British Columbia

Father of B.C. fugitive Bryer Schmegelsky views video clip of son's will

The father of one of two young B.C. men who became fugitives after allegedly killing three strangers in July has now seen part of a video his son recorded minutes before apparently taking his own life.

Al Schmegelsky not allowed to discuss contents of video due to non-disclosure agreement

Bryer Schmegelsky's Facebook profile image. (Bryer Schmegelsky/Facebook)

The father of one of two young B.C. men who captured worldwide attention as fugitives suspected of three murders has now seen part of a video his son recorded before apparently taking his own life. 

According to Al Schmegelsky's lawyer, RCMP provided the Victoria man an opportunity to view a 30-second clip on Thursday of a recording described as Bryer Schmegelsky's "last will and testament."

Lawyer Sarah Leamon said she and her client were allowed to watch the video after signing a non-disclosure agreement with police.

The deal prevents them from discussing the contents of the recording or even whether it was part of a longer recording that Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod recorded before dying in what appeared to be suicide by gunfire.

Leamon said they met police at a neutral location where Al Schmegelsky was given time to watch his son's last words.

"As you can imagine, this is a father watching something that's very difficult," said Leamon. "He was emotional, of course, as any father would be. It was a very emotional moment for him."

'How Bryer wanted his body dealt with'

The bodies of McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, who would have turned 19 on Aug. 4, were discovered on Aug. 7 near the Nelson River in northern Manitoba.

RCMP found the pair after an intense 15-day search which began with the seemingly random murders of Australian Lucas Fowler, American Chynna Deese and UBC lecturer Leonard Dyck.

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

Fowler and Deese were shot on July 14 or 15 at the side of the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs in northern B.C. Dyck's body was found four days later in a highway pullout near Dease Lake, about 500 kilometres to the southwest.

The truck Schmegelsky and McLeod were said to have been driving to Whitehorse was found on fire nearby. Police named the pair as suspects in the days after they were reported missing.

The hunt zoned in on northern Manitoba after a RAV4 was found burning near the community of Gillam, eight kilometres from the spot where the two young men would ultimately meet their deaths.

The existence of a final video has been reported, but RCMP have yet to discuss its contents.

In an earlier letter to Leamon, police said the video "has to do with how Bryer wanted his body dealt with after death, and that information was passed on to his mother, the next of kin."

'An emotional time for everybody'

Leamon said RCMP retained control of the video file at all times and did not give Al Schmegelsky a copy to keep for himself.

"It was in a private room where he was able to watch it himself," the lawyer said.

She was also present.

"It was an emotional time for everybody who was involved, and I'm sure it's going to be an emotional time moving forward."

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)

Leamon said she doesn't know if McLeod's family have also seen any portion of the video but she said that the battle to get access to the video — like every other part of the case — presented a set of unusual questions.

"Some of those questions have to do with the Wills and Estates Act and what constitutes a will in the province of British Columbia, and whether or not a holographic [video] will could be considered to be a valid will," she said. 

Many of those questions are unsettled, but Leamon said by arriving at an agreement with RCMP, Al Schmegelsky was able to avoid litigation.

Leamon said that RCMP wanted a non-disclosure agreement because they are continuing to investigate the case. She said police may release portions of the video to the public at a future date, at which point Al Schmegelsky would be able to talk about the contents.

She said she expects that a public inquiry into the case will occur in the future and that her client would participate. 

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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