June 3, 2020

Winnipeg
7° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

'The manhunt is on here:' Manitoba chief talks about search for murder suspects

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/7/2019 (310 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

YORK LANDING, Man. - Doors were locked, roads were empty and people were on edge, said a chief in northeastern Manitoba as armed police officers searched the area for two suspects in killings in British Columbia.

"The manhunt is on here," York Factory Chief Leroy Constant said Monday.

"Until these suspects are caught or our area deemed safe that fear will still remain."

RCMP received a tip Sunday just before 5 p.m. that two men matching the descriptions of Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, were spotted near a dump in York Landing, a small community along the Nelson River.

Accused killers Bryer Schmegelsky (left) and Kam McLeod are the subjects of a massive manhunt in and around Gillam. (RCMP handout)

Accused killers Bryer Schmegelsky (left) and Kam McLeod are the subjects of a massive manhunt in and around Gillam. (RCMP handout)

The duo are charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of British Columbia professor Leonard Dyck. They are also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, whose bodies were found on the Alaska Highway in northern B.C.

Members of the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group, reported the sighting to police, but said the two men took off into nearby woods when they were seen. Their identities have not been verified.

Despite extensive efforts, the tip could still not be substantiated by Monday afternoon, RCMP said in a tweet. But the search was continuing.

Constant said there are some 30 officers in the remote community of 500, along with a dog team, emergency response teams, helicopters and armed searchers on all-terrain vehicles.

The last confirmed sighting of the two suspects was a week ago in Gillam, another remote community roughly 90 kilometres northeast of York Landing.

Before that, the pair were also spotted in Split Lake, a community about 170 kilometres west of Gillam.

Nathan Neckoway, a councillor for Tataskweyak Cree Nation at Split Lake, said the two men fuelled up at a local gas station. They also went through a checkstop and were questioned by band constables who did not know at that time the men were murder suspects.

The men had camping gear and maps in the back seat of their vehicle, Neckoway said in an online message.

"This is scary to hear how easily these guys were travelling from Western Canada and now in our territory."

York Landing is only accessible by air or a two-hour ferry crossing in the summer. There's also a rail line that runs 25 kilometres south of the community.

An RCMP officer shines a light into an open garage at a home in the Gillam, Man., area in July 27, 2019, police image published to social media. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Twitter, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, @rcmpmb, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

An RCMP officer shines a light into an open garage at a home in the Gillam, Man., area in July 27, 2019, police image published to social media. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Twitter, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, @rcmpmb, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Constant said he would be surprised if the pair made it to his community on foot because the northern terrain is treacherous.

"You would have to go many miles to reach anything," he said.

"One of the challenges is it's heavily wooded and we are primarily surrounded by water … there's only limited areas they can access."

A burned-out Toyota RAV4 investigators said the suspects were travelling in was found last week near Gillam.

Police said on the weekend that they had received more than 200 tips over the course of five days, but none convinced investigators that the pair had left the bug-infested and bog-strewn landscape.

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are seen in this still frame obtained from video captured from a store in Meadow Lake, Sask on July 21, 2019. Helicopters, a plane, heavily armed officers and police canine units descended on a northern Manitoba community following a tip that two B.C. homicide suspects were spotted in York Landing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are seen in this still frame obtained from video captured from a store in Meadow Lake, Sask on July 21, 2019. Helicopters, a plane, heavily armed officers and police canine units descended on a northern Manitoba community following a tip that two B.C. homicide suspects were spotted in York Landing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Cpl. Julie Courchaine said Monday that the York Landing tip was credible and that's why resources have been focused on that area. Isolation, distance, difficult terrain and darkness have made the search difficult, she added.

"It's northern Manitoba so it's challenging terrain, lots of forest, lots of muskeg, waterways, everything like that," she said.

"However, our number one priority again is to find these individuals."

A Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft equipped with high-tech thermal detection gear joined the search over the weekend. Police also used drones and tracking dogs while officers went door to door checking every home and abandoned building.

People in York Landing were encouraged to remain vigilant, stay indoors and keep their doors and windows locked, said Courchaine.

"We are still looking at every possibility in this investigation," she said.

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us