The Canadian teenagers who led police on a multi-province manhunt after murdering three people in British Columbia died by suicide, officials said Monday.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced the results of an autopsy on Monday after the teens' bodies were found last week. The autopsy confirmed that the bodies were Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and that they died by self-inflicted gunshots, police said.
The murders of a US woman, her Australian boyfriend, and a Canadian botanist took place in July in northern British Columbia. On Aug. 7, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said officials located the teens' bodies more than a thousand miles away in “very, very dense brush” near the shoreline of the Nelson River in Manitoba.
“There’s obviously a certain amount of relief,” MacLatchy said, adding she hoped this brought closure for the families of the victims and the local communities in the region where the men were hiding.
“It’s huge to be able to, hopefully be able to, give some people an opportunity to exhale,” she said, “and eventually be able to go back to normal and not be afraid of who’s out in the woods.”
Autopsy results made public on Monday revealed that the teens had likely been dead for several days when their bodies were found. Two guns were found at the scene, and authorities are determining if they were also used in the murders.
Canadian investigators had initially treated McLeod and Schmegelsky as missing persons after their vehicle was found burning last month about a mile away from the body of Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old Vancouver botanist.
But the two teens were subsequently identified as suspects in Dyck’s death, as well as in the murder days earlier of an American woman and her Australian boyfriend who had been road-tripping in British Columbia.
Chynna Deese, 24, and Lucas Fowler, 23, were found shot dead on a highway near the blue van they’d planned to use to visit Canadian national parks.
News of the couple’s death made headlines in Canada, the US, and Australia, where Fowler’s father is a high-ranking police officer.
Investigators had concentrated their search for the pair in a remote, insect-infested stretch of Canada’s Manitoba province where survival was said to be extremely difficult.
MacLatchy said officers received a break in the case on Aug. 2 when they found unspecified items belonging to the two teens by the shore of the Nelson River, allowing them to narrow down their search area.