A car driven by two teenagers suspected of murdering an Australian backpacker and his American girlfriend has been found torched near a remote Canadian town.
Canadian police confirmed on Wednesday that the grey 2011 Toyota RAV4 driven by Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, was found burned near the small town of Gillam in Manitoba – a wild and remote area of northern Canada.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are suspects in the murders of Lucas Fowler, 24, and his 23-year-old girlfriend Chynna Deese whose bodies were found in Liard Hot Springs in British Columbia on July 15. They are also suspects in the death of another man who is yet to be named.
Their torched car, which was found about 1,800 miles from where Fowler and Deese were found shot dead, was located by police on Tuesday.
Police confirmed on Wednesday that the car was the same one driven by the suspects.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, 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
Canadian police confirmed on Wednesday that the grey 2011 Toyota RAV4 driven by Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, was found torched near the small town of Gillam in Manitoba – a wild and remote area of northern Canada
This map plots the teenagers’ movements over the last few days and where the murders took place last week
It comes after police found another car last week that they believe was also driven by the suspects. That car – found about 300 miles from the couple’s bodies – had also been set on fire.
Following the discovery of the first burned car, police found the body of the unidentified man. He was located roughly a mile from the torched vehicle.
Police initially released images of McLeod and Schmegelsky on Monday night to say they were missing. They confirmed the following day that the two teens were actually suspects in the murders.
The guy who paid for the gas — he was quiet, he didn’t say anything, he was just looking down. They seemed like, I don’t know, normal
Gas station clerk Mychelle Keeper
After being declared suspects, a gas clerk in the remote town of Split Lakes, Manitoba, called police to say she had served them at about 4pm on Monday.
She said they spent $20 on fuel and asked where they could buy and consume alcohol in the area where drinking is not allowed.
‘The guy who paid for the gas – he was quiet, he didn’t say anything, he was just looking down,’ the clerk, Mychelle Keeper, told CBC.
‘They seemed like, I don’t know, normal. I’m just so nervous right now thinking about it.’
A man also reported to police about seeing a young man hitchiking in the area that night about seven hours after the gas station incident. The report came after their photos were released for the first time by police who, at the time, said they were missing.
‘I seen (sic) a young man hitching a ride at this spot Monday 23:45 just before I turned on to the 280 to go to Gillam,’ the man, named only as Barry, reported to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Mantioba.
‘Very strange to see a young white male hitching at this spot, at that time.
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
The pair were last seen driving a silver Toyota RAV 4. It matches the description of the car found burned out on Tuesday but police will not yet confirm if it was theirs
‘He pounced out of the dark and looked desperate. He was not intoxicated and looked serious.
‘He actually startled me because of how he jumped out towards my truck with his thumb up. I had to swerve out of his way.’
RCMP released a composite sketch of the man whose body was found around one mile south of burnt-out truck belonging to teenagers. They are suspected in his death too
Mantioba police will not confirm the sighting of the pair in Split Lakes.
The teenagers, if they remain in the area, appear to have few places to hide although family members have said they have experience of the outdoors. Schmegelsky is known to wear camouflage clothing.
Gillam, with a population of just 1,265, is so isolated the mayor describes it as ‘the end of the road’.
Canadian police have set up roadblocks and are swarming the area in search of the teens.
Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman told the National Post he was surprised the suspects chose to drive to Gillam.
He said to get out of the town, the teens would have to turn around and go back along the provincial road they had driven in on, or they could catch a train north to the town of Churchill.
‘We’re the end of the road,’ Forman said. ‘You can’t go any further beyond us.’
Gillam is 1,800 miles east of Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia, where Fowler, from Sydney, and Deese from North Carolina, were found shot dead.
Their bodies were left in a ditch near their broken-down van.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are also suspects in the death of a man whose body was found near a British Columbia highway.
The identity of the man is yet to be confirmed.
Bryer is shown, left, in a recent social media picture clutching a bottle of vodka and with Kam, right, in a profile pic
McLeod and Schmegelsky first came up on the RCMP’s radar on Friday when their Dodge pickup truck was found burning near the man’s body and the duo went missing.
On Monday, when the teens were still considered missing persons, police spokeswoman Dawn Roberts said: ‘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.
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
‘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.
BRITISH COLUMBIA BACKPACKER FEARS: A TIMELINE
July 15: 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.
July 16: Police publicly announce the two bodies were found dead on the side of Highway 97 but say ‘no further information is available’
July 17: Investigators ask anyone who may have seen, or have dashcam footage, between 4pm Sunday and 8am Monday to come forward
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
4pm: Gas store clerk in Split Lake says she served the pair
9pm: Police name McLeod and Schmegelsky but say they are missing
11.56pm: Man reports a young man hitchhiking in Manitoba
July 23: McLeod and Schmegelsky are named as suspects. Police find burned out car in Manitoba that belongs to them.