Canadian police scale back Manitoba search for murder suspects

Kam McLeod (19) and Bryer Schmegelsky (18) are charged with killing university lecturer and suspected of murdering two tourists

Kam McLeod (19) and Bryer Schmegelsky (18) from Port Alberni, British Columbia. Photograph: AFP Photo/ handout Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Kam McLeod (19) and Bryer Schmegelsky (18) from Port Alberni, British Columbia. Photograph: AFP Photo/ handout Royal Canadian Mounted Police

 

Canadian police said on Wednesday they are scaling back a week-long search for two teenagers charged with killing a university lecturer and suspected in the murders of two tourists.

The intensive search in the in the northern Manitoba wildernessarea for Kam McLeod (19) and Bryer Schmegelsky (18), both of Port Alberni, British Columbia, was sparked by two sightings around the tiny Manitoba town of Gillam last week.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are cutting back the number of officers to 40 from a previously undisclosed number, and the Canadian military and air force, which had been supporting the police, are pulling out, the RCMP said.

“I know that today’s news is not what the victims’ families and the people of Manitoba wanted to hear,” assistant commissioner Jane MacClatchy told a news briefing.

“However this is always a possibility when searching in vast rugged areas in terrain that is difficult.”

Police have combed 11,000sq km (6,835sq miles) of the area, canvassed 500 homes and searched empty buildings, employing dogs, drones and “some of the most advanced technologies available”, Ms MacClatchy said.

“While the search in northern Manitoba is being scaled down, it is not over and will not stop until there is a resolution.”

Police charged Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky last week with the second-degree murder of Leonard Dyck (64), a botany professor whose body was found near the teens’ abandoned flaming car in Dease Lake, British Columbia, on July 19th.

The pair, who were first reported missing, are also considered suspects in the murders about 500km (310 miles) away of Chynna Deese (24), of Charlotte, North Carolina, and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler (23), from Sydney.

The manhunt has been going on for more than a week, crossing 3,000km from the crime scenes in British Columbia to northern Saskatchewan to Manitoba.

“It’s a tough place to find someone who doesn’t want to be found,” Ms MacClatchy said. “I think we’ve done everything we can. We pulled out all the stops on this thing from the instant we found out about it.”

The RCMP said the suspects may have received assistance in leaving the Gillam area and appealed for public to come forward with any tips, no matter how insignificant they might seem. – Reuters