fowler and Deese were shot.
“There was a one in a million chance that such tragedy would befall upon my family, but Chynna was a once in a lifetime soul,” Deese’s sister, Kennedy Deese, said in a Facebook post on her personal page.
Al Schmegelsky, the father of Bryer, said in a weekend interview with Australia’s 60 Minutes that he was “so sorry for what’s happened.”
Addressing the families of Deese, Fowler and Dyck, he said that having just lost his son, “I know exactly how you feel.”
Kennedy Deese pushed back on this.
“You cannot relate to us, as we had no doings in the cause of your pain, when you’ve played a part in the cause of our pain,” she said in the Facebook post. “But we still forgive you and have mercy.”
The RCMP said it was reviewing “all investigative findings to date” and hoped to complete the review and publicly announce more details “within the next few weeks.”
(Reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Tom Brown)