Hunter nabs father wanted in Merritt slayings: RCMP

After 308 tips from the public and with help from a local hunter, a father identified by the RCMP as the prime suspect in the deaths of his three children in Merritt, B.C., was in police custody Wednesday.

Allan Schoenborn 'in pretty rough shape' when found

After 308 tips from the public and with help from a local hunter, a father identified by the RCMP as the prime suspect in the deaths of his three children in Merritt, B.C., was in police custody Wednesday.

Kim Robinson, a hunter in Merritt, B.C., says he captured Allan Dwayne Schoenborn Wednesday morning. (CBC)

A "backcountry expert" phoned Merritt RCMP Wednesday morning after he captured Allan Dwayne Schoenborn, 40, who had been at large for the past nine days, Sgt. Scott Tod said.

"Schoenborn was arrested without incident," Tod said at a press conference Wednesday evening. "He was immediately taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, where he was examined by a physician and treated for dehydration."

RCMP received 308 tips from the public during their search for Schoenborn and have "no reason to believe there's another suspect involved" in their investigation, Tod said.

A local resident on his daily walk saw a man matching the description of the suspect but didn't have a cellphone with him, Tod said.

"He walked away from the area and came across a second local resident who has extensive backcountry knowledge. The second resident was in the area searching for the suspect on his own," Tod said.

RCMP Sgt. Scott Tod tells media Wednesday that Allan Dwayne Schoenborn was arrested without incident and police are not actively seeking other suspects in the death of three children in Merritt, B.C. ((CBC))

Hunter Kim Robinson told CBC News he captured Schoenborn around 10 a.m. Wednesday. Robinson said he'd been looking for the suspect for two to three hours in the morning every day.

"I did not track him [Schoenborn] to the spot. I've been looking for him and somebody told me they've seen somebody. They told me I should phone the police. I said, 'I'll go see what he is.'

"[Then I] got the guy and made him stay there and got the cops," Robinson said. "He looked like a piece of skin over bones — I didn't feel he was any threat to me."

Schoenborn was "in pretty rough shape," Tod said, adding that there was no evidence at the scene or during the arrest that he had attempted suicide.

Merritt hunter Kim Robinson says contrary to reports, his dog, Blaze, didn't bite off part of Allan Schoenborn's arm when he captured him. ((CBC))

Police said they don't know where Schoenborn was for the past 10 days or if he had travelled around the Hamilton Hill area.

"He denied who he was at first," Robinson said. "He was a lot more afraid than I was."

Contrary to an earlier media report that said Robinson's tracking dog, Blaze, chewed off part of Schoenborn's arm, "the dog did not get a chunk of him," he said.

Robinson, who carried a gun, also said he didn't tie Schoenborn up.

"I just told him don't move," Robinson said, adding that he then called police with his cellphone and stayed with Schoenborn until RCMP arrived.

Allan Schoenborn, the father of three children found dead in a Merritt, B.C., home on April 6, is in police custody. ((RCMP))

Robinson said he took it upon himself to hunt for the suspect. He also said he had offered four or five days ago to help the RCMP in their search but police said they didn't need him at that point.

Robinson claimed to know "every nook and cranny" of the forested hills around Merritt, including every cave — there are several — and every cabin in the area.

Schoenborn is identified by police as the prime suspect in the killing of Kaitlynne, 10, Max, 8, and Cordon, 5, whose bodies were discovered by their mother inside their trailer home on April 6.

Merritt expresses relief

The ranching community of Merritt, about 270 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, was breathing a sigh of relief Wednesday, Mayor David Laird said.

Laird said it's no surprise the suspect was picked up in the bush.

"When you look at what the RCMP have released, it's obvious that he [Schoenborn] didn't travel very far," Laird said.

"[He has] no valid driver's licence. Nothing is reported stolen in the community as far as vehicles are concerned," he said.

The three children attended Diamond Vale Elementary. Byron Robbie, the school superintendent for the region, told CBC News that with the arrest, they can get operations back to normal.

"[We] have two police officers, our own security and extra staff at the school, so the school itself has been very secure and very safe for kids," he said Wednesday.