Canadian military steps in as search for B.C. murder suspects continues
The Canadian military has stepped in to help in the search for B.C. murder suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky after Mounties said someone may have "inadvertently" helped them leave the Gillam, Man. area.
Cpl. Julie Courchaine said 19-year-old McLeod and Schmegelsky, who is 18, may have changed their appearances and whoever assisted them may have not known who they are.
- Social media photo is not B.C. murder suspect Kam McLeod, police say
- Northern B.C. deaths: New video shows suspects in Meadow Lake, Sask.
"What our plea today is if anyone in and around those communities may have inadvertently helped them get out of the community…We're just asking them to come forward," she told reporters on Friday.
Later that day, the Department of National Defence said the Canadian Armed Forces will help Mounties in their search for the two young men.
"Following a request from the Commissioner of the RCMP, the Canadian Armed Forces will provide aircraft support in the search to locate two murder suspects near Gillam, Manitoba," the department said in an email statement, adding that the military was working with the RCMP to determine which resources were needed.
"Canadians can rest assured that the CAF are ready to support and serve alongside our federal, provincial, and municipal partners who are working diligently and tirelessly in these efforts."
Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale also tweeted about the request earlier in the day.
"In the criminal investigation of the two fugitives in northern MB, the RCMP have requested aircraft support from the Cdn Armed Forces. Prompt reply – YES," he wrote.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are wanted in connection with the deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese after their bodies were discovered on the side of a remote portion of the Alaska Highway in B.C.
McLeod and Schmegelsky have also been charged with second-degree murder in the death of UBC lecturer Leonard Dyck whose body was discovered over 400 kilometres away near the community of Dease Lake, B.C. close to where their first vehicle was found abandoned and burned.
While charges have been laid in the death of Dyck, investigations are still underway in the deaths of Fowler and Deese.
On Thursday, RCMP confirmed there had been two sightings of McLeod and Schmegelsky near Gillam—a small town of around 1,200 residents in northern Manitoba surrounded by unforgiving wilderness—earlier in the week. By Friday, there had been no additional sightings of the teens, Courchaine said.
Courchaine cited the "tough terrain" officers involved in the manhunt are having to navigate in the area, but wouldn't speculate on how the conditions might be affecting the suspects or their ability to move around.
The focus turned to the remote town after a burned out vehicle linked to the two teens was found nearby.
During a week of unprecedented police presence, Gillam's residents have witnessed an armoured RCMP vehicle driving around, extra officers in the area, road checks and police dogs being used as efforts to find the teens have increased. The RCMP's Emergency Response Team, Crisis Negotiation Team and Air Services assets have also been deployed to the area.
According to Courchaine, investigators will be canvassing the Gillam area door-to-door over the next 72 hours to gather any available information.
Police said they had received more than 120 tips by Friday afternoon.
Back in B.C., Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said efforts in the province are focused on the homicide investigations.
"Our priority at this point is of course those three homicide investigations in the north district and moving that towards the court process when Kam and Bryer are located," she told CTV News Vancouver Friday morning.
Meanwhile, Mounties are reminding the public to consider McLeod and Schmegelsky dangerous and to immediately contact 911 if they're spotted, rather than approaching the teens.
However, anyone who wants to reach police in the Gillam area needs to call 204-652-2200.
"It is critical that all Canadians remain vigilant," Courchaine said. "We need the public's help."
McLeod is described as 6'4", about 170 pounds, with dark brown hair and facial hair and brown eyes.
Schmegelsky is described as 6'4", about 170 pounds, with sandy brown hair.
Police say they may have changed their appearance.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott