Canada has further escalated its nationwide hunt for two teenage murder suspects after police issued a request for aircraft support from the country’s armed forces.
Former Walmart employees Bryer Schmegelsky, 18 and Kam McLeod, 19, who had a road-trip dream of “making some real money” in northern Canada, remain on the run from police after the alleged gruesome killings of Australian traveller Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, on July 14 in the western Canadian province of British Columbia.
They are also accused of murdering University of British Columbia botanist Leonard Dyck, 64, in BC before driving more than 3000km east to the remote town of Gillam, Manitoba, where the population stands at 1265.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police are “exploring the possibility” that the teenage accused killers and longtime school friends, who lived in Port Alberni near Vancouver, may have fled Gillam where they were last spotted, with the help of a third person.
An aggressive search by the RCMP, SWAT teams, sniffer dogs, drones and aircraft for McLeod and Schmegelsky continued in the town and surrounding wilderness on Friday local time.
With no confirmed sightings of the duo outside of Gillam, the RCMP believes they still likely remain in the area, but are open to the possibility they may have changed their appearance and someone inadvertently assisted them to leave.
In an escalation of the search late on Friday, Public Safety Minister in
Saskatchewan Ralph Goodale tweeted that investigators have asked for air support from the Canadian Armed Forces.
“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.
“[The RCMP] have reallocated resources to bring in extra personnel, new technology in the form of drones and otherwise, that are helping with the surveillance and the search,” Mr Goodale said.
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.
— Ralph Goodale (@RalphGoodale) July 26, 2019
On July 18, the pair were spotted at the Cassiar Mountain Jade store north of Dease Lake for free coffee the shop hands out to motorists.
On Friday, to help generate more public leads after receiving only 120 tip-offs so far, the RCMP released CCTV footage of the pair on July 21 cruising through a Cold Lake supply store and leaving a short time later empty-handed. They had made no attempt to disguise themselves or shy away from security cameras.
The RCMP also began door-to-door visits of homes and businesses in an attempt to glean new information from locals.
“Over the next 72 hours investigators will conduct door-to-door canvases in the town of Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation in hopes of generating new tips and information,” Corporal Julie Courchaine said.
“Residents in these areas can be assured that we are activating all necessary resources to protect the public and officer safety.”
Gillam locals say their town is “at the end of the line” and there is no way out for the pair, believed to be hiding out in amongst the dense bush, thick forest and impenetrable swamp. The area is known habitat for wolves and bears and there is growing doubt the pair will survive much longer.
Corporal Courchaine told Global News the live search operation was continuing to expand its resource base, bringing in drones and other agencies.
“We do have lots of resources, not just from Manitoba but from outside from other provinces,” she said Friday. “Obviously it’s tough terrain. Our officers are searching kilometres into dense forest, muskeg [swamp] and all that so it is tough.”
Schmegelsky and McLeod have now been on the run for 14 days since their horrific crime spree began.