As Searchers Scour for Canada Highway Murders Suspects, a Look at 3 Fugitives Who Disappeared

Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were traveling to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory to look for work when they disappeared.
RCMP

Authorities in Canada have announced they are scaling back efforts to find teen fugitives Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, who are believed to be hiding in a remote and inhospitable region of the country after allegedly killing a road tripping couple and a loving family man last month. 

McLeod and Schmegelsky are suspected of murdering North Carolina native Chyna Deese, 24, and her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, whose bodies were found on a remote Canadian highway July 15. They are also accused of killing Len Dyck, a 64-year-old lecturer at the University of British Columbia whose body was found July 19 about 300 miles away. The pair’s flaming vehicle was located nearby the Vancouver father of two’s body. 

Though authorities were confident McLeod and Schmegelsky traveled to the province of Manitoba, searchers had so far no luck finding any signs of the pair following the July 22 discovery of another burned out vehicle in which they were believed to have been driving.

Helicopters, a drone and even military resources were allocated in the hunt for Schmegelsky and McLeod, which had spanned more than 11,000 square miles over terrain that Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy described as “immense and unforgiving.”

"I know that today's news is not what the families of the victims and the communities of northern Manitoba wanted to hear,” MacLatchy told reporters Wednesday. “But when searching for people in vast, remote and rugged locations, it is always a possibility that they are not immediately located.”

Though a hard possibility to consider, Schmegelsky and McLeod would not be the first fugitives from justice to have seemingly disappeared after cops said they committed a heinous crime. 

William Sharkey was a minor player in New York City politics under William “Boss” Tweed before being convicted of murder in the 1872 killing of Robert Dunn.

Sharkey had squandered $4,000 in five days playing cards in Buffalo and recruited public servant and professional gambler Dunn to win back the money he lost. Sharkey paid Dunn $600 to turn his luck around, but he too returned from Western New York empty-handed. 

The pair met again for a colleague’s funeral and as they moved on to a local bar following the service, Sharkey confronted Dunn about the debt and shot him with a pistol before fleeing

Sharkey was soon captured and charged with premeditated murder, a crime punishable under state law at the time by death. A jury on July 21, 1873, found him guilty of the charge but recommended “mercy.”

Still, Sharkey was sentenced on Aug. 15, 1873, to be hanged. 

Though he “did not betray the slightest emotion” while being dealt his fate, Sharkey was reportedly a violent troublemaker behind bars whose antics sometimes left him in solitary confinement and under close surveillance. Yet on Nov. 22, 1873, he was allowed a visitor. 

Sharkey’s lover, Maggie Jourdan, and another woman, Mrs. Wesley Allen, whose brother was confined in the same prison, had been given passes to enter and exit the prison that day, but neither were searched by the guards. Jourdan left and, not long after, a second woman, described as “large and rather masculine in appearance,” presented a pass at the gate and was permitted to exit.

An hour later, Allen tried to leave, but was without her pass. Authorities immediately knew something was wrong and raced to Sharkey’s cell, where the door was unlocked and the room was empty. 

Sharkey remained in New York for several weeks before booking passage to Cuba, which at the time had no extradition treaty with the U.S. His ultimate fate has been speculated upon, but is not concretely known. 

Frederick Mors emigrated to the U.S. from Austria-Hungary in June 1914 and took up work at a German nursing home in New York, where he killed at least eight elderly patients by poison. 

Between September 1914 and January 1915, 17 residents died at the German Odd Fellows’ Home in Unionport, which is now the Bronx. Administrators tapped the police to investigate, and they found many older individuals at the home feared Mors. When questioned, he allegedly admitted to taking the lives of eight “superannuated octogenarians,” saying they were mercy killings he carried out “to make room for more inmates,” the New York Times reported at the time. 

Mors’ carried out the first killing using arsenic he purchased from a local pharmacy, but after finding that method to be difficult, he began using chloroform to kill his victims. 

Mors was declared criminally insane by the district attorney, who declined to prosecute him and instead committed him to the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane in Poughkeepsie. He was slated to be deported to Austria, but before he could be sent back home, Mors escaped the institution in May 1916. 

Like Sharkey, Mors' whereabouts after his escape remain unclear

More recently, Santiago Mederos vanished from Washington state after authorities said he killed two people in 2010.

Mederos was just 18 when he allegedly killed and wounded several people in a series of incidents that landed him on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. 

Authorities said he and six other individuals who police said were members of the Eastside Lokotes Sureños (ELS) gang were driving a stolen van in search of rivals in Tacoma in February 2010 when they came across Camille Love, 20, and her 19-year-old brother, Josh Love. 

The siblings had just left a family dinner and were driving to a friend’s house when the gang pulled alongside them at a red light. Seeing that Josh was wearing a red jacket, the color associated with the rival gang, Mederos and another gang member opened fire on the car, according to police. Camille was killed and Josh was seriously wounded. 

The following month, Mederos and another gang member were breaking into a car they believed belonged to someone who owed the gang money when they were confronted by three men, including 25-year-old Saul Lucas-Alfonso. The pair and the men who confronted them began fighting and Mederos opened fire, fatally shooting Lucas-Alfonso, police said. 

Neither the Love siblings nor Lucas-Alfonso were associated with any gang, officials said. 

Seven ELS gang members were charged with Camille’s murder, including five who have been captured and are now serving prison sentences ranging from 12 to 75 years. Mederos is believed to have fled to Mexico but may have returned to the U.S. since, officials said. 

He has been charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, murder in the first degree, attempted murder in the first degree, conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. 

Mederos was added to the FBI Ten Most Wanted List in September 2017. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to his arrest.

In the search for McLeod and Schmegelsky, the Manitoba RCMP assistant commissioner said an unspecified number of officers would remain in the town of Gillam to continue investigating. 

"I want to assure everyone that the RCMP is continuing to work on this investigation and will not stop until there is a resolution," MacLatchy said. 

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