The hunter who captured the fugitive suspect in the slaying of three children in Merritt, B.C., says he did not believe he had found the right man when he first saw the gaunt suspect sleeping in the woods with his dog.
Kim Robinson became a media celebrity overnight when, after nine days of searching, he captured Allan Dwayne Schoenborn in the hills a few kilometres outside town on Wednesday morning.
Robinson, a well-known bear and cougar hunter in the Merritt area, also breeds hunting dogs which he sells. In 2001, he was convicted of two charges of trafficking in bear gall bladders for illegally selling the gall bladders of bears he had legally killed. His hunting licence was suspended for four years.
Robinson eventually found Schoenborn after another man walking his dog in the area told Robinson he thought he had spotted the fugitive.
Robinson, armed with a gun and accompanied by his hunting dog Blaze, went in search of the suspect and came across Schoenborn sleeping in the woods with his own dog at his side.
Initially Schoenborn's dog tried to attack Robinson, but he said, "I grabbed the dog, threw him in my truck and chained him up."
"He tried to bite me but I gave [him] a shot to tell him who's boss. I didn't want that big ugly bugger of mine chewing him up," said Robinson, referring to his own bull mastiff.
"I did thump his dog once when he was trying to bite me, but I did not hurt him. I was just trying to let him know that I was not the right guy to try and bite," Robinson told the CBC on Thursday morning.
Once he'd taken care of the dog, he turned his attention to the emaciated man who now seemed quite scared.
"I thought he was some kind of drug addict. I even asked him that, 'What kind of dope are you on that has peeled all your meat off you?'" said Robinson.
He then told the fugitive to stay put, while he called police on his cellphone and told them he had a suspect in custody.
But he still did not believe it was Schoenborn.
"I had assumed it wasn't him, because he looked like a shell of a man," said Robinson.
But the police gave him some information, which he has not revealed, that allowed him to confirm that the gaunt man in front of him was actually the suspect in the nine-day hunt for the killer of the three Merritt children.
"We talked for 15 to 20 minutes. And what about? That's the stuff I'm not supposed to yak about," said Robinson, referring to instructions he received from the RCMP not to discuss certain details of the incident.
Robinson described the recent media attention he gained for finding the suspect as a nightmare and said he had no special motivation for personally taking on the hunt for Schoenborn.
He had previously told the CBC that he had been spending several hours each morning searching for the suspect.
"It wasn't a matter really of wanting to take it on. Right now I'm not doing anything. I have the wherewithal. I got a four-wheel-drive truck. I got dogs I'm used to listening to," said Robinson.
"The cowboys have a saying: you don't have to listen to your wife, but you gotta listen to your horse. Well I feel that way about some of my dogs, eh," he said.
When asked if he blamed the RCMP for not finding Schoenborn earlier, Robinson said it was unfair to fault police, adding that he had searched the same area earlier in the week without success, and that he believed Schoenborn may have moved into the area overnight.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Merritt said he's surprised Schoenborn survived ten days in the bush.
David Laird said it has been cold, and he doubted Schoenborn had bush survival skills.
Laird said he always believed Schoenborn was nearby, because there had been no reports of stolen vehicles.
He also defended the RCMP when asked whether he was surprised the Mounties didn't find the suspect.
"No it's not surprising. There are 10,000 people in our community that knew what he looked like, and they were watching along with the RCMP members, and it was not surprising," said Laird.