The Current

As hunt for 2 men rocks Northern B.C. community, some are 'thinking twice' about hiking, camping trips

The bombshell revelation that two men initially considered missing are now the main suspects in the deaths of three people in Northern B.C. is a "step towards closure" for residents, a CBC journalist says.

Childhood friends Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are main suspects in deaths of 3 people

An RCMP officer sift through evidence from the scene of the burnt-out truck on B.C.'s Highway 37. The vehicle belonged to suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky in a string of deaths. (Chris Corday/CBC)
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The bombshell revelation that two men initially considered missing are now the main suspects in the deaths of three people in Northern B.C. is a "step towards closure" for residents, a CBC journalist says.

"Some of that fear that someone might still be out there along the highways in Northern B.C. is gone," said reporter Andrew Kurjata, who has been covering case. 

On Tuesday, the RCMP named Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, as suspects in the homicides of a young tourist couple gunned down last week, as well as the suspicious death of another man whose body was found near the friends' burnt-out truck days later.

Although it's believed McLeod and Schmegelsky have left British Columbia and may still be on the move — with sightings in northern Manitoba — the alleged killings have left many on edge where police suspect they took place.  

McLeod, left, and Schmegelsky, right, from Port Alberni, B.C., are suspects in the homicides of a young couple gunned down in mid-July and in the suspicious death of another man whose body was found near the men's burnt-out truck days later. (B.C. RCMP/Alan Schmegelsky)

"I've spoken to people who are thinking twice about their hiking plans or their weekend camping trips while these investigations are still underway," Kurjata told The Current's guest host Anthony Germain

The string of deaths, as well as the accompanying Canada-wide warrant and mystery, highlight the isolated nature of the region, Kurjata explained.

"Lots of people drive along these long, northern highways for work [and] to visit family. Expectant mothers who live in Fort Nelson, south of Liard, have to make the trek several hours away to get maternity care in hospitals," he said.

The thousands of tourists drawn to the region's pristine wilderness must take safety precautions before setting out, he advised.

Cell coverage is close to non-existent and calling 911 is not an option, Kurjata explained. When it comes to driving a long stretch of single-lane highway, rest areas a "few and far between." 

"Many of them are just pullouts along the highway rather than a gas station or a restaurant where you might talk to another person," he said.


Written by Amara McLaughlin, with files from CBC News. Produced by Imogen Birchard, Adam Killick and Aruna Dutt.

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