The RCMP confirmed on Monday the two bodies found in northern Manitoba last week belong to the two young men who triggered a nation-wide manhunt, and that they had committed suicide.
“The RCMP can also confirm that the two died in what appears to be suicides by gunfire,” said BC RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts in a news release, following autopsies by the medical examiner in Manitoba.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, both of Port Alberni, had been on the run after they were declared suspects in the deaths of 64-year-old Leonard Dyck, a botany lecturer at UBC, and tourist couple Chynna Deese, 24, of North Carolina, and Lucas Fowler, 24, of Australia.
Two guns were found with the bodies, Roberts added. Forensic analysis is underway to confirm whether they’re the same weapons used in the northern B.C. killings.
Dyck’s body was discovered near a highway pullout near Dease Lake on July 19, close to a torched vehicle that police said McLeod and Schmegelsky had been driving. Their families said they left Port Alberni to look for work in the Yukon. The pair had been charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s death.
Deese and Fowler were found shot to death on Highway 97 near Liard Hot Springs on July 15.
The fugitives had been dead for multiple days by the time they were found, Roberts said, but the exact time of death is not clear. It does appear, however, that they had been alive for a few days since the last confirmed sighting of them near Gillam, Man., on July 22.
Next of kin have been notified and offered support, she said.
Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said Monday she hoped the autopsy results and other information released by RCMP would answer some of the questions facing families struck by the tragedy.
“There may never be enough information to adequately answer all of their questions, but our council remains committed to supporting the RCMP as they complete their investigation into what led to this tragic series of events,” she said.
The RCMP have finished their search of the area where the bodies were discovered on Aug. 7, about eight kilometres from where Dyck’s burnt-out Toyota RAV4 was found on July 22.
Mounties are now processing all items found in Manitoba, and promise to provide the families, and then the public, with their findings in the next few weeks.
– With a file from The Canadian Press