28 Sep 2019

Canadian police release findings of report into murders of three tourists

5:08 pm on 28 September 2019

Two dead teens who were the subject of an intense manhunt confessed to the murders of three tourists in northern Canada in their videos, but did not reveal a motive behind their actions or indicate remorse, police say.

Police released photos of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, from Port Alberni, British Columbia, who are considered main suspects in the slayings of 23-year-old Australian Lucas Fowler, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24.

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky used a victim's camera to make six videos confessing to their crimes, Canadian police say. Photo: AFP / Handout via Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The bodies of Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, were found on 7 August after a two-week-long search that began in northern British Columbia and ended in the remote and hostile terrain of northern Manitoba, three provinces and several thousand kilometres away.

The pair were first reported as missing after leaving their hometown of Port Alberni, British Columbia, in search of work. Within a week they were named as suspects in the murders of Chynna Deese, 24, an American tourist, and her partner Lucas Fowler, 23, from Australia.

Ms Deese and Mr Fowler were found shot on the side of a highway near Liard River Hot Spring, in northern British Columbia.

This undated photo released on July 19, 2019, courtesy of the Fowler family via the Facebook page of the New South Wales (NSW) Police Force shows Lucas Fowler (R) and Chynna Deese. -

Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler in an image released by Mr Fowler's family. Photo: AFP / Fowler family via NSW police

A third body, later identified as 64-year-old Vancouver university lecturer Leonard Dyck, was found approximately 500km away from Ms Deese and Mr Fowler's location. Schmegelsky and McLeod were charged with his death before they were found dead by suicide.

"The murders appear to be random and crimes of opportunity," Kevin Hackett, assistant commissioner with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in British Columbia, told a news conference.

He said that the working theory is that Schmegelsky and McLeod came across Mr Fowler's van, shot and killed him and Ms Deese, and continued up to the Yukon. Police believe they then returned to British Columbia days later due to vehicle issues, when they encountered Mr Dyck and shot him, stealing his car, money and personal belongings, "all of which facilitated further escape", Mr Hackett said.

The RCMP said Schmegelsky and McLeod made six videos confessing to the crimes on Mr Dyck's digital camera, although the videos do not contain information on motive or specifics of the murders.

The videos will not be released to the public, due to what Mr Hackett said was the potential for the footage to "inspire other individuals to carry out a targeted act of violence, essentially creating copycats".

Schmegelsky and McLeod "indicated no remorse for their actions and their intentions to potentially kill others," Mr Hackett said.

The manhunt captivated audiences around the world, and proved deeply upsetting for the small, remote communities in which they were sighted.

In a statement released by the RCMP, the Deese family thanked the general public for their "empathy and aid" during the investigation.

"No one ever wants to be a victim or wishes that for their loved one," the Deese family statement said. "Our beloved Chynna was a ray of sunshine... We hope Chynna's legacy continues to grow and her spark allows us to build each other up."

- Reuters