The search is on for two teens who vanished after their pickup truck was found on fire along a Canadian highway in the same region where an American woman and her Australian boyfriend were shot dead.
It had been several days since the families of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, had heard from the young men when investigators discovered their vehicle ablaze south of the Stikine River Bridge on Highway 37 on Friday.
The young men, both from Port Alberni in British Columbia, were traveling to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory to look for work and may have been without cellphone service for portions of the trip, officials said.
Investigators could find no signs of McLeod or Schmegelsky.
However, a body was discovered a little over 1 mile away at a nearby highway pullout. The body was not either of the missing teens, investigators said, but instead that of a third, unidentified man. Officials are determining if the body is at all connected to the case, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
McLeod and Schmegelsky’s disappearance comes days after the bodies of Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler were found along Alaska Highway 97 near Liard Hot Springs, authorities said.
Deese, a 24-year-old American, and Fowler, a 23-year-old Australian, were taking a road trip through the country when they were shot dead.
The couple of about two years are believed to have been killed either last Sunday or Monday morning, when their bodies were found. A blue Chevrolet van, which authorities believed to be the couple’s, was found nearby.
Australian police said they were told the couple was shot in “what can only be described as horrific circumstances.”
Two motorists said they saw the couple before they died, telling Network Ten it appeared their van had broken down.
“To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was travelling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating,” Fowler’s family said in a statement. “To know his beautiful girlfriend … also lost her life in this violent event is too cruel.”
Deese’s sister also released a statement about the devastating loss.
“Instead of watching you enjoy your thriving life, I can only carry your legacy in mine, and encourage others to do the same,” she wrote. “I will miss you every moment. And love you forever, best friend.”
A total of five people have so far been declared missing or murdered in Northern British Columbia, but police said they do not know if the cases are connected.
“Police acknowledge there are growing community concerns about the ongoing homicide investigations in northern BC,” Canada’s RCMP said in a statement.
Authorities noted that while these incidents occurred in the same region, McLeod and Schmegelsky’s truck and the body of an unknown man were found about 290 miles from where Deese and Fowler were found dead.
RCMP asked the public to take general safety precautions, including sharing travel plans with friends and family and establishing check-in times with loved ones. Anyone with any information about Schmegelsky and McLeod is asked to call Dease Lake RCMP at 250-771-4111, or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.