Body found near missing B.C. teens' burning truck still not identified
Published Monday, July 22, 2019 12:26PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 23, 2019 12:26PM PDT
July 23 update: The missing teens are now considered suspects in the death of a man found near their truck and in the double homicide of a U.S. woman and an Australian man.
Police are still trying to identify the remains of a body found near a burning pickup truck in northern B.C. last week as they search for the teens who were driving the vehicle.
At a news conference, the B.C. RCMP asked the public to help them figure out who died at a highway pullout about two kilometres from the truck.
The male is described as being white and between 5'8" and 5'10". He had a heavy build, a grey beard and grey hair, and was between the ages of 50 and 60.
Police released a sketch of the man Monday, hoping someone might recognize him.
As part of the investigation, they've set up a new tip line. Members of the public are asked to contact investigators at 1-877-543-4822, or the Major Crimes line at 778-290-5291.
While his identity is not yet known, they were able to confirm he was not either of the young men who were driving the truck.
It is not yet known whether the death is connected to the vehicle or the missing teens.
The grisly discovery was made Friday by Mounties called to the scene of a truck fire on Highway 37 near the Stikine River Bridge, about 50 kilometres south of the small northern B.C. community of Dease Lake.
Police said the body was located at a highway pullout about two kilometres south of the vehicle.
In a statement issued two days later, officers said the body did not belong to either of the young men believed to have been driving the truck.
Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are from Port Alberni and were travelling through B.C. toward Whitehorse, the RCMP said. It appears they returned to B.C., but Mounties said they did not know why.
The 19- and 18-year-olds had been looking for work, and were driving a red and grey Dodge pickup truck with a sleeping camper on the back.
The teens periodically checked in with family and friends, a spokesperson said, and it's possible they're now in an area without cellphone coverage.
However, the discovery of their vehicle prompted police to reach out, asking McLeod and Schmegelsky to let someone know they're OK.
For now, the disappearance is being treated as a missing persons case, the RCMP said Monday.
"Right now we're using all conventional techniques including air services, police dog services and search and rescue to search for the missing men," Cpl. Chris Manseau said.
Police also ask anyone who had seen or spoken to them in the days following their disappearance to contact them, or leave a tip anonymously through Crime Stoppers.
Both teens are described as about 6'4" and 170 pounds. McLeod has dark brown hair, facial hair and brown eyes. Schmegelsky has sandy brown hair, police said.
The truck they were in has the B.C. licence plate LW6433. The teens were last seen travelling south from the Super A general store in Dease Lake at around 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, a day before their truck was found.
Speaking to reporters Monday, the mayor of Port Alberni described the incident as a "tragic situation."
"Our thoughts are really just going out to the boys and their families and hoping that they're found safe and sound as soon as possible," Mayor Sharie Minions told CTV News.
"In a small community, when something like this happens everybody feels it, and we're all worried about where they are."
Mounties added that they're aware that some have voiced concerns about safety in northern B.C. following the discovery Friday and two bodies found earlier the same week on the Alaska Highway.
Officers stressed that the incidents occurred several days and hundreds of kilometres apart.
Investigators working on the cases said they're sharing information, but did not say the cases are linked.
Mounties also provided an update on the double homicide of an Australian man and his American girlfriend at the news conference Monday.
Premier John Horgan also weighed in on the concerns Monday, saying, "Whenever you have a fatality in a community, particularly one under mysterious circumstances, it gives the public pause."
He said British Columbians should continue to enjoy all that the province has to offer, but should be cautious and safe.
"To the families, our deepest sympathies, and to those who are here to enjoy a holiday, continue to enjoy your holiday," Horgan said.