VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A search around the area of a remote northern Manitoba community has failed to find two teenagers who are suspects in the murder of three people in British Columbia, but police continued to urge local residents to stay inside Monday and lock their doors.
RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchaine told a news conference in Winnipeg that the agency received a tip Sunday afternoon that Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky may have been spotted in York Landing — about 55 miles (90 kilometers) from Gillam, where a vehicle that had been used by the suspects was found burned last week.
“It is critical that residents of York Landing remain vigilant and stay indoors as much as possible with their doors locked, and to report anything suspicious by calling their local police immediately,” Courchaine said.
McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia professor, whose body was found last week in British Columbia.
They are also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose bodies were found July 15 along the Alaska Highway about 500 kilometers (300 miles) from Dyck’s killing.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the Royal Canadian Air Force was assisting with the search.
On Monday afternoon, the RCMP tweeted they still have not been able to verify if the two teens are in the area.
“After a thorough & exhaustive search, #rcmpmb has not been able to substantiate the tip in York Landing. RCMP resources will continue to be in the York Landing & Gillam areas,” the tweet said.
“We thank the community for their patience & understanding & ask them to continue to be vigilant.”
Police earlier had been searching further east in the town of Gillam, aided by tracking dogs and drones.
The tip about the possible sighting came from members of the Bear Clan Patrol, an indigenous-led neighborhood watch group that was invited by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to help ease residents’ fears.
While York Landing geographically isn’t far from Gilliam, Courchaine said the community is “only accessible by air or via a two hour ferry crossing in the summer.” There also is a rail line around 25 kilometers (15 miles) south.
The area has “very challenging terrain, lots of forest, lots of muskeg, waterways,” said Couchaine.
Meanwhile, the father of one of the suspects has sent a book to reporters describing his mental health, harassment convictions involving his ex-wife and his relationship with his fugitive son.
Alan Schmegelsky said the book titled “Red Flagged” is a novelization of actual events and fictionalizes some incidents.
He said he sent the book to reporters to highlight how a “broken system” has shaped him and his son.
“My son and I have been treated like footballs. It’s time for some truth,” he said.
He writes that he was arrested by Victoria police on Aug. 4, 2008, his son Bryer’s 8th birthday, three years after his acrimonious split with the boy’s mother.
Court records show he was charged with criminal harassment in December 2008. He was found guilty of the lesser offence of disobeying a court order.
He returned to court numerous times over the next decade on charges of harassment and breach of probation.
Schmegelsky says he does not currently have a permanent residence and has been homeless for about two years, staying primarily in Victoria.
He has said that he did not see his son between the ages of 8 and 16, at which age his son briefly lived with him in Victoria and they worked in construction together for a summer.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report