The father of one of the two teens suspected of shooting dead Australian Lucas Fowler, his American girlfriend and a Canadian academic has hailed his son and his companion for their ability to evade police.
Alan Schmegelsky has refused to call his 19-year-old son Bryer a murderer until he sees hard evidence from authorities.
On Wednesday (local time), police discovered the bodies of Bryer Schmegeslky and Kam McLeod, 19, in dense bushland 8km from where their burnt-out getaway vehicle was found about 55km northeast of the remote town of Gillam.
“I’m not going to see my son as a murderer until I get some facts. You want me to sit here and tell me my son positively murdered your co-citizen? Because I won’t, because I can’t,” he told Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes.
The show interviewed the father during the search and also after the teens were found dead.
“We still don’t have a clear picture of the circumstances.
“You may think he’s a monster, but he’s my son, he’s my Bryer.”
The discovery of the teens’ bodies follows a dramatic manhunt across Canada that gripped the nation and the rest of the world.
Schmegelsky and McLeod were named murder suspects after the bodies of Mr Fowler and his partner Chynna Deese were found shot dead on a remote British Columbia highway on July 15.
Just days later, Leonard Dyck was found shot dead 470km away near the burnt out car the teens used to leave their home in southern British Columbia and head to neighbouring province Yukon for work.
Father overjoyed with son’s ability to evade police
Alan Schmegeslky first learned of his son’s disappearance from the front page of the Vancouver Sun.
As he feared for his son’s welfare, he revealed he was overjoyed when discovering they had managed to go undetected when passing through a police check as they headed east across Canada’s north.
“These boys are smart, they’re intelligent.. kudos boys, kudos,” he told 60 Minutes referring to the sighting.
The search for the teens eventually honed in on Gillam, about 3000km from where the body of Mr Dyck was found, following several sightings in the area after their burnt-out car found.
Sixteen days later, the teen’s bodies were found after a local tour guide found a sleeping bag on the shoreline of the Nelson River.
“His troubles are over,” Mr Schmegelsky said.
“I’m so sad that he felt he had to take this road trip.”
When asked by 60 Minutes reporter Sarah Abo how he felt knowing his son would be remembered a murderer, he revealed the aspirations he had held for his son.
“Not very good at all. There’s no glory in that. I wanted by son to be someone amazing, I wanted by son to have a future,” he said.
In a message to the victims’ families, Mr Schmegelsky said he was able to relate to them as he too had lost a loved one.
“I’m so sorry for what’s happened... I have just lost my son, I know exactly how you feel,” he said.
Mr Schmegelsky downplayed suggestions an imitation rifle he bought his son for his 17th birthday played a role in the shooting deaths.
"It was getting him out of the woods with his buddies, it was getting him outside,"Schmegelsky told 60 Minutes about the gun which fired pellets instead of bullets.
"I never gave him a real gun. I never gave him a gun that would kill someone."
Mr Schmegeslky shared footage of his son using the toy gun, lying on the ground.
However, reports from local media suggests authorities are reluctant to release the information publicly.
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