TORONTO (AP) — Police said Thursday there have been two sightings of the suspects in the slaying of an American woman, her Australian boyfriend and another man in the Gillam area of Manitoba and they are believed to still be nearby.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Julie Courchaine said authorities have corroborated the sightings of 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky. She said the sightings were prior to Monday evening’s discovery of a burned-out vehicle the suspects were driving.
Courchaine said there have been no reports of stolen vehicles that could be attributed to the suspects and that is why authorities believe the men are still in the Gillam area.
She described the terrain there as unforgiving. “There’s lots of dense bush, forest, swampy area, so it is very challenging,” she said.
Gillam is more than 2,000 miles from northern British Columbia, where another burned vehicle was found Friday and where the three people were found slain in two places.
The victims have been identified as American Chynna Deese, 24, Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and Leonard Dyck, 64, of Vancouver. McLeod and Schmegelsky have been charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s death, whose body was discovered a week after Deese and Fowler were found shot dead.
McLeod and Schmegelsky themselves had originally been considered missing persons and only became suspects in the case Tuesday.
Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky, said Wednesday that he expected the nationwide manhunt to end in the death of his son, who he said is on “a suicide mission.”
The separate discoveries of three bodies and burning cars have shaken rural northern British Columbia.
During the investigation, police found Dyck’s body roughly a mile (about 2 kilometers) from the first burned-out vehicle.
That was about 300 miles (500 kilometers) from the spot along the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs where Deese and Fowler were found over a week ago.
Fowler, the son of a chief inspector with the New South Wales Police Department, was living in British Columbia and Deese was visiting him.
Police also said Thursday that they were investigating a photograph of Nazi paraphernalia allegedly sent online by one of the suspects. Schmegelsky allegedly sent photographs of a swastika armband and a Hitler Youth knife to an online friend on the video-game network Steam.
Alan Schmegelsky said his son took him to an army surplus store about eight months ago in his small Vancouver Island hometown of Port Alberni, where his son was excited about the Nazi artifacts.
“I was disgusted and dragged him out,” the father told Canadian Press. “My grandparents fled the Ukraine with three small children during the Second World War.”
Alan Schmegelsky said he didn’t believe that his son identified as a neo-Nazi, but that he did think the memorabilia was “cool.”
The father, who is estranged from the teen’s mother, explained that he didn’t see his son between the ages of 8 and 16, and during that time the boy came under the mistaken belief that he had Russian heritage.
He said his son is a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.
“I argued with him about that, in a friendly manner,” the father said. “He liked strong speakers.”