Local constable Albert Saunders (pictured) told DailyMail.com how he stopped Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky on July 22, in Split Lake, northern Manitoba, but let them go
A police officer described to DailyMailTV how he stopped – but then let go – the two alleged teen serial killers because news of their triple murder spree had not reached his small town in Manitoba, Canada.
Local constable Albert Saunders stopped teenagers Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and searched their 2011 gray Toyota RAV4, after they blew through a police checkpoint at Split Lake, northern Manitoba on July 22.
In an exclusive interview, Saunders said, ‘I didn’t really know those guys were on the run, that’s why I didn’t think much about it at first, until after they posted the pictures of them the next day,’ Saunders said.
The pair had allegedly gone on a murder rampage through British Columbia, 1,800 miles from where Saunders is based.
But Royal Canadian Mounted Police only warned local law enforcement to be on the lookout for McLeod and Schmegelsky, both of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, on July 23 – the day after Saunders spotted them.
Saunders described how he is now wracked with guilt after discovering he could have stopped the alleged serial killers in their tracks.
‘I feel I could have done something more, like I should have done something earlier,’ he said.
Saunders said the teens drove past him and his partner constable Morgan Spence at a traffic checkpoint in the RAV4, which had not yet been reported stolen from murder victim Leonard Dyck.
Saunders said,’They slowed down and then they drove by. I had the lights on and I was standing outside the truck. Me and my partner jumped in the truck and we went to stop them.’
Saunders said the boys saw the police in pursuit and pulled over.
He said, ‘They turned off their engine, and I asked them why didn’t they stop, they were supposed to stop when the lights are on.
The manhunt for Kam McLeod, 19, (left) and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, (right), of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has now shifted to the tiny village of York Landing in Manitoba
‘They were just telling me ‘sorry’. I asked them where they came from. ‘Vancouver’ they told me. They looked scared.
‘I spoke to the one with the mustache, Kam McLeod. He just kept saying, ‘Sorry’. They didn’t say where they were going.’
Saunders said he and his partner then inspected the vehicle.
‘I told them I was going to do a quick search, and then I searched up,’ Saunders said. ‘They kept looking at each other. There was a couple of boxes in the back.’
Saunders only found survival gear and maps when he searched the car. He did not see any weaponry.
Saunders said, ‘I told them to stop next time there’s a situation like this, and they said ‘yep’ and ‘sorry’, and they went. They pulled into town, got some gas, then went. They were heading up towards Gillam.’
They did head to Gillam, a small town 100 miles east of Split Lake. The stolen RAV4 was discovered burnt out there on July 23.
As officers at the Split Lake traffic stop are unarmed and have no bullet-proof vests, Saunders said he felt he also had a close brush with death that day.
‘After I found out who they were I realized I could have got shot, or something could have happened to us. I was thinking about it a lot after I found out,’ he said.
The bodies of Lucas Fowler, 24, and Chynna Deese, 23, (pictured) were found in Liard Hot Springs, northern British Columbia on April 15
They also allegedly murdered Vancouver botanist Leonard Dyck, 64, in Dease Lake, British Columbia, before stealing his gray 2011 Toyota RAV4. It was this SUV that Constable Saunders stopped the men in on July 22. At the time it had not been reported stolen
This map plots the teenagers’ movements over the last few days and where the murders took place across Canada
Constable Saunder’s cousin, Split Lake town councilor Robert Spence, described how the officers found nothing in the alleged killers’ car.
He told DailyMailTV, ‘Morgan was talking to the thinner one, Schmegelsky. He was quiet. Morgan said that they’d have to take a look around, check their vehicle for alcohol or drugs.
‘But looking at the vehicle that they were driving in, the constable said all that was in there was survival gear, blankets and a lot of maps.
‘They said that they were just going to come into the community, fuel up and head back out.’
Councillor Spence added that he believed the officers, unaware of the teens’ alleged murder spree, were lucky to walk away with their lives.
‘They were pretty freaked out about it. They said that anything could have happened, especially two constables that weren’t equipped or supplied with personal protective gear,’ he told DailyMailTV.
‘[Spence and Saunders were] dressed just like you and I, just regular clothes, no uniforms, no guns, no pepper spray, no batons, no nothing,’ he added.
‘All they do is stop the vehicle traffic coming into the community checking for alcohol and drugs. They were pretty damn lucky they didn’t get shot or killed for stopping those two individuals.’
At a press conference in Surrey, British Columbia on July 23 – the day after Saunders stopped the teens – Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesperson Sergeant Janelle Shoihet named McLeod and Schmegelsky as suspects in three murders
McLeod and Schmegelsky are accused of killing Chynna Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and her Australian boyfriend, 23-year-old Lucas Fowler in Liard Hot Springs, northern British Columbia.
They also allegedly murdered Vancouver botanist Dyck, 64, in Dease Lake, British Columbia, before stealing his car.
Deese and Fowler’s bodies were found on July 15, Dyck’s was found on July 19.
After discovering their burnt car in Gillam, police have shifted their search for the pair to York Landing, a small town with a population of 443, following reports the pair were spotted foraging for food at a landfill.
RCMP issued a tweet saying “it is critical” that residents in York Landing “stay indoors as much as possible with their doors locked.”