Canada’s armed forces have been drafted in to provide air support as police go door to door in the search for two teenagers suspected in three killings in the country’s remote wilderness.
Authorities have urged “all Canadians” to be on the lookout for 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, after the fatal shooting of a tourist couple – American woman Chynna Deese, 24, and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler, 23 – and the murder of Vancouver professor Leonard Dyck, 64.
As the hunt continued, Deborah Sweeney, Schmegelsky’s mother, pleaded for him to come home safe, in a note dated 25 July handed to local media. “Bryer is a caring, loving boy, that would never hurt anyone,” she wrote. “He grew up in a loving home. We miss and love him dearly. We want both boys to come home safe.”
Canadian police said on Friday they would scour two communities in Manitoba over the next three days, but Corporal Julie Courchaine said officials were “open to the possibility” that the suspects could have inadvertently been given assistance in leaving the Gillam and Fox Lake areas of Manitoba.
They may have altered their appearance and someone could have inadvertently helped them leave the area, said Courchaine. “It is possible that someone may not have been aware of who they were providing assistance to, and may now be hesitant to come forward,” she said at a police update in Winnipeg. No cars had been reported stolen, she added.
Canadian public safety minister Ralph Goodale said the military had now been called in to give police air support during their hunt for the young men.
Gillam is more than 2,000 miles from northern British Columbia, where the three people were found slain in two places last week.
McLeod and Schmegelsky have been charged with second-degree murder in Dyck’s death, whose body was discovered five days after Deese and Fowler were found shot dead.
McLeod and Schmegelsky themselves had originally been considered missing persons and only became suspects in the case on Tuesday.
Police also released surveillance video of McLeod and Schmegelsky as they walked through a store in the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. Schmegelsky is dressed in army fatigues.
Schmegelsky’s father, Alan Schmegelsky, said on Wednesday he expected the nationwide manhunt to end in the death of his son, who he said is on “a suicide mission”.
The separate discoveries of three bodies and burning cars have shaken rural northern British Columbia and rural Manitoba.
During the investigation in British Columbia, police found Dyck’s body roughly a mile from the first burned-out vehicle.
That was about 300 miles from the spot along the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs where Deese and Fowler were found, over a week ago.
Fowler, the son of a chief inspector with the New South Wales police, was living in British Columbia and Deese was visiting him.
Associated Press contributed to this report