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Family and friends gather for memorial of American backpacker murdered in Canada

A memorial was held on Saturday for the young woman from North Carolina who was killed along with her boyfriend – allegedly by two Canadian teens who are now the subject of a nationwide manhunt north of the border.

Friends and relatives gathered at New City Church in Charlotte on Saturday to remember Chynna Deese.

Deese, 24, and her Australian boyfriend, 23-year-old Lucas Fowler, were found dead along a highway in western Canada last week.

A third victim who was also found dead in western Canada has been identified as Leonard Dyck, 64, of Vancouver. 

Mourners attend a memorial on Saturday for Chynna Deese in Charlotte, North Carolina

Deese, 24, and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, were found dead alongside a highway in western Canada last week

Deese, 24, and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, were found dead alongside a highway in western Canada last week

Mourners are seen leaving the memorial service at New City Church in Charlotte on Saturday

Mourners are seen leaving the memorial service at New City Church in Charlotte on Saturday

Deese’s family did not provide any details about the memorial or the planned funeral, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Canadian police have suggested well-meaning locals could have inadvertently helped disguise the two teenage murder suspects.

Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, have been on the run since July 15 when the three bodies were found in British Columbia. 

They are also accused of murdering University of British Columbia botanist Dyck in BC before driving more than 3,000km east to the province of Manitoba. 

The friends have been seen twice in the extremely remote town of Gillam at the start of the week and have since gone to ground, ditching the car they were travelling in and burning it. 

With one road leading into the town and no confirmed sightings of the duo outside of Gillam the Royal Canadian Mounted Police still believe the suspects remain in the area. 

Fowler (left) and Deese are seen above posing for a selfie. Their bodies were discovered along the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs, Canada on July 15

Fowler (left) and Deese are seen above posing for a selfie. Their bodies were discovered along the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs, Canada on July 15

Leonard Dyck, a botanist at the University of British Columbia, was also killed

Leonard Dyck, a botanist at the University of British Columbia, was also killed

An undated handout photo made available by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) shows Bryer Schmegelsky (right), 18, and Kam McLeod (left), 19, who have been named by authorities as suspects

An undated handout photo made available by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) shows Bryer Schmegelsky (right), 18, and Kam McLeod (left), 19, who have been named by authorities as suspects

But RCMP Corporal Julie Courchaine said they are open to the possibility the duo may have used disguises or someone inadvertently helped them leave.

‘Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky may have changed their appearance,’ she told reporters on Friday.

‘It is possible that someone may not have been aware of who they were, providing assistance to and may now be hesitant to come forward. 

‘I want to reiterate the importance of contacting police immediately.’ 

North District Rocky Mountain Police Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said locals may have been unaware when potentially assisting the teenage suspects.

‘We are exploring all possibilities at this point in the investigation to determine perhaps if somebody may have been travelling in the area and may have picked them up, not realizing who they were,’ she told Nine’s Today. 

‘Certainly on Monday we had not yet confirmed they were suspects here in British Columbia in relation to those three homicides and it wasn’t until Tuesday morning until we made the very public plea for information and named them as suspects.

‘There may be a possibility that people didn’t know that Kam and Bryer Are wanted and we’re certainly looking into that as a possibility given that we haven’t yet located them.’

To help generate public leads the RCMP released security video of McLeod and Schmegelsky walking through a hardware store in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan on Sunday July 21.

The footage has sparked speculation the duo were preparing to live off the wilderness for weeks, as police continue to scour the harsh landscape in the northwest pocket of Manitoba.  

Police are now also preparing to go door to door to ask residents for information. 

Still on the run: Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are being hunted by Canadian police

Still on the run: Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are being hunted by Canadian police 

To help generate public leads the RCMP released new security footage of McLeod and Schmegelsky walking through a supply store in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan on Sunday July 21

To help generate public leads the RCMP released new security footage of McLeod and Schmegelsky walking through a supply store in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan on Sunday July 21

‘Over the next 72 hours investigators will conduct door-to-door canvases in the town of Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation in hopes of generating new tips and information,’ Corporal Courchaine said.

‘Residents in these areas can be assured that we are activating all necessary resources to protect the public and officer safety.’

Gillam has a population of just 1,265 which is made up mostly by the employees of a local hydro dam and their families. There is only one road leading into it and the nearest town is about 55km away.

Police have established road blocks but the boys are not thought to have stolen another car, leading police to believe they are travelling on foot. 

It is unclear what kind of supplies they have, if any, and where they are taking shelter. 

Residents who say the town is surrounded by abandoned cabins now fear they may try to break into one of those, if not their own homes.

Police are searching all of the abandoned buildings that they encounter. Cpl. Cochraine said the land was ‘dense’ and ‘tough’, even for the officers.

Beyond the town, however, there is not much in the way of shelter. 

‘There’s not a lot of shelter out there. You could pick a direction and walk in and hope to bump into something,’ Gillam Deputy Mayor John MacDonald said, adding: ‘It can get pretty trying to survive out there without good supplies. 

‘None of us would want to be put in that situation.’

To try to narrow down their search, they are using drones and are likely employing infrared technology to scour the landscape for heat. 

‘They don’t know where exactly these two are. They could be within feet of them and not know it. 

‘It happens all the time, where police officers find themselves on a containment and at the end of the day, the suspects were within feet of them and they just couldn’t see it,’ he said.

‘If they see movement, if an infrared from the air sees a heat source that looks really good and isn’t an animal…footprints, or clothing or trash,’ Jack Schonely, a former police officer, told CBC. 

This is the remote part of Manitoba in Canada where Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod are believed to be hiding

This is the remote part of Manitoba in Canada where Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod are believed to be hiding

The tiny town of Gillam (shown) has only one road leading into it which has now been blocked

The tiny town of Gillam (shown) has only one road leading into it which has now been blocked 

Canadian police using sniffer dogs are combing the area looking for clues

Canadian police using sniffer dogs are combing the area looking for clues 

Police in Manitoba have not revealed the exact size of their search perimeter and they are not fielding questions.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the force said they had brought in help from other departments in western Canada and were using every means necessary to find the boys. 

Bryer’s father Alan said that he believes they will be shot dead by police and that they want to ‘go out in a blaze of glory’. 

He has also told how his son enjoys playing strategy-based, military style video games.  

 It can get pretty trying to survive out there without good supplies.

 Gillam Deputy Mayor John MacDonald

The teenager’s mother issued him an emotional plea, however, on Thursday begging him to turn himself in.

What may have driven them to commit murder remains a mystery. 

The two teenagers, who are childhood friends, left Vancouver Island in search of better jobs, they told their parents. 

How they encountered their alleged victims or even acquired the weapons they would have needed to kill them remains unknown. 

Residents in Gillam have been warned not to approach either of the boys if they see them. 

They are considered dangerous and likely are still armed. 

Anyone who does see the pair has been told to call 911 or their local police department.  

The search for the pair continued on Friday. Police shared these photographs of their efforts

The search for the pair continued on Friday. Police shared these photographs of their efforts

Royal Canadian Mountain Police board a helicopter to look for the two teenagers on Friday

Royal Canadian Mountain Police board a helicopter to look for the two teenagers on Friday

This map plots the teenagers’ movements over the last few days and where the murders took place last week 

Police map their strategy to find the pair on Thursday as the hunt for them continues

Police map their strategy to find the pair on Thursday as the hunt for them continues 

The boys are now believed to be travelling on foot after torching their car (shown on Monday) after seeing their faces in the media

The boys are now believed to be travelling on foot after torching their car (shown on Monday) after seeing their faces in the media 

The enormous Hudson Bay which at the tip of northwest Manitoba. The boys' are experienced campers, one of their father's said, but the conditions where they are would be testing for anyone

The enormous Hudson Bay which at the tip of northwest Manitoba. The boys’ are experienced campers, one of their father’s said, but the conditions where they are would be testing for anyone 

An overhead view of the land in Manitoba is shown. Much of the province is similarly vast and sparse

An overhead view of the land in Manitoba is shown. Much of the province is similarly vast and sparse 

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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