Former Sudbury, Ont., man helped B.C. homicide suspects just 2 days before they were wanted
Search continues for fugitives Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky in connection with 3 homicides
A former Sudbury, Ont., man now living in Alberta helped two men get their vehicle out of the mud just a couple of days before they became the subjects of a Canada-wide hunt in connection with three homicides in British Columbia.
On Sunday, July 21, Tommy Ste-Croix of Cold Lake was visiting his brother in the northeastern Alberta city around 9:30 a.m. MT when his brother's wife mentioned she saw a vehicle stuck in a muddy field on a nearby property, half an hour after first noticing it.
Around 10 a.m., Ste-Croix decided he would go out to help the two get the vehicle out of the mud.
"Mom and dad's going to be pissed," Ste-Croix told the two men as he drove up. He said he figured they were local teens out for a rip in their parents' Toyota RAV4, which was stuck and covered in mud.
"They looked at me and said, 'No, mom and dad told me to go for a long joy ride," Ste-Croix said.
He said the three of them then laughed.
"You could tell they were nervous."
Ste-Croix said the men thanked him, shook his hand and told him their real names: Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky. That same day, the two were reportedly seen driving the same-year Toyota RAV4 in Meadow Lake, Sask., about 150 km east of Cold Lake.
Just two days later, Manitoba RCMP announced McLeod and Schmegelsky, who had just been considered missing, were in fact suspects in the B.C. homicides.
A previous CBC story quoted RCMP as saying a man in Cold Lake, whose name they haven't released, came across the pair and their vehicle. Police said the man helped two men pull out the RAV4 and after a "short, unremarkable interaction," the pair set off.
On July 23, two days after Ste-Croix had helped them, he realized while on social media who he had assisted.
RCMP have not publicly identified the individual who spotted the pair in Cold Lake. CBC News has reached out to police for additional information, but has not heard back.
"I couldn't believe it. My jaw dropped," Ste-Croix said. He then notified police about his encounter with the two.
"They were polite with me. You know if they really, really wanted me, I could be dead," he said.
"They had the opportunity to grab the truck. I was alone with them. I was behind the SUV tying it up and they pretty much had a brand new truck to take off with. My wallet was in there. But they didn't."
That RAV4 Ste-Croix helped yank out of the mud in Alberta was found burnt out days later in northern Manitoba, where the police search for the men has been concentrated for more than a week.
"I hope they get caught, turn themselves in [and] face the consequences if they did do it and let justice do its thing," Ste-Croix said.
With files from Waubgeshig Rice