Canada is a vast country, but even its rugged wilderness offers limited places for fugitives to hide.
In northern Manitoba, police are zeroing in on the area where they believe two men wanted for murder in B.C. are hiding. There is one road into and out of the boggy, buggy and densely-forested place where Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are believed to be hiding, and police have it blocked.
McLeod are Schmegelsky are wanted in connection with the murders of two tourists and were charged on July 23 with the murder of retired botanist Leonard Dyck. Dyck’s body was found in northern B.C. on July 19, four days after American Chynna Deese, 24, and her boyfriend, Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, were found dead near Liard Hot Springs, B.C.
The two men were originally reported missing and considered possible victims along with Deese, Fowler and Dyck when a red pickup truck they’d been travelling in was found burnt-out, two kilometres from the location of Dyck’s body.
After they were spotted on July 21 in Meadow Lake, Sask., however, the RCMP announced named them as suspects in the three northern B.C. deaths.
On July 22, the two were spotted again in the small Manitoba town of Gilliam, and another vehicle police believe is linked to them was later found abandoned near Fox Lake Cree Nation, 55 kilometres north of Gilliam.
Due to limited routes in and out of the area, the RCMP believe the pair are still there. Here is some of what we know about them:
A close pair
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Schmegelsky’s father Alan Schmegelsky said the two teens have been close friends since they met in elementary school.
"They hung out all the time," he said, “always at Kam’s place, or they had a few other close friends and they’d have campouts and all that.”
In an earlier interview, he said the two have been practicing survivalism together for the past several years.
Violent and disturbing comments
In an interview with Global News, a former classmate of Schmegelsky’s said that while they were attending school together in Port Alberni, B.C., Schmegelsky developed a reputation for making violent, threatening and disturbing comments.
Madison Hempstead said Schmegelsky repeatedly told her of the ways in which he wanted to kill her and her friends, and then himself.
According to Global, other students at the school recounted similar interactions with Schmegelsky, who was described as having few friends.
‘YouTube and video games’
Alan Schmegelsky told The Canadian Press his son never learned to ride a bicycle and didn’t have many friends, and instead spent much of his time indoors on his computer.
“He was very introverted and he was heavy into video games,” he said, adding that the teen played strategy war strategy games and watched YouTube videos on a high-performance, custom-made computer.
"His influences haven't been good,” he said. “His influences have been YouTube and video games."
Global News reported on July 25 that the RCMP are investigating photos allegedly posted to online accounts linked to the two young men.
The photos show Schmegelsky’s Nazi paraphernalia, including a swastika arm band and a knife inscribed with “blut und ehre”—German for “blood and honour”—and Schmegelsky wearing an army uniform and a gas mask.
The Globe and Mail reports Schmegelsky was known to praise Hitler and Nazi Germany in conversations with other people in online gaming communities.
A ‘suicide mission’
Alan Schmegelsky told The Canadian Press he believes the two teens are on a suicide mission that will likely end with both of them dead.
“He’s going to be dead today or tomorrow,” he said. “They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory. Trust me on this. That’s what they’re going to do.”
He described the teen as being in “very serious pain” and theorized that McLeod felt the same way. That pain, he guessed, is what compelled the teens to embark on an alleged killing spree that has left three people dead.
With files from Global News and The Canadian Press