Two young murder suspects found dead after an extensive manhunt apparently killed themselves, police in Canada said Monday.
Autopsies confirmed the bodies found last Wednesday in northern Manitoba are those of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“The RCMP can also confirm that the two died in what appears to be suicides by gunfire. While both individuals were deceased for a number of days before they were found, the exact time and date of their deaths are not known,” the law enforcement agency said in a statement. “However, there are strong indications that they had been alive for a few days since last seen in July and during the extensive search efforts in the Gillam area.”
Authorities said next of kin have been notified and offered support.
Two firearms were found with the teens and forensic analysis is underway to confirm whether they are connected to the three British Columbia homicides, the RCMP said.
The search gripped the world for weeks after the suspects allegedly killed a North Carolina woman and her Australian boyfriend.
Chynna Deese, 24, and her boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, 23, were found shot dead on a remote highway in northern British Columbia on July 15.
As police searched for clues to the killers’ whereabouts and panicked residents shuttered their homes, the body of University of British Columbia professor Leonard Dyck was discovered four days later in northern British Columbia, a few hundred miles away from the first crime scene.
A burned-out camper believed to have been used by the two suspects was found a mile from Dyck’s body. Investigators believe the teens killed all three victims, and police scoured rugged terrain for clues to where they might be hiding.
By late July, authorities were investigating signs suggesting the teens were in northern Manitoba, at least a two-day drive east of the sites of the British Columbia killings. Police urged residents near Manitoba’s Nelson River to remain inside, lock their doors and report anything suspicious.
But last Wednesday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it believed the suspects’ bodies were found in northern Manitoba.
Authorities had been searching the area for weeks after a Toyota RAV4 that authorities believe the teens stole from Dyck was found on fire and discarded July 22 outside Gillam, a small Manitoba town situated along Nelson River and Stephens Lake.
The teens’ bodies were found in “dense brush” about 5 miles from where the burned-out vehicle was located, said Jane MacLatchy, assistant commissioner of the Manitoba RCMP.
Though police already were searching areas near the burned RAV4, they said they narrowed the search even further on August 2 when they found items of interest near the Nelson River.
Police first said they found a damaged aluminum boat along the river that day. Later, they said they’d separately found “items directly linked to the suspects” that same day on the shoreline.
Police haven’t said whether the boat is connected to the teens, and they haven’t said what those other items were.
The teens’ bodies were found within a kilometer from where the unspecified items were discovered, MacLatchy said.
The investigation is not closed even though authorities believe the suspects were the killers, said Kevin Hackett, the RCMP assistant commissioner in British Columbia.
Investigators, for instance, still are trying to determine a motive — and that will be difficult, Hackett said.
“The examination of the area where (their bodies) were located … is still being dealt with and searched. So there may be additional items that could help in that regard — identifying a motive, etc. — but we don’t have that information yet,” he said.
But police say they are sure the killings are connected, and they have nothing to indicate anyone else was involved.
“There was significant evidence that linked our suspects to both crime scenes,” Hackett said last week.