RCMP have searched and cleared more than 100 empty homes in northern Manitoba, and are continuing the search of abandoned buildings, including a 600-room worker camp, in the hunt for two B.C. teens charged with murder.
Officials in Manitoba gave a brief update Saturday afternoon, saying there have been no new sightings or information to indicate Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky have fled the area.
A CC-130H Hercules airplane and military personnel arrived in Gillam today to help Mounties with their aerial search of the area. Police are also combing the dense forest around Gillam.
“RCMP officers have started to canvass every home and building in the Gillam area as well as Fox Lake Cree Nation. The canvass began earlier this morning and is expected to last for another 48 hours,” RCMP said in a statement.
“In addition to the canvass, over 100 empty homes have been thoroughly searched in the Town of Gillam. Officers are also searching large abandoned buildings like the Keewatinohk Converter Station Camp, near Gillam, which has over 600 rooms.”
McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, are charged with second-degree murder in the death of 64-year-old Leonard Dyck of Vancouver. Dyck’s body was found at a highway pullout two kilometres from where the teens’ burned-out Dodge pickup truck was found on Highway 37 near Dease Lake on July 19.
The pair are also suspects in the killings of 23-year-old Lucas Fowler of Sydney, Australia, and 24-year-old Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina. Their bodies were discovered July 15 beside the Alaska Highway, 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs. No charges have yet been announced in that investigation.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were last seen in the Gillam-area on Monday, before the discovery of a burning Toyota Rav4 in which they were reportedly travelling.
The vehicle was found on fire near the Fox Lake Cree Nation reserve north of Gillam. RCMP said Thursday that there had been no reports of stolen vehicles in the area that could be attributed to the teens and investigators believed they were still in the area.
On Friday, RCMP acknowledged the pair might have changed their appearance and left the area.
“It is possible that someone may not have been aware of who they were providing assistance to, and may now be hesitant to come forward,” Cpl. Julie Courchaine said.
“I want to reiterate the importance of contacting police immediately.”
Manitoba RCMP have set up a highway check-stop and flooded the area with officers from the western provinces and Ontario.
The force’s major-crime unit, emergency-response team, crisis-negotiation team, police dogs and aircraft have been deployed to assist with the search around Gillam, which is 730 kilometres north of Winnipeg and has a population of about 1,265.
— With a report from the Times Colonist.