A student who went to school with a Nazi-obsessed teenager wanted for triple murder has revealed he told her ‘how he would cut our heads off’.
Canadian Madison Hempstead said Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, would ‘put his gun in his mouth’ and tell her and her friends he was going to decapitate them.
Heavily armed police with tracker dogs were searching a remote and densely forested area of northern Canada where Schmegelsky and accomplice Kam McLeod, 19, are thought to be holed up.
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Canadian Madison Hempstead (pictured) said Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, would ‘put his gun in his mouth’ and tell her and her friends he was going to decapitate them
Bryer Schmegelsky – one of the teenagers suspected of killing three people in northern British Columbia – fantasized about acting out his violent video games in reality and wore Swastika-emblazoned clothing
The two Canadians are sought in the murders of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese.
The pair have also been charged with the second-degree murder of a third person, identified by police as Leonard Dyck.
All the victims were found in northern British Columbia earlier this month, but the suspects have been spotted hundreds of miles away in the northern Manitoba town of Gillam, police said.
Schmegelsky is one of the suspects in the murders of an Australian backpacker Lucas Fowler, 24, and Chynna Deese 23, his American girlfriend (both pictured in the Grand Canyon), whose bodies were found in British Columbia on July 15
The body of Vancouver father Leonard Dyck (left) was discovered near a highway in British Columbia last week as police investigated the murders of Lucas Fowler, 24, and his 23-year-old girlfriend Chynna Deese. Authorities were initially unable to identify Dyck when his body was found and released a sketch of him (right)
This map plots the teenagers’ movements over the last few days and where the murders took place last week
Ms Hempstead told Nine News Schmegelsky had a gun and ‘was a weird kid who didn’t really talk to anyone… super to himself’.
She added: ‘But when he did talk to people the things he said were kind of scary.
‘There was times when he would tell me and my friends ways he wanted to kill us and himself which is scary.’
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have sent ‘a significant amount of resources’ to the Gillam area, including tracker dogs, air surveillance, emergency response teams and crisis negotiators, spokesman Julie Courchaine said on Thursday.
McLeod, 19, (left) and Schmegelsky, 18, (right) were spotted on Monday in Manitoba by a gas clerk who says they asked her where they could drink alcohol. She did not know at the time they were involved
Schmegelsky is believed to have lost friends when he started making them ‘feel uncomfortable’, after showing them pictures of him wearing a Nazi armband (pictured) and telling them how he imagined playing out shooter games in reality
Royal Canadian Mounted Police SWAT Team have been swarming the small town of Gillam, Manitoba, a remote area of northern Canada, where the teens left their incinerated vehicle
‘We believe they are still in the area,’ Courchaine said, citing two separate sightings of the suspects in the Gillam area.
Television footage showed heavily armed officers in camouflage with dogs combing the woods and searching vehicles at road checkpoints.
Lisa Lucas, a neighbor of Schmegelsky’s grandmother in their hometown of Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, said her son used to play with the suspected murderer when the two boys were in junior high together.
Lisa Lucas (left), Schmegelsky’s grandmother’s neighbor, said her son used to play with Schmegelsky (right) but he lost friends when he started making people ‘feel uncomfortable’. Lucas said he would talk a lot about violent video games and showed off pictures of him wearing a Nazi armband
But Schmegelsky lost friends when he started making them ‘feel uncomfortable’, after showing them pictures of him wearing a Nazi armband and telling them how he imagined playing out shooter games in reality, Lucas said.
Lucas said: ‘After a while he started making people feel uncomfortable, just with the comments that he would make and how much he was into video games, a little bit more on the violent side of the video games. Bryer seemed to take it very seriously,’ said the mother-of-four, who is friends with the Schmegelsky family.
‘My son told me that he would mention things like ”what if this was real? Can you imagine if this was real?” when playing video games. He’d get a little too excited about it.’
TIMELINE OF THE MANHUNT FOR MURDER SUSPECTS
July 15: Police found the bodies of a young man and young woman not far from a beat-up blue minivan about 20km south of the Liard Hot Springs in British Columbia.
July 18: Detectives confirm the identities of the two dead as Australian Lucas Fowler, 24, and his 23-year-old American girlfriend Chynna Deese.
Police find a burned out truck about 300 miles away in Dease Lake and discover a man’s body nearby.
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: Police find a second burned out vehicle 1,800 miles away near the small town of Gillam in Manitoba.
Police release photos of McLeod and Schmegelsky and say they are missing.
Gas store clerk in nearby Split Lake tells authorities she served the pair at about 4pm in the afternoon.
Man reports a young man hitchhiking in Manitoba before midnight.
July 23: McLeod and Schmegelsky are named as suspects.
July 24: Police confirm the second burned out car belongs to the teens.
They identify the third victim as Vancouver father Leonard Dyck and say McLeod and Schmegelsky have been charged with second-degree murder in his death.
‘[My son] said everybody just got a little bit uncomfortable around him. He seemed to have less and less friends as time went on, later into junior high.’
She continued: ‘Rylan said Bryer just gave off a weird kind of vibe. He made him feel uncomfortable,’ she said. ‘I think it came down to him only having a couple of close friends, like Kam.’
Lucas said Rylan, 19, was surprised at one point to see Schmegelsky posting Swastikas online.
‘My son told me that on his social media [Schmegelsky] did have a Swastika. I don’t know if that means as much to the kids these days as it does to older people. He does remember seeing the Nazi symbol on his social media.
‘My son’s a big gamer too, but it’s not his life. It seems some kids just get sucked into that and that’s their life.’
A friend who played online video games with Schmegelsky told Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail that the teen sent him pictures of himself wearing military fatigues holding an Airsoft rifle and other photos of himself wearing a gas mask and showing a Swastika armband similar to the uniform worn by Nazi officers.
The gamer, who asked the newspaper to remain anonymous, said he stopped playing video games with Schmegelsky after he repeatedly praised Hitler’s Germany.
In an interview with Canadian Press, Schmegelsky’s father said his son was deeply troubled and ‘[wanted] his pain to end.’
‘He’s on a suicide mission… he’s going to be dead today or tomorrow,’ Alan Schmegelsky said of his son, explaining Bryer never recovered emotionally from his parents’ divorce in 2005.
‘Rest in peace, Bryer. I love you,’ said the older Schmegelsky, in tears.
‘I’m so sorry all of this had to happen. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t rescue you.’
The suspects were last spotted on Monday before the federal police agency discovered their vehicle in the Gillam area. It had been set on fire.
Although the suspects had not been seen since, Courchaine added that there had been no vehicles reported stolen that could be attributed to the pair.
‘Over the last 48 hours we have received over 80 tips and we continue to ask the public to remain vigilant,’ she said.
Bryer is shown, left, in a recent social media post clutching a bottle of vodka (left) and with Kam (right) in a profile pic
This is the teenagers’ Toyota RAV4 after it was set on fire in rural Manitoba on Monday, hours after their photographs were released by the police
Public Safety Ralph Goodale echoed the sentiment during an event Thursday.
‘Canadians can be in absolute confidence that every technique necessary to keep [them] safe is being applied in this case,’ he said.
Prior to the discovery on Monday of the burnt car, the suspects were last seen in the north of neighboring Saskatchewan province driving a gray Toyota RAV4.
Schmegelsky’s father told local news site Chek News that Schmegelsky and McLeod worked together in Walmart (pictured) on the outskirts of the small town for about five weeks before they left, saying they were going to Alberta to find better paying work
The agency had earlier warned the public against interacting with McLeod and Schmegelsky.
‘If you spot them – take no actions – do not approach – call 911 or your local police immediately,’ the RCMP said.
The Gillam area is ‘all swamp, heavy trees,’ and occasionally visited by polar bears, the town’s mayor Dwayne Forman told public broadcaster CBC.
‘There’s only one road in and one road out,’ Forman said.
Police said the vast, densely forested area was hard to search.
‘This is very challenging terrain,’ Courchaine said. ‘This is a large area, there’s lots of dense bush, forest, swampy areas, so it is very challenging.’
With wolves, bears and bugs to contend with, local guide Clint Sawchuck warned the hostile landscape was no place for the unprepared.
‘It’s scary being out in the bush if you don’t know what you’re doing,’ he told CBC News.
‘You get off the beaten trail and it’s all swamp, you’re up to your waist in water…. and the bugs’d be eating you.’
Initially considered missing, the RCMP said on Tuesday that McLeod and Schmegelsky were instead suspects in the shooting deaths of Fowler, 23, and Deese, 24, whose bodies were found on July 15.
Police later found the body of Dyck, believed to be in his 50s or 60s, about 300 miles away, near the ruins of a torched pick-up truck believed to have been used by the teen suspects.
Police think the man, described to officers as a ‘loving husband and father’ by his family, was killed late last week.