The mystery had riveted Canadians: A young couple and a botanist killed in a violent rampage in British Columbia. Two young suspects who disappeared without a trace. A cross-country manhunt in a remote, swampy area of northern Manitoba that appeared to be turning up few clues.
Then on Wednesday the Canadian police said they believed they had found the bodies of the two teenagers suspected in the killings.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, had been the subject of an intense two-week cross-province manhunt that brought a sense of noirish fear to Manitoba, where some residents said they had been afraid to leave their homes. The case drew international attention to an area unused to getting much notice.
An autopsy was underway to confirm the identities of the bodies, Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, the commanding officer of the Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba, said at a news conference.
But she said the police were confident the bodies belonged to the suspects.
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s minister of public safety, said the investigation and manhunt had been very challenging, noting that it included the Canadian military and covered an area the equivalent of the distance from London to Moscow.
In Regina, Saskatchewan, he told reporters that he hoped the discovery of the suspects’ bodies would restore a sense of security to anxious Canadians, even as he acknowledged that finding the pair dead could leave some questions unanswered. “I think there is a great sense of relief,” he said.
Commissioner MacLatchy said a breakthrough in the investigation came Friday after police officers discovered personal items belonging to the suspects on the shore of the Nelson River. The police also found a damaged aluminum boat.
The police described the breakthrough on Twitter. “Our officers knew we needed just one piece of evidence to move the search forward & on Friday, August 2nd, the items found on the shoreline of the Nelson River & directly linked to the suspects, enables officers to narrow down the search,” RCMP Manitoba wrote.
The discovery of the items led officers into a dense area of brush less than a mile away, where they found the bodies, the assistant commissioner said.
The youths are believed to have killed Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old University of British Columbia lecturer; Lucas Fowler, 23, an Australian; and his girlfriend, Chynna Deese, 24, of Charlotte, N.C. The young couple was shot dead.
Speaking at Mr. Fowler’s funeral last week in Sydney, Australia, his father, Stephen Fowler, described him as an avid camper who had been living his dream and had found the love of his life in Ms. Deese.
“We are so happy that Lucas and Chynna found each other and had such a great time traveling together, meeting new friends and just milking every last drop of fun out of life,” Mr. Fowler, a chief inspector for the New South Wales Police, was quoted as saying by the CBC, the Canadian broadcaster.
The police said they remained baffled about a motive in the killings.
Mr. McLeod and Mr. Schmegelsky had been friends since elementary school. The latter reportedly collected Nazi paraphernalia and may have been sympathetic to Nazi ideology, but his father, Al Schmegelsky, denied that. He told the Canadian news media that his son had been on “a suicide mission.”
Al Schmegelsky said his son had a passion for military battle video games, and had suffered emotional problems after his parents divorced when he was 5. “He wants his hurt to end,” the father told the Canadian Press news agency last month. “They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory.”
The suspects, whom the police initially considered to be missing, left their home in Port Alberni, British Columbia, a lumber- and paper-mill town, on July 12, telling relatives and friends they planned to look for work in Alberta.
The couple who were killed — Mr. Fowler of Sydney and Ms. Deese — had been on a road trip in northern British Columbia when their van broke down on July 14. They died of gunshots, and their bodies were discovered near the van.
A few days later, the police discovered the body of Mr. Dyck, a Vancouver botanist, on a highway about 300 miles away. The youths’ burnt-out camping truck was found in the vicinity.
With three people found dead, the Canadian police then warned that the missing youths were considered armed and dangerous.
They combed thousands of square miles of territory and searched for days in the dense wilderness of northern Manitoba, which is peppered by swamps and inhabited by wild animals. After discovering a boat, a police dive team trawled the Nelson River, northeast of Gillam, Manitoba, hoping for a clue on where the suspects may have fled.
But the police had warned that the fugitives’ bodies might never be found.
On Wednesday the assistant commissioner said she hoped that identifying the bodies of the killers would bring some closure to the communities in northern Manitoba buffeted by the murders.
“I know it has been so very difficult,” Commissioner MacLatchy said.