Officials with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said at a press conference Thursday that there have been two “established and corroborated sightings” of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, near Gillam, a town of just over 1,200 people situated along the Nelson River in Canada’s northeast Manitoba province.
The national police force has deployed “a significant amount of resources” to the area, including an emergency response team, a crisis negotiation team and aircraft. A checkpoint has been set up on the only road in and out of the community. But the dense, boggy terrain is making the search for the suspects challenging, police said.
“At this point in the investigation, we believe they are still in this area,” Cpl. Julie Courchaine told reporters Thursday.
The most recent confirmed sighting occurred on Monday, just before authorities discovered a car on fire in the Gillam area. Police later confirmed that the burning vehicle was the same one McLeod and Schmegelsky were last known to be travelling in.
Investigators have received dozens of tips and are continuing to ask the public to “remain vigilant,” Courchaine said. People who spot the suspects are urged not to approach them but to contact local police immediately.
“This is a dynamic and unfolding situation,” Courchaine told reporters Thursday.
The duo is wanted on Canada-wide warrants for second-degree murder in connection with the death of a man whose body was found along a highway near Dease Lake in northwest Canada on July 19.
The teens’ truck camper was found in flames about 1.2 miles away from the body, which was identified as that of 64-year-old Leonard Dyck of Vancouver, according to police.
The teens, who are both Canadian, are also considered suspects in the shooting deaths of 24-year-old American Chynna Deese and her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, whose bodies were discovered on July 15 along a highway near Liard Hot Springs, also in northwest Canada.
Gillam, the town where the teens were most recently spotted, is some 2,000 miles east from where the three bodies were found last week.
The suspects’ families have not heard from them in days, police said.
In an emotional interview with The Canadian Press on Wednesday, Schmegelsky’s father said he believes his son, whom he described as an introvert, is on a “suicide mission” and intends to go out in a “blaze of glory” when police finally confront him.
“A normal child doesn’t travel across the country killing people. A child in some very serious pain does,” Alan Schmegelsky told The Canadian Press.
“Basically, he’s going to be dead today or tomorrow. I know that,” he added. “Rest in peace, Bryer. I love you. I’m so sorry all this had to happen. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t rescue you.”
Kam McLeod’s father told ABC News in a statement Wednesday that he’s “staying close to the phone because I don’t want to miss a call if it is word about Kam.”
“To the people who truly care; I am sitting at home worrying about my son. Relentless media [are] hounding us for answers we don’t have,” Keith McLeod said in his statement. “My family and I do know that Kam is a kind, considerate and caring young man who has always been concerned about other people’s feelings. As we are trapped in our homes due to media people, we try to wrap her head around what is happening. We hope that Kam will come home to us safely so we can all get to the bottom of this story.”