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Sardine Cans, Sleeping Bags, And Suspicious Smoke: The Clues That Helped End Manhunt For Canadian Teen Murder Suspects

Two bodies found near a Manitoba river are believed to be Kam McLeod And Bryer Schmegelsky.

By Gina Tron
Manhunt Ends With Canadian Teen Murder Suspects Dead, Police Say

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Wednesday that the manhunt for two teens wanted in connection with three murders across Canada was over after two bodies were discovered near a Manitoba river. Now, the clues that led investigators to the bodies — believed to be Kam McLeod, 19 and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18 — are being revealed.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told reporters that several items found on the banks of the Nelson River were linked to the childhood friends. The bodies were found less than a mile from those items. While officials have not officially disclosed what the items were, residents whose tips helped authorities home in on the teens are speaking out to media about what they found and observed.

One such item may have been a blue sleeping bag caught up in some willows floating in the Nelson River, tour guide Clint Sawchuk told The Globe and Mail. He spotted the bag on Friday and called the RCMP to report it.

“I’m so happy that I made that call,” he said.

Not long after Sawchuk made that call, a search helicopter found a dented aluminum boat on the shore of the river. That find, also made Friday, led to a more focused search of the river’s shoreline and of the water.

A few days later, the bodies were found.

But before the shore was searched, investigators were led near that area after Fox Lake residents Tamara and Billy Beardy were out strawberry picking on July 22 and noticed some black billowing smoke. They called the police, they told the Globe and Mail.

The call led to a burned-out car in a ditch, located about five-and-a-half miles from where the bodies were later found. It was a car that belonged to one of the teens' alleged victims: 64-year-old Vancouver resident Leonard Dyck. 

The Beardys told the Globe and Mail that inside that car investigators found clues about the teens' time on the run: sardine cans, small propane bottles, forks, orange peels and partially eaten pork chops .

In addition to Dyck's murder, the two teens were suspected of killing American woman Chynna Deese, 24, and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, 23, whose bodies were found outside a remote community in northwest British Columbia on July 15. Dyck’s body was found on the side of the highway, roughly 290 miles away from where the couple was found dead. McLeod and Schmegelsky’s camper, which had also been burned out, was discovered nearby. 

The suspects have been described as best friends who met in elementary school. Schmegelsky's dad, Al Schmegelsky, said his son and McLeod had been working at Walmart together for over a month, but were not satisfied with the job, so they hit the road in search of something better.

After learning of the murders, Al Schmegelsky revealed his son was troubled and predicted that his time on the run was a “suicide mission, according to the Canadian Press.

It now appears that could be true. An autopsy has been scheduled in Winnipeg to confirm the identities and the manner of death for the two bodies.

“The search is over,” RCMP Manitoba tweeted on Wednesday.