Two teenage murder suspects on the run in northern Canada are facing threats far more dire than the law enforcement officials hunting them – including polar bears, grizzlies and blood-sucking flies.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were last spotted in Manitoba, some 1,800 miles from where they allegedly murdered American Chynna Deese, 24, and her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler, as well as Vancouver botany professor Leonard Dyck in British Columbia.
Police have deployed search helicopters and flooded the tiny village of York Landing with officers as they step up their hunt for the suspects who were recently seen foraging for food in a landfill.
However, officials have warned that McLeod and Schmegelsky could succumb to the harsh terrain before police even find them.
Teenage murder suspects Kam McLeod, 19, (left) and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, (right), who are on the run in northern Canada, are facing threats far more dire than the law enforcement officials hunting them – including polar bears, grizzlies and blood-sucking flies.
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
Grizzly bears and blood-sucking sandflies are common in the region this time of year
While searching the area made up of dense bush, forest and swamp land, officers came across at least one polar bear and are on the lookout for grizzlies, black bears and wolves, which are fairly common in the region.
Manitoba is also home to a very small predator – the sandfly.
‘If they are wandering around in the bush, they couldn’t have picked a worse time because the sandflies came out three days ago and they’re just voracious,’ John McDonald, deputy mayor of Gillam, the largest town near York Landing, told the Coast Mountain News on Wednesday.
‘I’m quite sure they’ll be more than happy to have someone find them.’
The weather poses yet another threat as heavy wind and rain will make it easy for the fugitives to get lost.
‘A family member described the teens to us as “skilled survivalists” but they have no professional training that we’re aware of,’ a Royal Canadian Mounted Police source told Fox News.
‘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.’
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 over the last few days and where the murders took place last week
The area surrounding Gillam, Manitoba, is made up of dense bush, forest and swamp land
The weather poses a threat as heavy wind and rain will make it easy for the fugitives to get lost
Police had concentrated their search in recent days in the harsh terrain in the Gillam area, about 620 miles north of Winnipeg. They had deployed drones, dogs and military before shifting focus to York Landing on Sunday.
York Landing, which has a population of just 443, now remains in lockdown after authorities received reports that McLeod and Schmegelsky had been spotted foraging for food at a landfill.
The village is accessible only by air or a ferry, though a rail line runs about 15 miles away.
‘Last night, at approximately 5.00pm, the RCMP received a tip that two males matching the description of the wanted suspects were seen in York Landing, Manitoba. Based on the information received, the RCMP immediately deployed multiple resources to the community,’ RCMP said on Monday.
‘Officers searched the York Landing area throughout the night and continue their efforts today. The Royal Canadian Air Force is also assisting today with the search.
‘Officers on the ground have not made contact with the individuals, as such, the RCMP is not yet in a position to confirm that these are the wanted suspects.
‘It is critical that residents of York Landing remain vigilant and stay indoors as much as possible with their doors locked, & to report anything suspicious by calling their local police immediately.’
Authorities have been working up to 20 hours per day searching around the small town of Gillam in northern Manitoba where the boys were sighted last week.
On Saturday, a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules CC-130H Hercules was brought in to assist with the aerial search for the duo.
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.
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.
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)
Canadian police have deployed search helicopters and flooded a tiny village with additional officers in the search for fugitives Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18,
The duo then drove more than 1,800 miles east to the province of Manitoba in a stolen RAV 4. They also later ditched that car and burned it.
The friends had been spotted twice in the extremely remote town of Gillam before the most recent sighting York Landing.
Specialist officers using sniffer dogs, a drone equipped with heat sensors, and helicopters are all engaged in the manhunt.
The airborne search has cast almost 200 miles wide and around 1,000 officers are working the case across the country.
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 had escaped the town on a slow-moving train or by hitching a ride with an unsuspecting passer-by before news of the manhunt reached the area.
They have no sightings or evidence to confirm the suspicion.
On Saturday, a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules CC-130H Hercules was brought in to assist with the aerial search for the duo
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
The Canadian government, desperate to catch the fugitives, immediately approved the RCMP request for military support to help in the search
Meanwhile, the father of one of the suspects has sent a book to reporters describing his mental health, harassment convictions involving his ex-wife and his relationship with his fugitive son.
Alan Schmegelsky said the book titled ‘Red Flagged’ is a novelization of actual events and fictionalizes some incidents.
He said he sent the book to reporters to highlight how a ‘broken system’ has shaped him and his son.
‘My son and I have been treated like footballs. It’s time for some truth,’ he said.
He writes that he was arrested by Victoria police on Aug. 4, 2008, his son Bryer’s eighth birthday, three years after his acrimonious split with the boy’s mother.
Court records show he was charged with criminal harassment in December 2008. He was found guilty of the lesser offence of disobeying a court order.
He returned to court numerous times over the next decade on charges of harassment and breach of probation.
Schmegelsky says he does not currently have a permanent residence and has been homeless for about two years, staying primarily in Victoria.
He has said that he did not see his son between the ages of 8 and 16, at which age his son briefly lived with him in Victoria and they worked in construction together for a summer. He showed The Canadian Press recent photos and videos of his son on his phone.