The hunt for teen fugitives Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky has come to an end, as authorities in Canada announced Wednesday their bodies had been found.
“The search is over,” RCMP Manitoba tweeted.
Officers discovered the remains at 10 a.m. local time near the shoreline of the Nelson River, about 5 miles from a burned vehicle believed to have been used by McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, in their attempts to evade capture.
A damaged aluminum rowboat had previously been discovered on the shore of the river near the Manitoba town of Gillam.
Five members of the RCMP Underwater Recovery Team on Saturday conducted “a thorough underwater search of significant areas of interest” of the body of water, which is about 400 miles long and stretches between Lake Winnipeg and Hudson Bay.
Though it was not clear if that specific search yielded any further evidence in the case, police said on Twitter Wednesday a discovery made Friday was instrumental in locating of McLeod and Schmegelsky’s bodies.
“Our officers knew we needed just one piece of evidence to move the search forward & on Friday, August 2nd, the items found on the shoreline of the Nelson River & directly linked to the suspects, enables officers to narrow down the search,” RCMP wrote on Twitter.
“Specialized RCMP teams begin searching nearby high-probability areas, leading officers to the discovery of the two male bodies, in the dense brush, within 1 km [or a little over half a mile] from where the items were found,” they continued.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were wanted for the killings of North Carolina native Chynna Deese, her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, and University of British Columbia professor Leonard Dyck.
Deese and Fowler’s bodies were found on the Alaska Highway in northern British Columbia last month. Four days later, Dyck’s body was discovered near a highway pullout.
The men had managed to cross four provinces in 10 days and had last been confirmed to be in the proximity of Gillam before appearing to disappear without detection.
“Everything is possible at this stage,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told reporters last week, acknowledging then that McLeod and Schmegelsky could be dead.
“The north part of the province is a very unforgiving place,” MacLatchy said.
Residents in Gillam and surrounding areas, including the Fox Lake Cree Nation, Ilford War Lake First Nation and York Landing, were on high alert in the chance they spotted an unknown vehicle or persons, vigilance which RCMP Manitoba acknowledged Wednesday.
"Your lives have been disrupted, many of you lived with uncertainty and fear, but throughout, you were resilient and helped our officers get the job done," RCMP tweeted. "It was a search that could only be successful if we had strong public engagement and support."