The SUV stolen by Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky was found torched in northern Manitoba. (Submitted/Black Press Media)

UPDATE: SUV stolen by suspects in B.C. deaths found torched in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in connection to three deaths

The vehicle stolen by two teen suspects in three northern B.C. deaths has been found torched in Manitoba, RCMP confirmed Wednesday.

The grey 2011 Toyota Rav 4 the two suspects were driving was found in the Gillam area.

Residents of a remote northern Manitoba town are locking their doors earlier than usual after word of a police manhunt in the area for two suspects in the deaths of three people in northern B.C.

Deputy Mayor John McDonald said people in Gillam were also making sure their vehicles are locked while the RCMP search for 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky.

The teens are suspects in the killings of Lucas Fowler, 23, and Chynna Deese, 24, on July 15. The couple were travelling northern B.C. in their van. Fowler, originally from Australia, had been travelling the world when he reportedly met Deese in Croatia in 2017.

Later that week, on July 19, a burned truck belonging to McLeod and Schmegelsky was found 50 kilometres south of Dease Lake. The body of an unidentified man was found two kilometres away, in a highway pullout.

McLeod and Schmegelsky, who are from Port Alberni, were said to have been travelling to Whitehorse or Alberta to look for work.

READ MORE: Father of teen suspect in B.C. deaths: ‘I’m sitting at home worrying about my son’

READ MORE: Father of suspect in 3 B.C. deaths expects son will go out in ‘blaze of glory’

They have since been spotted in northern Saskatchewan before being seen near Gillam.

Residents in Gillam are used to seeing strangers come and go from Manitoba Hydro projects, McDonald said, but they’re paying closer attention to faces since the release of photos of the suspects and word Tuesday that both may be in the area.

He said extra officers have been brought in for a search focused about 70 kilometres northwest of the town near Fox Lake Cree Nation, where Chief Walter Spence has said police would be patrolling all night.

Gillam is about 11 hours north of Winnipeg and is a stop on the railway line that eventually leads to Churchill, Man. There is only one major road in and out of the area.

McDonald said if McLeod and Schmegelsky are there, they are in country known for its thick bush, swamps and pesky insects, and where it’s easy to get lost.

“If they are wandering around in the bush, they couldn’t have picked a worse time because the sandflies came out three days ago and they’re just voracious,” he said Wednesday.

“I’m quite sure they’ll be more than happy to have someone find them.”

The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., who represent First Nations in northern Manitoba, are also warning community members to be careful.

“I encourage residents in the area of Fox Lake to remain vigilant while the RCMP conduct their search for these two suspects,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a statement.

“If you think you see these suspects, please consider them as dangerous. Do not approach them. Contact the RCMP or call 911 immediately.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s incomprehensible’: Locals react to Port Alberni teens wanted for 3 deaths

Manitoba RCMP said they were working with B.C. Mounties.

“We have received numerous tips and information … and are continuing to ask for the public’s assistance” said Cpl. Julie Courchaine.

“If you see something suspicious, call police. We are also reminding everyone that these suspects should not be approached if seen and to call 911 or your local police immediately.”

An informational checkstop has been set up at an intersection on the only road leading into Gillam, RCMP said.

Speaking with reporters in Saskatoon, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said police are doing everything they can to track down the suspects.

“Obviously when violent incidents occur, we take it very, very seriously and we take all the necessary steps with the police and otherwise, to make sure that people can have confidence about their safety,” Goodale said.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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