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22 Aug 2019 16:28
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  •   Home > News > International

    What we know about the teenagers suspected of murdering Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese

    The young fugitives being hunted by Canadian police over the killing of Australian tourist Lucas Fowler are childhood friends who left their hometown just days before in the hope of finding work in northern Canada.


    Canadian police have revealed two teenagers first thought to be missing are now suspects in the murder of Australian tourist Lucas Fowler, his girlfriend Chynna Deese and a third man, 64-year old Leonard Dyck.

    Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, have been missing since July 19 — the same day Mr Dyck's body was found 2 kilometres from the teenagers' burning pickup truck.

    The vehicle was found in flames about 500 kilometres from where Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were found dead, near Dease Lake in British Columbia.

    So, what do we know about the duo and how the case unfolded?

    Who are they and why were they on the Alaska Highway?

    Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky are childhood friends from Port Alberni, a small city located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the Vancouver Sun reported.

    Mr Schmegelsky's grandmother, Carol Starkey, told the news outlet the pair left Port Alberni on July 12 to find work in Whitehorse in the Yukon — some 600 kilometres north of where their burning pickup truck would be discovered a week later.

    Alan Schmegelsky, Bryer's father, added the duo had been working night shifts at Walmart in Port Alberni to save money for the trip.

    "They're best friends who did everything together," Mr Schmegelsky told the Vancouver Sun.

    "They were just out on an adventure."

    Ms Starkey, who last had contact with her grandson on July 13 or 14, said Whitehorse was not what the best friends had expected, and they decided to leave.

    She said she did not know where the pair had planned to go after departing the Yukon.

    Where did they go next?

    After leaving the area, the duo headed back into British Columbia.

    Their exact movements are not publicly known, but police believe the pair may have crossed paths with Mr Fowler and Ms Deese near Liard Hot Springs, some 650 kilometres south-west of Whitehorse, on July 14 or 15.

    Police do not believe Mr Fowler or Ms Deese were known to the pair.

    Employees at the Cassiar Mountain Jade Story in Jade City, about 350 kilometres west of Liard Hot Springs, reported seeing Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky on Thursday, July 18, according to the Vancouver Sun.

    The next day, their burning pickup truck was found about 115 kilometres south, in Dease Lake at a highway stopping point, while the body of an unidentified man since confirmed to be Mr Dyck was discovered nearby.

    The duo were reported missing after failing to contact their families.

    How did they become suspects and where are they now?

    On Wednesday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officially named Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky as suspects after they were spotted in northern Saskatchewan — more than 2,000 kilometres east of Dease Lake.

    Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said the pair were "no longer considered missing" in light of the recent developments, and they were now suspects in the murders of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese and the unidentified man.

    She said there had since been another confirmed sighting of the pair in the small town of Gillam, some 1,000 kilometres north-east of Saskatchewan in the neighbouring province of Manitoba.

    "We do believe they are dangerous, with respect to armed we cannot say what weapons they may, or may not be in possession of," Sergeant Shoihet said.

    She said the pair were seen driving a grey 2011 Toyota RAV4, which has since been found burning just outside Gillam.

    Here's what we know about how the case unfolded

    July 12 - 14: Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky travel to Whitehorse

    The duo left their hometown of Port Alberni, in southern British Columbia, and travelled more than 2,000 kilometres north into the neighbouring territory of Yukon on July 12, family members told the Vancouver Sun.

    They set out with the intention of finding work in Whitehorse, the outlet reported, but discovered the city was not what they expected and decided to leave.

    July 13: Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese are sighted on CCTV

    CCTV footage showed Mr Fowler and Ms Deese at a service station in British Columbia two days before their bodies were found.

    Police said the footage was recorded on July 13 at Fort Nelson — a small community situated east of the northern Rocky Mountains in the Peace River region along the Alaska Highway.

    The couple are seen cleaning and filling up the blue minivan, and warmly embracing during the pit stop.

    July 14: Two tourists claim to have spoken with the couple

    A tourist couple who may have been among the last people to see Mr Fowler and Ms Deese alive said they pulled over to help the "happy and smiling" couple, who were with their van which had broken down.

    Curtis and Sandra Broughton said they were heading home along the Alaska Highway after visiting Liard Hot Springs on Sunday, July 14, at 3:20pm when they spotted the minivan on the side of the road.

    "They seemed like they kind of had it under control. It was mechanical issues with the van," Mr Broughton told Canadian news outlet Global News.

    Mr Broughton said the pair was having a picnic and he assumed they were waiting for the van to unflood, before trying to restart it.

    July 15: Mr Fowler and Ms Deese are found dead

    The bodies of Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were discovered on Monday, July 15, on the Alaska Highway, about 300 kilometres west of Fort Nelson and about 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs.

    Canadian police confirmed the couple had been shot, and believe they were killed sometime between July 14 and 15.

    They want to speak with anyone who may have travelled in the area of Liard Hot Springs and on the Alaska Highway between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

    July 18: Witnesses report seeing 'missing' teens

    Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky were spotted at the Cassiar Mountain Jade Store in Jade City, about 350 kilometres west of Liard Hot Springs, the Vancouver Sun reported.

    Owner Claudia Bunce said the teenagers had visited the store for free coffee and were on their own.

    "I don't think they stood out any more than any other teenage boys who were just on the road," she told the outlet.

    July 19: A burning pickup truck and third body are discovered

    The Dodge pickup truck driven by Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky was found on fire at a highway stopping point at an area known as Dease Lake in British Columbia — about 115 kilometres south of Jade City.

    A body, which has not yet been identified by police, was found around 2 kilometres from the scene.

    The teenagers were reported missing after failing to contact family members.

    July 22: Police appeal for help in search for teens

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) launched an appeal for information to find the teenagers, and conceded there were "growing community concerns".

    "Kam and Bryer have periodically connected with family and friends over the past week and it is possible that they are now in an area without [mobile phone] coverage," RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts said.

    "We are asking for Kam or Bryer to connect with police right away and let us know you are OK."

    July 23 - 24: Teenagers named as suspects in three murders

    Canadian police revealed the two teenagers first thought missing were now suspects in the murder of Mr Fowler, Ms Deese and the third unidentified man found near their vehicle.

    Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said they were advised yesterday Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky had left British Columbia and were spotted in northern Saskatchewan.

    "Given these latest developments, Kam and Bryer are no longer considered missing," she said.

    Sergeant Shoihet said there had since been another confirmed sighting of the pair in the small town of Gillam, some 1,000 kilometres north-east of Saskatchewan in the neighbouring province of Manitoba.

    She said the pair were seen driving a grey 2011 Toyota RAV4, but warned they could have since changed their appearance and their vehicle.

    July 25: Charges laid for Mr Dyck's murder as father speaks out

    While remaining suspects for the murders of Mr Lucas and Ms Deese, Mr Schmegelsky and Mr McLeod have been charged with the murder of Mr Dyck after his body was identified as the one found 2 kilometres from their burning car.

    The search for the pair has shifted to the Gillam area, a town whose own mayor described it as "the end of the road".

    Mr Schmegelsky's father Alan spoke to Canadian media, warning his son and his childhood friend were likely to go out "in a blaze of glory".

    "He's on a suicide mission," Alan Schmegelsky said.

    "He wants his hurt to end."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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