Murder suspects died of 'suicides by gunfire,' autopsy results suggest: BC RCMP
Published Monday, August 12, 2019 9:39AM PDT Last Updated Monday, August 12, 2019 5:32PM PDT
Police say the two B.C. murder suspects, whose bodies they found last week near Gillam, Man., died of suicide by gunfire.
According to the BC RCMP, autopsies on the bodies of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod in Winnipeg confirmed the identities of the teenage murder suspects.
Police also confirmed they found two firearms with the bodies and are working to "definitively confirm that these weapons are connected with the northern B.C. homicide investigations."
McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, from Port Alberni, were charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of British Columbia botany lecturer Leonard Dyck, whose body was discovered on July 19 just south of Dease Lake.
They were also wanted in the double homicide of a young tourist couple – Australian Lucas Fowler and American Chynna Deese. Their bodies were found a few days earlier July 15 along the Alaska Highway, about 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs.
The pair led police on a manhunt that spanned over two weeks and four provinces, with investigators heavily focusing on an area outside of Gillam, where police say they discovered a burned out Toyota Rav4 they believe the teens were driving back on July 22.
It's not clear how long the suspects survived in the rugged bush, but RCMP say there are strong indications they'd been alive for a few days after the last sighting.
In a news release they added both had been dead "for a number of days" before they were found, and that "the exact time and date of their deaths are not known."
Retired RCMP Insp. Linda Gillis Davidson told CTV News she was not surprised the suspects had killed themselves, but added that with their deaths, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done.
Rob Creasser, another retired RCMP officer, was hopeful the guns could be linked to one or both of the B.C. crime scenes.
"They can do ballistics and determine that yes, that was the same gun used at the crime scene involving the two young people," Creasser said.
Police now say they've finished searching the area where the two bodies were found.
"Did they find a cellphone?" Davidson asked. "Who did they talk to at the end, if they did?"
With the manhunt officially over, RCMP said their focus will be on assessing all the evidence, not limited to forensics, statements, timelines and digital evidence, and have brought in behaviour experts as part of the analysis.
Police said within a few weeks they are committing to providing both the families and the public with an update on the "totality of the investigation."
The BC RCMP's Dawn Roberts told CTV News that update will be based on facts and evidence, and acknowledged that already complex questions about motive have grown even more complicated since the suspects' deaths.
Still, Roberts said investigators will try to get a more solid understanding of the "why" behind the murders, and to share those details publicly.
"Unfortunately, there will probably be no complete closure for everybody involved in this," added Creasser.