- The two teens — Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, — are believed to be behind the killings of three people
- The victims: Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, as well as Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old Canadian man
- The suspects are currently believed to be on the run in the central Canadian wilderness
- Since Tuesday, the village of Gillam near Hudson Bay has been on the alert for the duo
Canadian air force joins hunt for teen murder suspects
The Royal Canadian Air Force is joining the hunt for two fugitive teens suspected of triple murder, officials said on Saturday, backing up a vast search operation unfolding in the country's remote northeast.
The suspects, identified as Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, have been on the run for more than a week.
Authorities say they believe the two are behind the killings of 23-year-old Australian Lucas Fowler and his 24-year-old American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, as well as of Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old Canadian.
Since Tuesday, the village of Gillam, near Hudson Bay, has been at the epicenter of an intense manhunt involving tracker dogs, a drone and armored vehicles. The area features dense, sometimes nearly impenetrable forests.
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale announced the air force involvement, which followed a request from Brenda Lucki, head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
In a statement late Friday, Goodale said he and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan had accepted the formal request "for a Canadian Armed Forces aircraft to aid in the search near Gillam, Manitoba."
Police said Friday they could not rule out the possibility that the two young men had altered their appearances and slipped out of the region, possibly with the unwitting help of an area resident.
But the RCMP spokesman for Manitoba province, Corporal Julie Courchaine, emphasized to reporters that searchers were continuing to focus on the area around Gillam, going door-to-door in hopes of tracking down the pair.
The fugitives wound up in this village, some 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) north of Winnipeg, the Manitoba capital, after an epic 2,000-mile chase from British Columbia on Canada's east coast.
The surrounding region is particularly inhospitable, with wild animals including bears, and swampy areas infested with ferocious mosquitoes.
Locals say conditions are brutal, and that the suspects, if on foot and unprepared, would have difficulty surviving for long.
There have been two reported sightings of the wanted teens in Gillam, but none since Monday.
The two young men have been formally accused of the murder of Dyck, a botany professor, and are suspects in the killings of Fowler and Deese, whose bodies were found along a highway in northern British Columbia.
The teenagers were initially considered as missing after their car was found torched on July 19. But police then discovered Dyck's body near another burned-out vehicle believed to have been used by the pair.
The father of one of the teens, Alan Schmegelsky, said his son was "on a suicide mission," deeply troubled since his parents' divorce in 2005.
Massive manhunt in Canada for teen murder suspects
Two teen triple murder suspects on the run in the central Canadian wilderness — perhaps holed up in thick, insect-infested forest inhabited by wolves and bears — were staying one step ahead of a massive police manhunt Friday.
Since Tuesday, the village of Gillam near Hudson Bay has been on the alert for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, who are wanted for three murders.
They are believed to be behind the killings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, as well as Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old Canadian man.
Police consider the Canadian teens to be armed and dangerous, and have warned the population not to approach them if spotted.
The fugitives wound up near the Manitoba province village located 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) north of Winnipeg after an epic 2,000-mile chase across three provinces that began in British Columbia, on the Pacific coast, where their three victims were discovered earlier this month.
The teenagers were initially considered by police in British Columbia to be "missing" after their car was found torched last Friday.
But police then found the body of a man later identified as Dyck, a professor of botany at the University of British Columbia, near another burned-out vehicle believed to have been used by the pair.
Earlier this week, the police named the two natives of Vancouver as formal suspects in the three murders.
Fowler, 23, and Deese, 24, were discovered shot to death on July 15 along the side of the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia.
The teens had been spotted driving a Toyota across northern Saskatchewan.
That vehicle was found by strawberry pickers late Monday near Gillam, triggering a massive manhunt, with trackers using teams of dogs to hunt down the fugitives in the thick woods and swamps.
'Atrocious' insects and bears
There were two reported sightings of the wanted teens in Gillam, but none since Monday.
"We believe they are still in the area," Julie Courchaine, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said Thursday.
Police had received 80 tip-offs about the suspects in the previous 48 hours, Courchaine said, and a roadblock has been set up on the only road — an unpaved track — leading into and out of Gillam.
As well as tracker dogs, police officers were deploying drones and armored vehicles in their search of the area's dense forests, where vegetation in some places is nearly impenetrable.
Gillam Mayor Dwayne Forman said that if conditions on the ground were tough for the police, they were much worse for the fugitives.
"They're up against some brutal terrain. It's a swamp, heavy-treed area. The insects are atrocious through [the] swamps," he told CTV television.
The woods are full of black bears and the occasional polar bear that wanders in from the Hudson Bay area, around 100 miles away, Forman said.
"I would be extremely surprised if they could survive a long duration up here," the mayor said.
"It's tough going up here. If they don't have bug jackets, once that sun goes down, the bugs are out like crazy, enough to drive you insane," said Clint Sawchuk, owner of an outdoors equipment store.
Sherry Benson-Podolchuk, a retired Manitoba police officer, said: "If they're not in a vehicle, then they have to be on foot, and that must be pretty brutal for them."
"They don't have the training, they don't have all the equipment that you would need to survive for several days without food or water," she added.
Peter German, a former high-ranking federal police officer, added: "One would hope that these young fellows would simply give themselves up at this point and no harm would come to them or to the police or public."
In an interview with the Canadian Press, Schmegelsky's father said his son was deeply troubled and wanted "his pain to end."
"He's on a suicide mission... he's going to be dead today or tomorrow," Alan Schmegelsky said, explaining that his son never recovered emotionally from his parents' divorce in 2005.
"I'm so sorry all of this had to happen. I'm so sorry that I couldn't rescue you," said the older Schmegelsky, in tears.