A photograph emerged on Thursday of a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to one of two Canadian teenage murder suspects posing with a newspaper with he real suspects’ faces on it, sending hasty Twitter detectives into overdrive.
The image first appeared on Snapchat but was screen-shotted and shared on Facebook and Twitter on Thursday night.
It shows an as-yet unidentified man holding up a copy of The Winnipeg Sun with the faces of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky on its front page.
This is the photograph which sent Twitter users into overdrive. It shows a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Kam McLeod, one of the two teenage Canadian murder suspects, holding up a copy of The Winnipeg Sun, a local newspaper from this week, and smiling. Twitter users mistakenly thought it was a photograph of McLeod holding the paper himself
The Royal Canadian Mountain Police in Manitoba issued this tweet on Friday morning to dispel the fervent speculation that McLeod was taunting them. The person in the photo remains unidentified
The man in the photo holding the newspaper is shown, left. The suspect, Kam McLeod, is shown, right. He is still on the run after a week
The pair are on the run from police and are accused of murdering three people in British Columbia last week.
The man in the photograph bears a striking resemblance to McLeod, 19, which was so strong many Twitter users assumed it was a photograph of the suspect himself, taunting police.
‘This is sick!’ some proclaimed, reposting the photo and sending it to the Royal Canadian Police Department in Manitoba where they are thought to be hiding in the woods.
The man in the photograph is clean shaven and wearing an ironed Wu-Tang Clan t-shirt.
He is shown posing in what looks like either a campsite or merely a property surrounded by trees.
Twitter sleuths paid no heed to the fact that Kam and Bryer are in an area so remote there is no phone signal and that they have been living rough, likely camping in the woods with no supplies, for the best part of a week.
After fervent overnight speculation that it was a genuine post by the alleged killer, the police department issued a tweet on Friday to confirm that the image was of someone else.
Still on the run: Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are being hunted by Canadian police
Victims: Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese were found dead on July 15. Leonard Dyck, 64, (right) was named on Wednesday as the victim found 1 mile from their car
‘We can confirm that the current photo circulating online of a man posing with the front page of yesterday’s paper IS NOT one of our suspects,’ the police department posted on Friday.
At a press conference on Friday, a spokeswoman for the force said they had located the man in the photograph.
She urged residents not to panic and share information that they have not been able to verify through police, and send any and all information to them before posting it online.
‘We have spoken to him, it does appear to be an instance where a photo was taken and ended up being unintentionally circulated on social media.
‘We have confirmed that that is not the suspect. Obviously, they look similar,’ she said.
There is a huge police effort underway to find them but with thousands of miles of forest, marsh and baron land to comb, when the pair will be found remains to be seen.
The northwest pocket of Manitoba, where they are thought to be, is a harsh landscape.
There is only one road in and out of the town and that has now been blocked off with police checkpoints.
The boys are not thought to have stolen another car, leading police to believe they are traveling on foot.
It is unclear what kind of supplies they have, if any, and where they are taking shelter.
This is the remote part of Manitoba in Canada where Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod are believed to be hiding
An overhead view of the land in Manitoba is shown. Much of the province is similarly vast and sparse
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
Police map their strategy to find the pair on Thursday as the hunt for them continues
This map plots the teenagers’ movements over the last few days and where the murders took place last week
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.
‘They could break into one of those buildings and they could be hiding in there. It’s scary,’ Tanya Wavey, 40, said.
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.
Canadian police using sniffer dogs are combing the area looking for clues
The search for the pair continued on Friday. Police shared these photographs of their efforts
‘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.
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’.
Royal Canadian Mountain Police board a helicopter to look for the two teenagers on Friday
He has also told how his son enjoys playing strategy-based, military style video games.
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.