US & Canada

Canada murders: Bodies found in hunt for two suspects

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Media captionPolice assistant commissioner Jane MacLatchy announces the discovery

Canadian police have found what they believe to be the bodies of two teenagers suspected of three murders.

Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, have been on the run since late July when three bodies, including those of an Australian-US couple, were found in northern British Columbia.

The teenagers were later seen 3,300km (2,050 miles) to the east, in Manitoba, where police concentrated their search.

The two bodies were found near the town of Gillam on Wednesday.

"Hopefully this will help the families of the victims achieve a sense of closure," said federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police assistant commissioner Jane MacLatchy told media on Wednesday: "I'm confident it is them but to identify them officially and to be sure we have to go to autopsy."

Police say a motive for the murders is still unknown.

Image copyright RCMP handout
Image caption Police released CCTV images of the two suspects after they were spotted on 21 July

The manhunt has kept Gillam, a community of about 1,300 people, on edge for weeks.

"It's huge to be able to hopefully give people an opportunity to exhale, and to hopefully eventually go back to normal, to not be afraid of who's out in the woods any more," Ms MacLatchy said.

The area of the Gillam region where the bodies were found was described as "very, very dense brush".

What do we know about the pair?

McLeod and Schmegelsky, both from Vancouver Island, were on their way to Yukon territory for work when they went missing last month.

Police named them as suspects in the deaths of Chynna Deese, a 24-year-old American, and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, 23, who had been found shot dead.

They were also charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck, 64.

The two were considered "armed and dangerous" and the public were warned not to approach them.

On 23 July the search was refocused on Manitoba, after the burnt-out car belonging to Mr Dyck and reportedly used by the pair was found near Gillam.

Their last confirmed sighting was on 22 July.

How did the search unfold?

Searchers covered some 11,000 sq km (4,250 square miles) by air or foot over nine days and checked some 500 homes and abandoned buildings.

While the search focused primarily around Gillam, police also descended on the remote community of York Landing, about 90km to the south, following a reported sighting of the pair.

On 31 July, after a fruitless search, they announced a "phased withdrawal" of resources.

But on Wednesday police said they had a breakthrough when items belonging to the two young men were found on a riverbank, leading to the discovery of the bodies nearby.

What do we know about the victims?

Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were killed between 14 July and early 15 July.

Their bodies were found 12 miles (20km) south of Liard Hot Springs along the Alaska Highway.

They were on a two-week-long road trip across Canada. Mr Fowler had been working in the country.

Image copyright New South Wales Police
Image caption The bodies of Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler were discovered last month

Mr Dyck, a lecturer at the University of British Columbia, was found shot dead on 19 July, near Dease Lake.

Image copyright RCPM
Image caption Mr Dyck's family said his death had "created unthinkable grief"

What happens next?

Police will be loooking to formally identify the bodies found in Gillam.

RCMP in British Columbia say the investigations into the murders in Dease Lake and Liard Hot Springs are ongoing.

BC Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett said the case was "one of the most dynamic and unpredictable" cases in his memory.

Mr Hackett said with both suspects allegedly dead, it would be "extremely difficult for us to ascertain what the motive was."

The investigation has been widely covered in Canada and around the world, and police received about 1,000 tips from the public.

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