Two bodies found Wednesday in rural Manitoba may be those of two missing teen suspects wanted in the murder of an American woman and her boyfriend, who were discovered shot to death last month after their car broke down on a Canadian road trip.
Victims Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and her boyfriend Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia, were traveling through British Columbia in their 1986 Chevrolet van when their bodies were found on a desolate stretch of highway on July 15, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement.
Suspects Kam Mcleod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, went missing shortly thereafter — and on July 19, nearly 300 miles away, authorities encountered a burned truck that they alleged had been abandoned by the pair, according to the RCMP.
That same day, authorities also discovered the remains near the truck of another man, later identified as a University of British Columbia lecturer Leonard Dyck, by Dease Lake.
Police quickly identified the teens as suspects wanted for questioning in all three deaths.
While police looked for them, McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s death.
According to the RCMP, Associated Press and the BBC, authorities had been able to narrow their search for the fugitives after finding items linked to them last week near the bank of the Nelson River in Manitoba. The bodies found Wednesday were discovered in dense brush, in a location about five miles from where the burned-out vehicle had been located.
“We are confident that these are the bodies of the two suspects wanted in connection with the homicides in British Columbia,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, according to AP.
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The search is over. At 10am this morning, Manitoba RCMP officers located the bodies of two males, believed to be the BC suspects, near the shoreline of the Nelson River (approx 8km from the burnt vehicle). #rcmpmb pic.twitter.com/tZ7EBFsNDr— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) August 7, 2019
Their identities and cause of death will be confirmed by an autopsy.
Fowler was living in British Columbia at the time of his death. Deese was visiting him to travel and explore the area.
Deese’s mother, Sheila, told WSOC that the couple had planned to travel through the Canadian countryside while visiting all the national parks.
“They had mapped out their route,” she told the outlet. “And to my understanding, the van broke down and that’s where tragedy happened.”
“She loved people. She didn’t meet a stranger, but she was cautious,” she said. “It’s tragic when someone dies, but when they’re in another country, you can’t go and be near them. You can’t be face-to-face and ask questions or go and see where it happened. I don’t want it to happen to someone else. I do want to find the person who did it.”
MacLatchy said she hoped the recovery of the possible suspects’ remains would bring relief to those shaken by the crimes, whether families of the victims or residents of the areas where the crimes unfolded.
“It’s huge to be able to hopefully give some people the opportunity to exhale,” she said, reports AP, “and to hopefully go back to being normal and not be afraid of who is out in the woods.”