RCMP answer burning questions about McLeod, Schmegelsky, 3 northern B.C deaths
More than two months after three bodies were discovered in northern B.C., Mounties revealed information from their investigation into teen suspects Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod.
The pair are accused of killing tourists Lucas Fowler and Chyna Deese and B.C. resident Leonard Dyck in July.
A manhunt spanned three provinces and about three weeks, until the bodies of McLeod and Schmegelsky were found near Gillam, Man. Police say the teens died in a suicide pact, stating that McLeod first shot Schmegelsky then took his own life.
In their report, RCMP answered some of the questions the public had been asking over the past two months.
Do we know for sure that McLeod and Schmegelsky are responsible for the three deaths?
When the bodies of McLeod and Schmegelsky were found, questions were raised about whether police will be able to confirm their role in the three deaths. Police say they found a digital camera near the teens' bodies and at least two of the videos on the camera showed them confessing to all three deaths.
The RCMP's report also says that "based on the firearms lab results, similar offence pattern, timelines of suspects and admissions from McLeod and Schmegelsky, no other suspects are responsible for the three homicides."
What was the motive?
The RCMP report says they found no evidence of pre-planning or motive when they searched the teens' home in Port Alberni in late July. There also wasn't any indication of motive in any of the videos.
Instead, a statement from Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett says they "uncovered no information that predicted or forecasted the homicides that took place in northern B.C.," adding that "the murders appear to be random and crimes of opportunity."
The RCMP's investigative theory is that McLeod and Schmegelsky came across Lucas Fowler's van and targeted him and Chynna Deese for unknown reasons. They believe the two had vehicle issues and came across Leonard Dyck outside of Dease Lake and shot and killed him. They then took his vehicle, money and some personal items.
Will the videos be shown?
In August, about 10 days after their bodies were found, a clip reportedly showing McLeod and Schmegelsky's "last will and testament" was shown to family members. It was never shown to the public.
With information about other video clips revealed, will the clips be released? Police say no.
"The videos may influence or inspire other individuals to carry out a targeted act of violence, essentially creating copycat killers. In (the RCMP Behavioural Analysis Unit's) experience, those who commit mass casualty attacks or similar acts of violence are heavily inspired by previous attackers and their behaviours," the RCMP report says.
"It is believed that the suspects may have made the video recordings for notoriety. Releasing them would not only be disrespectful to the families of the deceased – who are also concerned about the impacts of the release – and it could sensationalize the actions of the suspects.
"By not releasing the videos we want to mitigate the potential of other individuals being inspired to commit similar acts of violence. For these reasons, the videos will not be released to the public by the RCMP."
Why did it take so long for the pair to be named suspects?
McLeod and Schmegelsky were named suspects in all three deaths on July 23. But why wasn't this done sooner? Police say that on July 22, they got a wave of new information within a matter of hours that shifted their position on the teens. Even so, they had an investigative process to follow, had to assess the new information and inform detachments before going public.
Why weren't McLeod and Schmegelsky stopped at the Split Lake check stop?
Reports suggesting McLeod and Schmegelsky may have passed through a check stop near Split Lake, Manitoba raised some questions. In their findings, Mounties explain that the two were in fact stopped by a band constable, but it was the day before the two were named suspects.
"A silver SUV was coming from the direction of Thompson and drove past the band constable, but stopped eventually," the RCMP report says. "The band constable dealt with the two males and allowed them to continue on their way. The following day the band constable realized both males were McLeod and Schmegelsky."
How many officers worked on this case?
Hackett says up to 160 police officers worked extended shifts on the investigation until McLeod and Schmegelsky's bodies were found. They received over 1,500 tips from the public and thousands of hours of surveillance recordings were reviewed and analyzed.
"I would like to thank our RCMP colleagues in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for their support as well as all of the other law enforcement agencies that offered assistance. In particular, I would like to once again acknowledge the RCMP in Manitoba who lead an exhaustive and challenging search in that province," Hackett said in a statement.
"I would also like to thank the public, whether it was the hundreds of individuals who came forward with information, the individuals, businesses or agencies who assisted our investigators on the ground in northern B.C. and the other communities that were directly impacted."