TORONTO (AP) — Canadian police said Monday they believe two teenage fugitives suspected of killing a North Carolina woman, her Australian boyfriend and another man took their own lives amid a nationwide manhunt.
The Manitoba Medical Examiner completed the autopsies and confirmed that two bodies found last week in dense bush in northern Manitoba province were indeed 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky. A police statement said they appeared to die by suicide.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia lecturer whose body was found July 19 along a highway in British Columbia.
They were also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose bodies were found July 15 along the Alaska Highway about 300 miles (500 kilometers) from where Dyck was killed. The couple had met at a hostel in Croatia and their romance blossomed as they adventured across the U.S., Mexico, Peru and elsewhere, the woman’s older brother said.
A manhunt for the teenage suspects had spread across three provinces and involved the Canadian military. The suspects had not been seen since July 22, and their bodies were found near Gillam, Manitoba — more than 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from northern British Columbia.
Police said in a statement McLeod and Schmegelsky were dead for a number of days before they were found, but said there were strong indications they had been alive for a few days after they were last seen. Two guns were located, and authorities are working to definitively confirm that the firearms are connected to the murders in British Columbia.
The British Columbia Prosecution Service said criminal charges don’t move forward if the person who has been accused is proven dead.
Police said items that were found on the shoreline of the Nelson River proved key in helping locate the suspects. Specialized teams began searching high-probability areas nearby, and on Wednesday morning, the two bodies were found within 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) of the objects.
The deaths of the three victims had shaken rural northern British Columbia and Manitoba.
Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky, said last month that he expected the nationwide manhunt to end in the death of his son, who he said was on “a suicide mission.”
McLeod and Schmegelsky grew up on Vancouver Island and worked together at a local Walmart before they set off on what their parents thought was a trip to Yukon for work.
They were originally considered missing persons and only became suspects later.
Police were investigating photographs of a swastika armband and a Hitler Youth knife that Schmegelsky allegedly sent online to a friend on the video-game network Steam.
Alan Schmegelsky said his son took him to an army surplus store about eight months ago in his small Vancouver Island hometown of Port Alberni, where his son was excited about the Nazi artifacts.