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Canada scales back search for fugitive teen murder suspects

Kam McLeod (19) and Bryer Schmegelsky (18) are wanted in connection with three murders.

CANADIAN POLICE HAVE said they are scaling back the hunt for two teenage triple-murder suspects who vanished into the dense forests and swamps of Manitoba, in the centre of the country.

Two air force planes that joined the search last weekend for Kam McLeod (19) and Bryer Schmegelsky (18) are being withdrawn, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said, while police would also be reduced after nine days of scouring the area. 

“Over the next week, the RCMP will begin to scale down the scope of our search efforts in northern Manitoba,” said Jane MacLatchy.

“To be clear, we are not ending this search,” she added, noting that some “tactical and specialised assets” will remain in the area of Gillam, the village where the teen fugitives were last spotted.

They are wanted in connection with the murder of Australian Lucas Fowler (23) and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese (24) who were found shot to dead alongside the Alaska Highway in northern British Columbia two weeks ago. 

They have also been charged with the murder 64-year-old Leonard Dyck, a Canadian biology professor, whose body police found later also in northern British Columbia.

“Over the last week, we’ve done everything we can to locate the suspects,” said MacLatchy, adding that security forces had scoured around 4,250 square miles (11,000 square kilometers) of northern Manitoba. 

“We searched every home and every abandoned home in Gillam and Fox Lake Cree nations. We searched rail lines, vast areas of muskeg, dense forests, and brush,” she said.

“We conducted searches with dogs, drones, boats, and helicopters and planes. We used some of the most advanced technologies available and received assistance from some of the most skilled search and rescue workers in the country.”

The areas where the two young men were last seen is a vast and impenetrable landscape of thick forest, brush and swamps, swarming with biting insects and inhabited by bears. 

Only around 500 people live in the zone that was being searched, McLatchy said. 

“Even with this extraordinary effort, we have not had any confirmed sightings of the suspects” since their torched vehicle was found outside Gillam on 23 July, she added.

© AFP 2019  

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