RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told the media on Wednesday in Winnipeg that the RCMP are scaling down their efforts to track down Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni, who have been charged in the murder of Leonard Dyck, 64, of Vancouver and are suspects in the homicides of Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of the United States, Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia.
However, MacLatchy added: “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.
“In addition, all of our resources will be ready to respond to the region as required should new information emerge.”
She said that the RCMP had also received assurances that the Royal Canadian Air Force will be ready to assist them if needed.
MacLatchy said: “I know that today’s news is not what the families of the victims and the communities of northern Manitoba wanted to hear.
“But when searching for people in vast, remote and rugged locations, it is always a possibility that they are not immediately located.
“The terrain in northern Manitoba is immense and unforgiving. The weather is often unpredictable.
“Additionally, there remains a possibility that the suspects had some sort of assistance to flee the area. This of course is still an area of consideration for the RCMP.”
MacLatchy said: “We continue to encourage the public to be on the lookout for these two suspects and to continue to submit tips. Something that may seem insignificant to you may be extremely valuable to our officers.
“If you have information or if you believe you see the suspects, please contact your local police immediately.”
Providing details of the RCMP efforts, she noted: “On the afternoon of July 23, the Manitoba RCMP became aware that two murder suspects from BC could be in our province.
“As you all know, a vehicle had been found burnt – out in a remote area, approximately 40 km kilometers from Gillam and close to Fox Lake Cree Nation. It was later established that this vehicle was indeed the vehicle the suspects had been driving.
“Manitoba RCMP responded immediately, deploying front-line and tactical officers, police dogs, forensic identification specialists and Major Crime investigators to the Gillam area.
“An RCMP plane with infrared capabilities was also deployed and conducted an aerial search of the area that same evening.
“Over the last week, we have done everything we can to locate the suspects.
“Using RCMP and Royal Canadian Air Force assets, we searched approximately 11,000 square kilometres in northern Manitoba.
“We canvassed every home and searched every abandoned building in Gillam and Fox Lake Cree Nation. This equals to over 500 homes and buildings.
“We searched rail lines, hydro corridors, lakes, rivers, vast areas of tundra and muskeg, dense forests and brush.
“We conducted exhaustive searches on foot, with dogs and with all-terrain vehicles. We used boats on lakes and searched from the air with drones, helicopters and planes.
“We used some of the most advanced technologies available and received assistance from some of the most highly skilled search and rescue personnel in the country.
“In addition, over 250 tips were received and followed-up on.
“RCMP and RCAF personnel have logged thousands of hours, working 24/7, during this search for the suspects.
“However, even with this extraordinary effort, we have not had any confirmed sightings of the suspects since the burned vehicle was located.”