British Columbia

Schmegelsky, McLeod admitted to northern B.C. homicides before killing themselves, video footage reveals

In videos recorded days before they killed themselves, Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod said they were responsible for three killings in northern British Columbia — but provided no motive.

RCMP outline results of investigation into one of Canada’s largest manhunts

The bodies of tourists Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, left, were found near Liard Hot Springs, B.C., on July 15. UBC lecturer Leonard Dyck, right, was found dead four days later near Dease Lake. (New South Wales Police; University of British Columbia)

In a series of videos recorded days before they killed themselves, Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod said they were responsible for three killings in northern British Columbia, but provided no motive.

RCMP described the videos Friday as part of an overview of the investigation that led police on one of the largest manhunts in Canadian history this summer, as the two young men fled B.C. to the remote riverbank in northern Manitoba where they died.

"They were cold. They were remorseless, matter of fact," said RCMP Asst. Commissioner Kevin Hackett. 

A digital camera found with their bodies held six videos and three still images.

In the longest — at 58 seconds — police say Schmegelsky and McLeod admit to killing Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese and Leonard Dyck.

"Schmegelsky states that they are responsible for the three murders. They were going to march to Hudson Bay where they planned to hijack a boat and go to Europe or Africa," the police report says.

"These videos do not contain information regarding the motive behind their actions nor do they provide specifics regarding the murders."

The camera with the footage belonged to Dyck.

A still taken from surveillance footage released by the RCMP shows Kam McLeod, left, and Bryer Schmegelsky leaving a store in Meadow Lake, Sask., on July 21. (RCMP)

'Suicide pact'

The 13-page RCMP report provides a step-by-step recounting of an investigation which began on July 15 with a report that led to the discovery of the bodies of Fowler and Deese. 

Fowler, an Australian, and Deese, his American girlfriend, were touring the country when they were shot and killed near Liard River Hot Springs, B.C. 

According to the report, police found bullets and spent shell casings there of the same type they would find four days later and about 500 kilometres to the west near the body of Dyck, who died of a single gunshot wound.

Fort Nelson RCMP responded to a report about two bodies near Highway 97 on July 15 and found the blue van with the back window shot out. (RCMP )

Police say forensic analysis later showed that Schmegelsky and McLeod used the same two guns to kill Fowler, Deese and Dyck that they would later turn on themselves.

"It is believed that McLeod shot Schmegelsky before shooting himself in a suicide pact," the report says.

Watch the RCMP describe their findings in the investigation:

A police report into northern B.C. homicides says Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod recorded videos admitting to killing all three victims, but gave no motive for the crimes. 3:47

According to the police report, the young men — Schmegelsky was 18 and McLeod was 19 — bought an SKS semi-automatic rifle at Cabela's outfitters store in Nanaimo, B.C., on July 12, the same day they left Port Alberni, the Vancouver Island town where the pair grew up together. The source of their other gun is unknown.

The pair came onto police radar when McLeod's Dodge pickup truck was found burning outside Dease Lake on July 19 about an hour before police discovered Dyck's body nearby.

"Port Alberni RCMP conducted interviews with the McLeod and Schmegelsky families, who described them as good kids who were on a trip to northern British Columbia and Yukon to look for work," the report says.

Schemegelsky and McLeod purchased a 20-litre gas jerry can from a gas station in Whitehorse on July 15. The nozzle of the can was later found at the scene of the burnt truck. (RCMP)

A search of McLeod's truck on July 22 turned up a container of the same type of ammunition that was found at both crime scenes. And on the same day, a witness contacted RCMP.

"The witness knew McLeod and Schmegelsky and believed the boys may have been involved in the murders," the police report says.

"This is the first time that police learned that McLeod and Schmegelsky may be capable of the murders which conflicted with original witness statements from family and associates."

RCMP found the burnt truck on July 19, south of Dease Lake in B.C., with a burnt license plate registered to McLeod. A highway worker stopped at the scene and told police that he'd found a body about two kilometers away that same morning. (RCMP)

No remorse, no motives

It was at about this time that RCMP identified the two young men as suspects. But according to the investigation overview, the pair were far away from the crime scenes and British Columbia by that time — using electrical tape they bought at a store in Vanderhoof, B.C., to put racing stripes on the hood and back tire of Dyck's Toyota RAV4 in order to change the vehicle's appearance.

According to the police report, the RAV4 was found on fire near Gillam in northern Manitoba on July 22, the same day Schmegelsky and McLeod were identified as suspects. Police linked them to the vehicle and warned the public the next day, setting off the vast manhunt that would end with the discovery of their bodies two weeks later.

The police report also describes an odd encounter along the Alaska Highway, two days after the first killings, when a motorist who had pulled over to take a nap spotted "an unknown male" with a long gun. 

"The male … started moving towards the witness in a tactical or hunting stance," the report says. The motorist drove away. 

Surveillance video captured McLeod and Schmegelsky filling up at a gas station in Saskatchewan and driving a silver RAV4. They are believed to have put racing stripes on the hood and the back tire of the vehicle with electrical tape in order to change its appearance. (RCMP)

Videos won't be released 

RCMP say the pair took credit twice for killing all three strangers in the videos and never express any remorse. Police say they decided not to release the videos themselves after consulting with a forensic psychologist and leading expert in threat assessment. 

Officials "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," the report says.

Police say they have interviewed the pair's families, friends and teachers but have not come up with any motive.

The burning shell of an abandoned Toyota RAV4 linked to Schmegelsky and McLeod was discovered near Gillam in northern Manitoba. (Billy Beardy)

They believe that McLeod and Schmegelsky came across Fowler's van and killed the young man and his girlfriend before continuing up to Yukon. Investigators believe they had problems with their vehicle and then returned to B.C., killing Dyck for "unspecified reasons" after running into him by chance.

They believe the pair burned the vehicles to cover up evidence and delay police.

According to the report, in one of the last videos, Schmegelsky says they have shaved themselves in preparation for their own deaths and "now plan to go back and kill more people and expect to be dead in a week."

Luckily, there were no more victims.

Families' reaction 

RCMP say they gave the families of the victims the results of their investigation before speaking to the public.

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."

'Our beloved Chynna was a ray of sunshine,' Deese's family said in a statement Friday. (Fowler family/Facebook )

The family of Lucas Fowler — whose father described his relationship with Deese as a "tragic love story" —  also issued a statement. Fowler would have celebrated his birthday on Monday.

"We struggle daily with what happened and fail to understand why," his family wrote in a Facebook post.

"All we can do is remember our dear Lucas as a wonderful son and brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend."

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

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