The father of one of two teenagers accused of a killing spree including Australian Lucas Fowler and his girlfriend said they were good boys who set off across the Canadian wilderness looking for adventure.
Police overnight Tuesday named Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, as suspects in the deaths of Fowler, his American lover Chynna Deese, and a third unidentified person on lonely highways in British Columbia.
The pair were originally reported as missing as police investigated two separate discoveries of the bodies, raising intrigue about whether a mass killer was roamingthe roads.
But Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said the teens were now believed responsible for all three deaths and described them as dangerous and on the run.
Schmegelsky’s father, Al, said in an interview recorded they day before the pair were declared suspects that they were childhood friends who had left their home town to chase their fortunes.
“They’re just kids on an adventure, they’re good boys,” Al Schmegelsky told CHEK News.
He teens, from Port Alberni, near Vancouver, had started work at Walmart but left to find more lucrative work in the Yukon Territory.
“All I can think of is that they were at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
“They are both kids. They are not violent. … They are young people but they are good people. They never got into trouble or anything.”
Sgt Shoihet said members of the public wree asked to be on the lookout for Schmegelsky and McLeod but warned them not to go near the pair.
“If you spot Bryer or Kam consider them dangerous,” Sgt Shoihet said.
“Do not approach, do not take action and call 911 immediately.”
The teenagers were first loosely connected to the killings of Mr Fowler, 23, and Ms Deese, 24, when their Dodge pickup was found burning near an unidentified man’s body close to Dease Lake, in northern British Columbia.
Four days earlier and 470 kms away, Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were found shot to death beside the Alaska Highway near a hot springs popular with tourists.
Disguised and on the run
Sgt Shoihet said McLeod and Schmegelsky were last spotted in northern Saskatchewan, a Canadian province hundreds of kilometres away, and were still on the move.
The pair are believed to have changed their appearance.
“Investigators are confident in saying that rather than being missing, we now can confirm that they are travelling elsewhere in Canada and we’re asking everyone here in Canada to help us to locate them,” she told Today.
“We haven’t been able to confirm specifically where they are at this point, but we’re on a manhunt for sure across there and the Western Provinces and now looking into Central Canada.”
Mr Fowler, from Sydney, and Ms Deese, from North Carolina, were stranded on the highway after their blue 1986 Chevrolet van broke down on the afternoon of July 14.
They were found shot dead in a ditch near the highway the next day.
The RCMP originally played down speculation of a crime spree linking the murders of Mr Fowler and Ms Deese to Friday’s discovery of the body, the missing teenagers and the burning Dodge pickup.
Authorities are yet to identify the dead body found near the burning Dodge. they released a sketch of the man, believed to be aged in his 50s or 60s, in the hope that someone would be able to identify him.
‘Worst ever love story’
Mr Fowler’s heartbroken father Stephen Fowler, a senior NSW Police officer, gave an emotional address to the media at a press conference in Canada.
“I may be an experienced police officer but I’m standing here as the father of the murder victim,” Chief Insp. Fowler, of Sydney’s north-west Hills district, said.
“We’re just distraught.”
The teens were believed to be driving a grey 2011 Toyota RAV4..
Family members said the pair had not been in contact with them for days.
Schmegelsky grandmother, Carol Starkey, told the Times Colonist newspaper he “was a great kid”.
Al Schmegelsky said his son and McLeod were “best friends who did everything together”.
Mr Fowler and Ms Deese met backpacking in Croatia two years ago and, according to Insp. Fowler, became inseparable.
They continued to travel the world together and embarked on the trip around Canada in the van.
“It’s a love story that’s ended tragically,” Insp. Fowler said.
“It really is the worst ever love story because we now have two young people who had everything ahead of them tragically murdered.”
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