The father of one of the teens suspected of three homicides in western Canada fears that his son is planning to “go out in a blaze of glory” as the manhunt for him and his friend intensifies.
“He’s on a suicide mission. He wants his pain to end,” Alan Schmegelsky tearfully told The Canadian Press.
His 18-year-old son Bryer Schmegelsky and 19-year-old Kam McLeod are suspected of killing three people along rural roadways, including American Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler, who were shot to death near their van outside Liard Hot Springs on July 15.
Authorities have also formally charged the pair with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, 64, whose body was discovered four days later near Dease Lake—just about a mile from where authorities found the vehicle Schmegelsky and McLeod had been driving abandoned and on fire.
Canadian authorities have launched an intense manhunt to find the two teens, who were sighted earlier this week in Manitoba, leaving the RAV4 they'd been traveling in also in flames, according to a statement the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Bryer Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky, believes the manhunt will likely end tragically.
“He wants his hurt to end. They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory. Trust me on this. That’s what they’re going to do,” he said.
Alan Schmegelsky said his son had a troubled childhood, enduring a difficult split between his parents in 2005 and then turning to video games and YouTube for comfort as a teen.
“A normal child doesn’t travel across the country killing people. A child in some very serious pain does,” he said.
Bryer grew up in Port Alberni with his mother and met McLeod in elementary school.
McLeod’s friend Branden McHale described McLeod was a happy person who loved video games, like League of Legends, according to CBC.
He said Bryer was the more quiet of the pair, but was outspoken among his close friends.
When Bryer was 16, he went briefly to live with his father in Victoria but later returned to Port Alberni to stay with his grandmother.
“He hasn’t been nurtured. He doesn’t have a driver’s license. He never learned to ride a bike. He craved love and affection,” Alan said. “His influences haven’t been good. His influences have been YouTube and video games.”
He said his son asked for an airsoft rifle for Christmas two years ago and would often battle with his friends in the woods, but also described regular camping trips and other “regular” everyday activities.
In a statement released Wednesday, Kam McLeod’s father, Keith McLeod, said his son was a compassionate person who'd always cared about others.
“This is what I do know—Kam is a kind, considerate, caring young man,” he said, according to CTV News Vancouver.
After high school, Schmegelsky and McLeod both got jobs at a local Walmart but those didn’t last long.
Schmegelsky texted his father on July 12 to tell him that the pair had decided to go find “real money” in Alberta, according to CHEK.
“They're just kids on an adventure, like, they’re good boys. They are really good boys,” Alan told the news outlet after the two teens had initially been reported as “missing” by authorities.
But, just days after the teens departed on their trip the bodies of Deese, 24, and Fowler, 23, were found along the rural highway outside Liard Hot Springs near their abandoned 1986 blue Chevrolet van that the couple had fixed up especially for their trek across Canada.
The couple had been “the victims of gun violence,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed.
Four days later, nearly 300 miles away, on July 19, Schmegelsky and McLeod’s camper van was discovered engulfed in flames and investigators discovered the body of an older male nearby.
Authorities identified the body as Dyck, a resident of Vancouver, on Wednesday.
The 64-year-old’s family has been left grief-stricken by the loss.
“We are truly heartbroken by the sudden and tragic loss of Len,” they said in a statement released by police. “He was a loving husband and father. His death has created unthinkable grief and we are struggling to understand what has happened.”
Initially after finding the burned-out camper van, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police classified Schmegelsky and McLeod as “missing” but later changed their distinction to “suspects” of all three murders.
Officials have provided few details about what made them reconsider the teens' alleged role in the crimes.
Authorities believed that after abandoning their camper van, the teens were traveling across Canada in a RAV 4, however, that vehicle was found on fire on Monday evening in the Gillam area of Manitoba, police said.
It’s not clear whether the teens have another vehicle, but officials have set up road checks in the area and said both teens are considered dangerous.
“The two may being using a different vehicle, on foot or even traveling separately. If they are spotted, do not approach, call 9-1-1 or your local police immediately,” police said.
McLeod’s father is hopeful the teens will be apprehended peacefully.
“(We) hope that Kam will come home to us safely so we can all get to the bottom of this story,” he said.
Schmegelsky’s father is less optimistic about a peaceful end to the teens' time on the run and had a different heartbreaking message for his son.
“Rest in peace, Bryer. I love you. I'm so sorry this all had to happen. I'm so sorry that I couldn't rescue you,” he said.
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