Canadian authorities have suffered a frustrating blow in their search for two teenage suspects wanted over a series of killing in remote northern Canada.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced late on Monday that a possible sighting of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, at a garbage dump could not be substantiated after a “thorough and exhaustive search”.
Police urged the community to be vigilant and said officers would remain in the search areas of York Landing and Gillam.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are wanted for the murder of a Vancouver botanist and are suspects in the fatal shootings of a tourist couple – Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and American Chynna Deese, 24.
The RCMP deployed personnel and Royal Canadian Air Force planes to the quiet, isolated town of York Landing on Sunday after two members of the Bear Clan, an Indigenous community policing group, noticed two men matching the teenagers’ tall, skinny body types foraging for food at the landfill. McLeod and Schmegelsky are both 193cm tall and weigh just 77kg.
It appeared to be a major breakthrough in the two-week manhunt that has stretched 3,000km from British Columbia in the west to Manitoba in northern, central Canada.
York Landing is an inland, island community in northern Manitoba accessible only in summer by air or a two-hour ferry crossing. There is also a rail line about 25km south.
The York Landing dump is about 90km south-west of the town of Gillam, where the duo allegedly torched their Toyota RAV4 getaway car a week ago and were presumed to have fled into bushland on foot.
The RCMP is being aided by military technology. The Royal Canadian Air Force has sent a CC-130H Hercules and a CP-140 Aurora patrol plane equipped with infrared cameras and imaging radar to scan the thick forest.
McLeod and Schmegelsky are considered armed, dangerous and likely to be desperate after two weeks on the run.
Fowler, from Sydney, and Deese, from North Carolina, were on a Canadian road trip in British Columbia two weeks ago when their old van broke down on a highway.
Four days later a botanist, Leonard Dyck, was found dead on another highway in the province.
It is believed McLeod and Schmegelsky then drove 3,000km east to the Gillam area before torching a Toyota RAV4.
The teenagers and longtime best friends who had lived on Vancouver Island, had worked at a Walmart, but told family members they were driving north to Yukon to find work.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were originally declared missing when the three bodies were first found, but the RCMP last week charged the pair with Dyck’s second-degree murder and launched a nationwide manhunt.