Canadian police sent divers into a river over the weekend to search for signs of two teenage boys who are suspected of killing three people, as a nationwide manhunt enters its third week.
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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement that its officers discovered “several items” along the bank of the Nelson River, as well as a damaged aluminum boat, while conducting a helicopter search over Canada’s northeast Manitoba province on Friday afternoon. Those items, which police confirmed are “directly linked to the suspects,” were located six miles from where a burning vehicle belonging to the teens was found two weeks ago, police said.
An underwater recovery team then was deployed to scour “significant areas of interest” within a section of the river in the small town of Gillam on Sunday, police said. Divers spent hours searching approximately 95 feet around the spot where the boat was found. But they returned empty-handed.
“The search did not uncover any additional items linked to the suspects,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Julie Courchaine said in a statement Tuesday. “To ensure the integrity of the investigation, no further information about the items will be provided at this time.”
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are wanted on Canada-wide warrants for second-degree murder in connection with the death of a man whose body was found along a highway near Dease Lake in northwest Canada on July 19.
The teens’ truck camper was found in flames about 1.2 miles away from the body, identified as 64-year-old Leonard Dyck of Vancouver, according to police.
The teens, both Canadian, are also considered suspects in the shooting deaths of 24-year-old American Chynna Deese and her 23-year-old Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, whose bodies were discovered July 15 along a highway near Liard Hot Springs, also in northwest Canada.
The teens’ families haven’t heard from them in weeks, police said.
The last confirmed sighting of the fugitives occurred near Gillam on July 22, just before authorities discovered a car on fire in a remote area. Police later confirmed that the burning vehicle was the same one McLeod and Schmegelsky were last known to be travelling in.
Gillam, a riverside community of just over 1,200 people, is some 2,000 miles east of where the three bodies were found last month.
After a week of exhaustive ground and air search efforts of the dense forest, brush and bog surrounding the area, and no confirmed sightings, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy announced that they would be scaling down the deployment of resources to Gillam. Investigators are considering the possibility that McLeod and Schmegelsky “had some sort of assistance to flee the area,” MacLatchy said.
“To be clear, we’re not ending the search — a number of tactical resources and specialized assets will remain positioned in the Gillam area, and will continue with the efforts to locate the murder suspects,” MacLatchy told reporters at a press conference on July 31. “But when searching for people in vast, remote and rugged locations, it is always a possibility that they are not immediately located.”