Canada deploys divers in search for fugitive teen murder suspects

Montreal (AFP) - Canadian police said Sunday they sent a team of divers to a river in Manitoba, to join the weeks-long hunt for two teenage triple-murder suspects.

Five members of the federal Underwater Recovery Team were sent to Gillam in northern Manitoba to conduct a "thorough underwater search" in the area, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement.

They were deployed after RCMP officers spotted a damaged aluminum boat by the Nelson River during a Friday helicopter search, the statement said.

The discovery of the boat comes days after police said they were scaling back the search for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, which at its peak involved tracker dogs, a drone and search planes equipped with infrared cameras.

The teens are wanted in connection with the murder of Lucas Fowler, 23, of Australia, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, who were found shot dead alongside the Alaska Highway in northern British Columbia on July 15.

The teens have also been charged with the murder of Leonard Dyck, 64, a Canadian biology professor, whose body police found later also in northern British Columbia.

The RCMP did not specify which part of the 373 mile-long (600 kilometers) river they were searching, nor did they allow media access to the search area or to the divers.

The divers arrived Saturday in Gillam, the suspects' last-known location.

The fugitives wound up in the Gillam region, located more than 620 miles north of Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, after driving more than 1,864 miles from British Columbia.

The area is a vast and impenetrable landscape of thick forest, brush and swamps, swarming with biting insects and inhabited by bears.

Police had searched the region with a fine-toothed comb since July 25, before announcing this past week they were scaling back the search effort.

"Even with this extraordinary effort, we have not had any confirmed sightings of the suspects" since their torched vehicle was found outside Gillam on July 23, said RCMP spokeswoman Jane MacLatchy during a press conference Wednesday.

MacLatchy added the RCMP had not ruled out the possibility that the two suspects were already dead, or that they had altered their appearances and managed to slip out of the region.

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