Canadian Murder Spree Teens — Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky

Bryer Schmegelsky (left) and Kam Mcleod (right)

In the summer of 2019, Canada was horrified to watch a murderous rampage unfold in the media. Two teens, Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, murdered three people in the span of less than a week.

Their motivations unclear, on July 12 the teens bought an SKS semi-automatic rifle and ammo at a Cabela’s store in Nanaimo, B.C. On July 15, the bodies of Chynna Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and her boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, 23, from Australia, were discovered near the Laird Hot Springs in BC.

Chynna and Lucas

Days later, after ditching their camper, they were seen in Northern Saskatchewan, shortly after they were seen in Manitoba.

After their camper was found, on July 19, the body of Leonard Dyck from Vancouver, BC was found a little over a mile away. Leonard was a UBC lecturer, described as someone that would give you the shirt off of his back. He would help anyone that needed it. He died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Police found bullets and shell casings near Leonard’s body that matched casings found near the Chynna Deese/Lucas Fowler murder site.

A strange encounter happened along the Alaska Highway, two days after the murders of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese. A traveler along the highway had pulled over to take a nap and noticed an “unknown male” carrying a rifle. When the man with the rifle started moving toward the witness in a “tactical or hunting stance”, the witness left the area quickly.

A burning car, found in the Gillam area of Manitoba, Canada, was also confirmed as belonging to the two teens.

This situation quickly became one of the largest manhunts in Canadian history. “This is a complex, ongoing investigation involving multiple jurisdictions,” said Cpl. Julie Courchaine, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The two teens evaded police by changing the appearance of Leonard’s Toyota RAV4 with tape made to look like racing stripes. On July 22, the RAV4 was found abandoned by the teens.

“We are struggling to understand what has happened”

Leonard Dyck

“We are truly heartbroken by the sudden and tragic loss of Len. He was a loving husband and father. His death has created unthinkable grief and we are struggling to understand what has happened,” Dyck’s family said in a statement released by police.

The Deese family issued a statement through the RCMP:

“Our beloved Chynna was a ray of sunshine, and for her to be taken has made the world feel a bit darker,” the statement said.

“The impact of such horrendous crimes was felt rippling throughout many communities, and we would like to express sincere gratitude to the general public for their empathy and aid during the investigation and manhunt.”

Chynna and Lucas

Lucas Fowler’s family stated in a Facebook post, “We struggle daily with what happened and fail to understand why. All we can do is remember our dear Lucas as a wonderful son and brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend.”

Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky said that his son was a “good kid” but added “I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m in disbelief. I didn’t see any signs of violence.”

When interviewed, Alan said that he didn’t even think his son ever even shot a real gun before, but did like to play war games in the woods with his friends using airsoft guns.

“That was their outdoor video game,” Alan said

They won’t be taken alive

The manhunt came to an abrupt end when the bodies of McLeod and Schmegelsky were discovered. The two teens killed themselves on a remote riverbank in northern Manitoba. It is believed that Mcleod shot Schmegelsky before shooting himself in a suicide pact. On their bodies was a digital camera, that belonged to Leonard Dyck. This camera held 6 videos and 3 pictures.

They had recorded videos days before killing themselves where they admitted to the killings in BC but didn’t give a reason why. In the longest video, the two teens admitted to killing Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, and Leonard Dyck. In one video they state that they have shaved their heads in preparation for their own deaths and “now plan to go back and kill more people and expect to be dead in a week.”

RCMP describe the videos as “cold” and said the teens were remorseless. They decided not to release the videos to the media, stating RCMP “believed that McLeod and Schmegelsky may have made the video recordings for notoriety and releasing them will be seen as an injustice to the victims and their families.”

After interviewing the pair’s friends and families, police have not come up with a motive for the murder spree. RCMP believe the two teens came across Lucas Fowler’s van and killed him and his girlfriend before heading north to the Yukon. After having car trouble, they returned to BC and murdered Leonard Dyck after running into him by chance. They torched the vehicles to delay police and destroy any evidence left behind.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

July 15 — The bodies of a man and a woman are found near a blue van on the Alaska Highway, also known as Highway 97, near Liard Hot Springs, B.C.

July 17 — RCMP say the deaths are suspicious.

July 18 — RCMP announce Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his 24-year-old American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, are homicide victims. Meanwhile, in Jade City, B.C., Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are spotted in a store where they stopped for free coffee. Jade City is about 350 kilometers from where the two bodies were found.

July 19 — Police announce the body of a man has been found two kilometers from a burned-out truck belonging to McLeod and Schmegelsky near Dease Lake, B.C. The two teens are missing. Dease Lake is about 470 kilometers from the first crime scene.

July 21 — McLeod and Schmegelsky are spotted in Cold Lake, Alta., where a local resident, not knowing who they are, helps them free a stuck Toyota Rav 4 they are driving. They are also captured on security camera footage at a store in Meadow Lake, Sask.

July 22 — Mounties say Fowler and Deese were shot. They release composite sketches of a man seen speaking with the couple on the highway where they were found dead and a sketch of the unidentified man found dead near the burned truck. Fowler’s father, an Australian police inspector, pleads for public help in the investigation. At the same time, band constables with Tataskweyak Cree Nation at Split Lake in northern Manitoba talk with McLeod and Schmegelsky at a check stop, unaware of who they are. The constables see camping gear and maps in their vehicle.

July 23 — RCMP announce Schmegelsky and McLeod are suspects in the three deaths. They released photos of the men and a 2011 grey Toyota Rav 4 they may have been driving. Fox Lake Cree Nation says a burned-out vehicle is found near Gillam, Man., about 170 kilometers east of Split Lake. Police search in that area.

July 24 — RCMP confirm the burned-out vehicle near Gillam is the Toyota Rav 4 the suspects are believed to have been driving. The third victim is identified as 64-year-old Leonard Dyck of Vancouver. He was a lecturer in the University of British Columbia’s botany department.

July 25 — Manitoba Mounties confirm two sightings of Schmegelsky and McLeod in the Gillam area. RCMP say the sightings, along with no reports of stolen vehicles, lead investigators to believe the suspects are still in the region. They say they are investigating a photograph of Nazi paraphernalia allegedly sent by Schmegelsky to another user on a video game network. Schmegelsky is also pictured in military fatigues brandishing an airsoft rifle and wearing a gas mask.

July 28 — RCMP descend on York Landing, an isolated community southwest of Gillam, after it’s reported the suspects were seen at the local dump.

July 29 — RCMP are unable to confirm the sighting and pull back to Gillam.

July 31 — Police announce they have done everything they can and are scaling back the search, although not ending it.

Aug. 2 — RCMP say they found a damaged rowboat on the Nelson River.

Aug. 4 — RCMP dive team conducts underwater search “of significant areas of interest.”

Aug. 6 — RCMP say they have found several items linked to Schmegelsky and McLeod on the shore of the Nelson River in northern Manitoba. The Mounties would not disclose what the items are but say they were found nine kilometers from the vehicle they were driving.

Aug. 7 — Police say they believe they have found the bodies of McLeod and Schmegelsky in dense brush in northern Manitoba. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said the bodies were found earlier in the morning near the shoreline of the Nelson River, within a kilometer of where several items linked to the two suspects were found

What brought these two kids to do these horrible things? We just don’t know. These teens were described as quiet loners with no violent tendencies. Were they just very good at hiding the darkness that was gathering inside them? Was it always there, or did something change to cause this violent rampage? These are questions we won’t ever get answers to. The boys did not leave behind any manifesto or note explaining their decisions.

One thing for sure, it was a very tense time to be traveling the roads in BC. Hopefully, one we don’t have to experience any time soon.

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