VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the search of northern Manitoba continues for two murder suspects from British Columbia, a former U.S. Marshal who has spent more than 30 years hunting down killers says the teens are likely “desperate.”
During his time with the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, Lenny DePaul says they made more than one hundred arrests every week.
“I’ve hunted down the most violent felony fugitives across the globe, terrorists, murderers, rapists, arsonists, gun-runners, drug-runners – the worst of the worst,” DePaul says.
The now-retired commander believes at this point, Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky know it’s just a matter of time before they’re caught.
“They’ve got to shift gears at a moment’s notice if they’re out there in the wilderness somewhere, desperate, probably no provisions. They’re probably at each other’s throats,” he says, adding they likely have no idea who they can trust.
“These kids are out there, they’re desperate. I believe there’s a weapon involved. I don’t think the gun has been recovered. Human instincts turn into animal instincts. You don’t know what they’re going to do.”
No new sightings of suspects. Officers are searching cottages, cabins, waterways, & along the rail line for any signs of the suspects. This search of remote areas is being conducted both on foot & in the air. The terrain is immense & varied w/lakes, ponds, muskeg etc. #rcmpmb pic.twitter.com/9xp5eg8GnI
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) July 28, 2019
DePaul says that’s why people who might be at risk in rural Manitoba communities need to cooperate with police and stay safe.
“Leave your lights on at night. You’ve got a dog, keep him out back. These folks are sleeping with one eye open, I’m sure. I’ve been there. I’ve chased people that have been on the run like this — serial killers and escape cases — I mean, I’ve chased ghosts in the past. You don’t know who they are for weeks.”
Mounties have been searching for the teens from Port Alberni for more than a week. They’ve been charged with second degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a Vancouver academic, and are suspects in the shooting deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler and American Chynna Deese.
DePaul says the pair has been lucky so far, but will slip up.
“It’s a matter of time. They’re not going to run too far, that’s for sure, without being spotted. The public is going to come into play a lot — I mean, they got to remain vigilant, obviously, but social media’s fired up, photos are out there all over the place,” DePaul explains.
He says offering a cash reward might help catch the fugitives faster. “People tend to get a little more into it, so to speak, if there is reward money.”
‘I think they’re more lucky than anything right now’
Craig Caine, who used to chase high-profile killers, terrorists, and kidnappers, sometimes internationally, believes 19-year-old McLeod and 18-year-old Schmegelsky aren’t necessarily good at evading capture.
“If you’re out in the woods, hunkered down or trying to evade the police, you’re not going to be changing your appearance with makeup, a shave, and all that stuff,” he explains. “I think they’re more lucky than anything right now, or they’re having substantial assistance from somebody.”
Caine says police shouldn’t rule out that the two Vancouver Island men could have friends in low places, someone he describes as a possible “sympathizer for their cause.”
While he doesn’t think the pair is well-equipped or well-trained, Caine also doesn’t underestimate how desperate they are a week into the manhunt.
“Will they want to go to their death in a blaze of firefight with the cops and become famous — so they think,” he wonders.
That is a point that has been raised by Schmegelsky’s father, who had told The Canadian Press he believes his on “wants his hurt to end.”
“They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory,” Alan Schmegelsky had said. “Trust me on this. That’s what they’re going to do.”
Caine says it’s no doubt everyone involved just wants this saga to end.
“Could they want to be suicide by cop and go out in a blaze of glory, and try to have some kind of legacy? Who knows?”
In the meantime, RCMP are digging deep into the teens’ personal lives.
“They’re turning their worlds upside down, they know pretty much everything they need to know about these two kids,” DePaul explains. “Who their trusted circle of friends are, their digital footprint.”
The pair are under immense pressure and likely won’t last as a team, DePaul says, adding it’s common for suspects to be at one another’s throats after a full week on the run.