US & Canada

Canada manhunt: Suspects were let go after being stopped

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Media captionManhunt for suspected killers hits Manitoba

Two Canadian teenagers being hunted in connection with three murders were stopped more than a week ago by community constables, it has emerged.

Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were pulled over during a routine alcohol check but were allowed to continue as they had not yet been publicly named as murder suspects.

An extensive search of parts of remote Manitoba have failed to locate the men.

The pair have been on the run since leaving home nearly three weeks ago.

They were thought to have left their homes in Vancouver Island to head north to find work in Yukon territory. But after the discovery of three bodies - of a professor and, separately, a young couple in British Columbia - their journey, and the manhunt, has moved east, through Saskatchewan to Manitoba.

Where is the manhunt now?

Canadian police have spent the last few days searching the remote Manitoba community of York Landing, following a sighting of "two tall, slender individuals" near a landfill on Sunday. Members of the Bear Clan Patrol, an indigenous neighbourhood watch group who reported the sighting, said the men took off into nearby woods.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police have been going from house to house in their search for the wanted men

York Landing is accessible only by air or, in the summer, a ferry from Gillam, 90km (56 miles) north, where the pair was last seen. The whole area is surrounded by expanses of forest, bogland and waterways.

The town's roughly 500 residents were warned to remain vigilant and stay locked indoors "as much as possible" and to immediately report anything suspicious.

But after what police called a "thorough and exhaustive search" by air and on land, they said they were unable to "substantiate the tip". But police remain in the wider area.

Nathan Neckoway, a community leader at Split Lake, confirmed to Canadian media that Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky had passed through over a week ago on their way to Gillam, 170km east.

They had filled up with petrol, and were also stopped for alcohol checks by local constables policing what is a dry community. Only maps and camping equipment were found in the car, and the men were sent on their way.

"We weren't aware of their status, of them being wanted," Mr Neckoway said. "Apparently after they came to our community, that's when they sent out that wanted [status]."

How did the manhunt unfold?

Mr McLeod and Mr Schmegelsky were initially considered missing when their camper van was found burnt out near Dease Lake on 19 July.

A couple of kilometres away, police found the body of Leonard Dyck, 64, a botany lecturer at the University of British Columbia.

On 23 July, the teenagers were named by police as suspects in the deaths of Mr Dyck, and the fatal shooting of a couple a few days earlier just south of Liard Hot Springs. Chynna Deese, a 24-year-old American, and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, 23, had been on a two-week-long road trip across Canada when their bodies were found along the Alaska Highway.

Police have since charged Mr Schmegelsky and Mr McLeod with second-degree murder in the death of Mr Dyck, although no charges have yet been laid against them over the deaths of Ms Deese and Mr Fowler.

Image copyright New South Wales Police
Image caption Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler were killed sometime between 14 and 15 July
Image copyright RCPM
Image caption Mr Dyck's family said his death had "created unthinkable grief"

On the same day the men were announced as suspects, police said they had been spotted in a grey Toyota vehicle in Gillam, which has a population of 1,265. The car was later found burnt out some 55km east of Gillam.

The men have been described as "armed and dangerous", and the public are urged not to approach them.

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