A massive manhunt in a remote Canadian town involving police, military, tracking dogs and drones has found no trace of two teenage murder suspects who have been on the run for two weeks – as survival experts say they might die in the harsh terrain and may never be found.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said late Monday that an extensive search of the small village of York Landing in Manitoba had failed to find fugitives Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18.
Investigators had received a tip on Sunday afternoon that two young men had been spotted foraging for food in a landfill in York Landing.
The town has a population of 443 and is so remote that is only accessible via air or ferry. There also is a rail line 15 miles south of the town.
Kam McLeod, 19, (left) and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, (right) have been on the run in northern Canada since they allegedly murdered three people in British Columbia two weeks ago, including American Chynna Deese, 24, her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler and Vancouver professor Leonard Dyck
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said late Monday that an extensive search of the small village of York Landing in Manitoba had failed to find the fugitives
‘After a thorough & exhaustive search, #rcmpmb has not been able to substantiate the tip in York Landing. RCMP resources will continue to be in the York Landing & Gillam areas. We thank the community for their patience & understanding & ask them to continue to be vigilant,’ the RCMP said.
The two teens are wanted over the murders of American Chynna Deese, 24, her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler and Vancouver botany professor Leonard Dyck.
They are suspected of murdering the three people two weeks ago in British Columbia before fleeing 1,800 miles across the country in a stolen Toyota RAV4.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were last spotted in the town of Gillam and their burnt out car was found close by last week.
Extensive search efforts were previously concentrated on Gillam before shifting to York Landing, which is 55 miles away, on Sunday.
The Royal Canadian Air Force joined the search at the weekend with authorities spending up to 20 hours each day scouring the remote area for the boys.
The search for the two teens shifted to the remote York Landing on Sunday after they were reportedly spotted foraging for food. York Landing is accessible only by air or a ferry, though a rail line runs about 15 miles away
This map plots the teenagers’ movements since the murders took place
The area surrounding Gillam, Manitoba, is made up of dense bush, forest and swamp land. It has prompted officials to warn that the teens may perish before they are even found by police
Police have warned there were polar bears near the area they were searching and said the threat of an attack had become a reality. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police distributed a photo (above) on Saturday of a polar bear encountered by searchers near Gillam
Searchers have been using military helicopters, drones, sniffer dogs and sensor technology to try to track the pair. Authorities have also been going door-to-door canvassing locals in their homes and searching abandoned buildings in the hope of finding the duo or picking up clues.
Officials have warned that McLeod and Schmegelsky could succumb to the harsh terrain before police even find them given the threats of polar bears, grizzlies and blood-sucking flies.
While searching the area made up of dense bush, forest and swamp land, officers have already come across at least one polar bear and are on the lookout for grizzlies, black bears and wolves, which are common in the region.
Authorities said they are roughly 1,000 officers aiding in the search for the two fugitives.
Police have earlier flagged the possibility that the teens escaped the town of Gillam on a slow-moving train or by hitching a ride with an unsuspecting passer-by before news of the manhunt reached the area.
Clint Sawchuk, the operator of Nelson River Adventures in Gillam, said he believes they likely walked along a railway line or hopped on a cargo train that heads west out of Gillam toward York Landing.
‘I said from the start, the only way you’re going to get out of Gillam is walking the railway line or travel by water,’ he said.
They are wanted over the murders of American Chynna Deese, 24, and her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler (left), as well as Vancouver botany professor, Leonard Dyck (right)
Searchers have been using military helicopters, drones, sniffer dogs and sensor technology to try to track the pair
RCMP officers used sniffer dogs and other resources as they searched the Gillam area for the teen fugitives at the weekend
He said it made sense to him the duo would end up at the garbage dump in York Landing desperately seeking food – no matter how rancid it was – after a week in the wilderness.
Members of the Bear Clan, an indigenous community policing group, spotted two tall, skinny men at the dump. The men fled into the wilderness after they were seen. Locals are wondering why the two men would run away if they were not the fugitives.
Sawchuk downplayed the chances of McLeod and Schmegelsky being attacked by wild animals while hiding out in bushland, particularly if they were heading west away from Hudson Bay.
‘They are going the wrong way for polar bears and grizzlies,’ he said. ‘If they were heading to the east coast they would have been screwed.’
But he said there are plenty of other dangers and obstacles.
‘There’s swamp and heavy bush,’ he said. ‘You can walk through it, but it is slow going and you can be up to your knees in swamp and we just had rain so the mosquitoes are out in full force and the sandflies are still out.’
A RCMP source told Fox News that a family member had described the teens to as ‘skilled survivalists’.
‘But they have no professional training that we’re aware of,’ the source said.
Authorities have gone door-to-door canvassing locals in their homes and searching abandoned buildings in the hope of finding the duo or picking up clues
Officers are pictured going door-to-door in the remote towns in their search for the teenage fugitives
RCMP officers make an early morning check off a passenger train in Gillam hoping to garner any shred of information which may lead to the whereabouts of the murder suspects
‘Truly you wouldn’t want to stick yourself in a small town when all of Canada is looking for you. If they left Gillam, they’d likely head to a bigger center where they’d blend in and could find food.’
McLeod and Schmegelsky – long time school friends – have been on the run since the bodies of Sydney backpacker Lucas Fowler and his North Carolina girlfriend Chynna Deese were discovered on a highway in Liard Hot Springs in British Columbia on July 15.
The old Chevrolet van Fowler and Deese were driving broke down on the Alaska Highway and left them stranded. Their bullet-riddled bodies were found in a ditch near the van.
The body of University of British Columbia botanist Leonard Dyck was found four days later and 300 miles away in Dease Lake. His body was found dead on another highway near a car the suspects are believed to have torched.
The teens have been charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s death.
The duo then drove more than 1,800 miles east to the province of Manitoba in a stolen RAV 4.
The Toyota was found crashed in a ditch off a sharp bend on a gravel road a week ago just outside of Gillam. It appears the teens lost control of the vehicle.
It was set alight and then abandoned, with camping gear left inside. They likely escaped into bushland.