Two Canadian teenagers who were originally feared missing in northern British Columbia are now the subject of a national manhunt, as police continue to investigate the murders of the US citizen Chynna Deese, 24 and Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, on a remote highway.
The search for Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, suspects in the double murder and in the death of a second unidentified man, is now focusing around the town of Gillam in northern Manitoba, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Wednesday.
“The search for these two suspects is continuing,” Manitoba RCMP tweeted.
The RCMP had previously said that sightings across the northern prairie provinces have confirmed they are still on the move.
“We believe they are likely continuing to travel, though we don’t have a possible destination,” an RCMP spokeswoman, Janelle Shoihet, told reporters late on Tuesday.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were spotted on Tuesday by employees at a hardware store in the city of Meadow Lake, in northern Saskatchewan, according to CBC News.
They appear to be moving further east: the RCMP reported later in the day that they had “reason to believe” the pair had been in the area of Gillam, Manitoba, where a burned-out car was found near the Bird reserve on Fox Lake Cree Nation.
“We cannot confirm this was directly connected with the individuals wanted by RCMP,” the chief of the Fox Lake Cree Nation, Walter Spence, told CBC. The local community organized an all-night patrol as a precaution.
The pair are considered dangerous; the RCMP has warned anyone who spots them to call 911 and not approach.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are childhood friends from the small town of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, and had reportedly worked together at the local Walmart to save up money for their trip off-island.
The town’s local radio station reported that, according to Schmegelsky’s grandmother Carol Starkey, the pair had left Port Alberni on 12 July in order to find work in Whitehorse, in Yukon.
“They’re just kids on an adventure. They’re good boys,” Schmegelsky’s father, Al Schmegelsky, said on Monday – the day before the two young men were named as suspects.
It remains unclear if and when McLeod and Schmegelsky came into contact with Fowler and Deese, who were found shot dead at the side of the Alaska Highway about 20km south of Liard River Hot Springs provincial park.
Police have also yet to describe any link between the couple’s death and the discovery of a second dead man 500km to the south near the town of Dease Lake.
The two violent crimes have unnerved the remote communities of northern Canada, many of which do not have a police presence.