The father of a teenage boy suspected of murdering a young couple in Canada with his friend said they were ‘good boys on an adventure’.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are wanted over the brutal murder of Australian Lucas Fowler, 24, and American Chynna Deese, 23.
The young tavellers were found dead on Monday 15 July after their van broke down on the Alaska Highway in British Columbia.
On Friday McLeod and Schmegelsky were reported missing after their truck was found burning near a third dead body.
Bryer Schmegelsky’s worried father Al on Monday told CBC: ‘They’re just kids on an adventure, they’re good boys’ before the pair were named as suspects on Tuesday.
The boys – both 6ft4 – are believed to be in Saskatchewan, 1,156 miles from where the young couple’s bodies were found, and are thought to be dangerous.
The pair, who are elementary school friends, left Vancouver Island for Whitehorse in search of work sometime before the murders.
They stopped communicating with their families several days ago.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, shown above in newly released photos, are now considered suspects in the murders of an American woman and Australian backpacker. They are shown above in a photo believed to have been taken in Saskatchewan
Shot dead: Lucas Fowler, the 24-year-old son of an Australian police officer, and his girlfriend Chynna Deese, from Charlotte, North Carolina, were found dead on the Alaska Highway last Monday
Bryer is shown, left, in a recent social media picture clutching a bottle of vodka and with Kam, right, in a profile pic
A map showing where three bodies have been found and where the suspects are believed to be now
It is unclear what shifted police to name them as suspects but at a press conference on Tuesday, a RCMP spokesman said: ‘If you see them, do not approach, take no action, and immediately call 911.’
Kam and Bryer’s car was found 470 kilometres 290 miles from Lucas and Chynna’s bodies and the incidents were five days’ apart.
It was burned out and abandoned.
Another body was found 2km (1 mile) near their vehicle but that person has not yet been named.
Police will also not reveal whether or not that man was murdered, or how he died, but they say the teens are wanted in connection with his death.
Canadian police issued an image of a person of interest (left) in the murder of couple Chynna Deese, and Lucas Fowler who was seen ‘arguing’ with the pair. Right: RCMP released a composite sketch of the man whose body was found around one mile south of burnt-out truck belonging to teenagers.
On Monday, when they still considered them missing, police spokeswoman Dawn Roberts said of the teenagers: ‘Kam and Bryer have periodically connected with family and friends over the past week and it is possible that they are now in area without cell coverage.
‘However, we have found their vehicle and have not been able to locate either of them at this time.
‘We are asking for Kam or Bryer to connect with police right away and let us know you are okay.’
The pair have been friends since elementary school.
It is unclear how long they had been on the road.
Tourists flood British Columbia’s Rocky Mountains hot-spots at this time of year like Banff and Jasper for hiking and hot springs adventures.
Who exactly killed Fowler and Deese remains a mystery, with one witness claiming to have seen the couple having a ‘heated exchange’ with a bearded man last Sunday.
The couple’s beat-up Chevrolet minivan was seized by police and was pictured for the first time earlier today with a blown out back window.
Witnesses to Fowler and Deese’s final moments have came forward to tell of their final encounters with the tragic couple.
Some said they saw them having a heated discussion with a bearded man on the side of a highway.
It prompted police to release a drawing of the man but it is unclear if he is still considered a suspect in light of the two teenagers now being named as suspects.
Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, who were described as missing yesterday, have now been named as suspects
World explorers: Chynna Deese (left) and Lucas Fowler (right) at the Grand Canyon and in Myanmar respectively. The couple met at a hostel in Croatia two years ago
On July 13 at around 7.30 pm, the pair filled up their blue van at a petrol station and were seen embracing on CCTV footage
Police refused to share details of what evidence – if any – they had to link the teens to the crime scene.
They have already come under fire from Deese’s family for their handling of the investigation.
Her father told The Charlotte Observer that the killer got a ‘headstart’ because police were so slow to move.
‘I don’t think it’s a serial killer. I think of someone who has been convicted of violent crimes before, someone on drugs. That fits the profile better.
‘What worries us is that person is still on the loose and they have a head start. This is going to happen again.
‘There needs to be some kind of a warning system in place for tourists,’ he told The Charlotte Observer last week.
Deese’s family remains at a loss over what could have happened to them.
They say she and her boyfriend, who met in Croatia in 2017, were experienced travelers who would not put themselves in danger.
They had gone through Europe together and spent three months living with her family in North Carolina before Fowler moved to Canada for his job on a cattle farm.
Their plan was to spend three weeks driving through Canada, sleeping in their camper.
Fowler’s family in Australia are also at a loss over what could have happened.
His father is a police officer in New South Wales. Detectives from the force have been sent to Canada to act as liaisons.
‘It’s become, ‘Don’t get out of your car, you’ll get murdered.’ People are nervous.
Local business owner Gail Andrews
The Canadian cops say that they do not know if either of the teenage boys has a criminal record. Their families have not yet spoken out either.
Police have been criticized for not doing more to calm fears among residents in British Columbia.
‘The rumour mill is rampant,’ Gail Andrews, whose family has run the remote Tetsa River Lodge near the Alaska Highway – where Deese and Fowler were found – told CBC.
‘It’s become, ‘Don’t get out of your car, you’ll get murdered.’ People are nervous.’
BRITISH COLUMBIA BACKPACKER FEARS: A TIMELINE
Monday, July 15, 2019: At 7.19am, Royal Mounted Canadian Police are called to the side of the road on the Alaska Highway, in remote British Columbia.
Police found the bodies of a young man and young woman about 20km south of the Liard Hot Springs, not far from a beat-up blue minivan.
Tuesday, July 16: Police publicly announce the two bodies were found dead on the side of Highway 97 but say ‘no further information is available’
Wednesday, July 17: Investigators ask anyone who may have seen, or have dashcam footage, between 4pm Sunday and 8am Monday to come forward
Thursday, July 18: Detectives confirm the identities of the two dead as Lucas Fowler, 24, and Chynna Deese, 23
Some 470km away near Dease Lake, police discover an abandoned truck and find the body of a man
July 21: Witness tells media of seeing a ‘bearded man’ having a ‘heated exchange’ with Fowler and Deese on the side of the highway
July 22: Pictures emerge of Fowler and Deese’s minivan with a blown out back window
Police issue urgent appeal for two men who have gone missing near Dease Lake, Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18
July 23: McLeod and Schmegelsky are named as suspects