Two teenage murder suspects who led authorities on a 15-day manhunt across Canada died of apparent suicide by gunfire, a medical examiner has revealed.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, police said the autopsies confirmed that the bodies found near the Nelson River outside Gillam, Manitoba, last week belong to fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19.
Officials said two firearms were found with the teens, who apparently died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
The statement said it is unclear when they died, but that ‘there are strong indications that they had been alive for a few days since last seen in July and during the extensive search efforts in the Gillam area’.
The discovery of the bodies concluded a 15-day manhunt that began in the western Canadian province of British Columbia and spanned about 3,100 miles across five provinces.
Schmegelsky and McLeod were the sole suspects in the murders of North Carolina backpacker Chynna Deese, 24, and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler, 23, as well as Vancouver botanist and father-of-two Leonard Dyck.
Forensic analysis is underway to confirm whether the firearms are connected with the three homicides.
Autopsies have revealed that teenage murder suspects Kam McLeod (left) and Bryer Schmegelsky (right) died by suicide after leading authorities on a 15-day manhunt in Canada
The bodies were found near the Nelson River outside Gillam, Manitoba, last week. Investigators are seen loading metal coffins with the remains into police vehicles
The bodies were found less than a mile from the Nelson River (pictured) outside of Gillam
McLeod and Schmegelsky reportedly left their hometown of Port Alberni, British Columbia, on July 12 after telling family members they were going to search for work in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Three days later on July 15 the bodies of Deese and Fowler, who were roadtripping across Canada, were found in a ditch beside their broken down 1986 Chevrolet van.
On July 19 Dyck was found dead on another BC highway some 300 miles away by Dease Lake. His Toyota RAV4 was missing and a Dodge pickup truck had been set on fire about a mile away.
Police determined that the Dodge belonged to McLeod, who had vanished along with his childhood best friend Schmegelsky.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported the teens as missing on July 19, fearing that they had been killed or kidnapped by whomever committed the murders of Deese, Fowler and Dyck.
On July 24, RCMP announced that Schmegelsky and McLeod were suspects in the three murders after the RAV4 was found in flames near Gillam, Manitoba.
The killers ate a last meal of sardines, pork chops and oranges before setting alight the car they had driven across five Canadian provinces and covered more than 3,000 miles with police hot on their heels.
Their final hide-out in a densely-wooded area was found after local tour guide Clint Sawchuk spotted a blue sleeping bag tangled in some willows in the Nelson River last Friday.
Police discovered a wrecked aluminium boat linked to the suspects on the river bank the next day.
The boat, together with the sleeping bag, burned-out car and scraps of pork and orange peels, formed a trail of evidence that led police to the bodies.
Half-eaten pork chops and orange peels were found alongside the teens’ burnt out car, which was found five miles from where their bodies were discovered
Officers came across a rowboat (pictured) on the banks of the Nelson River on Saturday
Officials initially refused to speculate about the cause of the teens’ deaths.
Local media suggested that the teens could have succumbed to the harsh terrain, where threats included water contamination, anaphylactic shock and dangerous predators ranging from bloodsucking flies to a variety of bears.
Residents living around Gillam who were on edge for over a week after the suspects were spotted in the area finally got some relief when the bodies were found.
While Schmegelsky and McLeod are currently the only suspects in the three murders, police say their investigation will not close until it is proven they were responsible.
Speaking in British Columbia on Wednesday, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett said there is ‘significant evidence’ linking the scene of Fowler and Deese’s death to that of Dyck’s death, but none linking the victims together and no proof the murders were targeted.
- If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.
- For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local branch. See www.samaritans.org for details.
- For confidential support in Australia LIFELINE: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
The body discovery concluded a 15-day manhunt that began in the western Canadian province of British Columbia and spanned about 3,100 miles across five provinces
Schmegelsky and McLeod are accused of killing American backpacker Chynna Deese (right) and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler (left), who were found dead on July 15
The body of botanist Leonard Dyck, 64, was discovered on July 19 on a BC highway a mile away from an abandoned and burning pick-up truck Schmegelsky and McLeod had been driving
SUSPECTED SERIAL KILLERS ON THE RUN IN CANADA: A TIMELINE
July 12: Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky leave their hometown of Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, to search for work in Whitehorse, Yukon, according to family members
July 15: Police find the bodies of Chynna Deese, a 24-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lucas Fowler, a 23-year-old from Sydney, Australia, on the side of Highway 97 about 12 miles south of Liard Hot Springs in remote British Columbia.
The blue 1986 Chevrolet van they were driving on their road trip through Canada is found nearby with a blown-out back window
July 18: McLeod’s torched Dodge pickup truck is found 300 miles away near Dease Lake
July 19: The body of Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old Vancouver botanist, is found about a mile away from the burned-out remains of the truck McLeod and Schmegelsky were traveling in.
RCMP reports the teens as missing, fearing that they had been killed or kidnapped by whomever committed the murders of Deese, Fowler and Dyck
July 24: Schmegelsky and McLeod are named as suspects in the three murders after the RAV4 was found in flames near Gillam
July 29: York Landing in Manitoba is thrown into lockdown after two men were spotted foraging for food at local landfill, sparking a massive search by police, military, tracking dogs and drones
August 1: Police begin searching the province of Ontario, 1,200 miles from where the pair were last seen, after reports of a suspicious vehicle near Kapuskasing
August 2: Police say the sighting of the pair in Ontario was not credible, as Lucas Fowler’s friends and family hold an emotional memorial for him in Sydney.
Local tour guide Clint Sawchuk spots a blue sleeping bag in the Nelson River outside Gillam and contacts police
August 3: Sawchuk’s tip leads police to a battered row boat washed up on the river bank
August 6: The search diverts to the town of Sundance, which has been abandoned since 1992, and once housed a murder suspect for three years
August 7: Canadian Police announce that two male bodies believed to belong to McLeod and Schmegelsky were found in ‘dense bush’ by the Nelson River, five miles from where they abandoned the burning car.
August 12: Autopsy confirms the teens died of self-inflicted gunshots