While the search for two teen murder suspects stretched across a vast 11,000 square kilometre area in remote Manitoba, it turned out their bodies were found just walking distance from their burnt out getaway car discovered over two weeks ago.
The bodies of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, the two 19-year-old fugitives who are suspected of killing three people including Australian man Lucas Fowler, have finally been found after a near three-week hunt for the pair.
Police are “confident” the two bodies they found on Wednesday (local time) are the two teens whose manhunt gripped Canada and the rest of the world.
The discovery of their bodies is roughly 8km from where their burnt out Toyota Rav4 getaway vehicle was found on July 22, about 50km northeast of the town of Gillam.
Sixteen days have passed since, with police responding to dozens of suspected sightings far and wide, including in neighbouring province Ontario.
Most notably, police descended on the small community of York Landing, about 90km southwest of Gillam after a volunteer in the search party said he witnessed two men acting suspiciously near a landfill a week after their car was found.
However their operation proved to be fruitless and police went back to the drawing board with almost no evidence to suggest where the teens could be.
Despite scouring 11,000 square kilometres of wilderness from the ground and in the air, the RCMP failed to locate teens.
It turned out, the teens were far closer to their last sighting in Gillam and as police looked to be cutting back resources in their search, they were given a new lead last week when a badly damaged rowboat was found on the banks of the Nelson River near the ghost town of Sundance.
Fugitive’s items found confirming police were close
Five days ago they found several items directly linked to the teens on the shoreline of the Nelson River, prompting police to block off Sundance as their search was ramped up once more.
Police believed the teens may have fled the scene of their burnt out vehicle and tackled the treacherous Nelson River in the aluminium rowboat.
Unable to continue in the rough conditions, the teens appear to have come ashore at the location the items of interest were found.
Over the weekend police sent in divers to search the bed of the Nelson River but to no avail.
Moving onto land and facing the challenge of searching challenging terrain, it was not until Wednesday that police eventually discovered the bodies, roughly 1km from where the items of interest had been found.
Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy at a press conference on Wednesday described the area McLeod and Schmegelsky as “dense bushland”.
Experts had previously said the teens would struggle to survive in an area that is plagued by mosquitos in summer months while the wildlife consisted of several dangerous predators including polar bears.
Closure for families and local communities
Ms MacLatchy said it was a relief for the area that the teen’s bodies had been found, with local communities able to move on.
“I know it has been so very difficult and I hope today’s announcement can begin to bring some closure,” she said.
While the news will be of some relief to the victims’ families, the discovery of McLeod and Schmegelsky’s bodies significantly reduces the possibility of finding out why the teens allegedly carried out the killings.
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