Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were wanted over the killing of three people and were the subject of a police manhunt
The Canadian men who evaded a country-wide manhunt for more than two weeks, and whose bodies were discovered last week, likely died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, police have said.
The results of an autopsy confirmed the human remains found near a river in Gillam, Manitoba, belonged to murder suspects Kam McLeod, 19 and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18.
“While both individuals were deceased for a number of days before they were found, the exact time and date of their deaths are not known,” said the RCMP, Canada’s federal police, in a statement on Monday.
“However, there are strong indications that they had been alive for a few days since last seen in July and during the extensive search efforts in the Gillam area.”
Northern Manitoba had been the site of an intense and sustained search for the two men. Aided by dogs, drones – and at times, military aircraft – officers combed through thick forest and swampland.
The two men were murder suspects in the deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler and American Chynna Deese whose bodies were found in a ditch with gunshot wounds on 15 July, along a remote highway in British Columbia.
Fowler, the son of an Australian police inspector, was living in British Columbia and Deese was visiting him.
Four days later, Leonard Dyck, a university lecturer from Vancouver, was found dead along another remote highway, near a burnt-out truck used by the suspects.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with one count of second-degree murder in Dyck’s death and were suspects in the killing of Fowler and Deese.
The teenage pair fled from British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, covering almost 3,000km as they traversed prairie land and forest. Their silver 2011 Toyota RAV4 was found burnt out near the remote Manitoba town of Gillam on 22 July. Police say their bodies were eventually discovered 8km from the vehicle.
Despite the deployment of heavy resources, including the military, it wasn’t until police discovered a number of items linked to the men last week – including a dented metal boat – that they were able to locate the bodies of the two men.
Police also recovered two firearms during their search of the area where the two men were found. They have been conducting a forensic analysis of the weapons to determine if the guns are linked to the triple homicide in British Columbia.
While the autopsy results provide closure for the northern communities that nervously watched the manhunt unfold, there are still numerous questions over the killings.
McLeod and Schmegelsky grew up together on Vancouver Island and worked together at a local Walmart before they set off together on what their parents thought was a trip to Yukon for work. They were originally considered missing persons and only became suspects later.
Both men had links to an online gaming community that often used Nazi and communist symbols. Schmegelsky is alleged to have sent photographs of Nazi paraphernalia to an online friend and espoused far-right views, according to reports in the Globe and Mail in July.