by Phil Ambroziak

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, the two Port Alberni, B.C. teenagers sought in connection with the suspicious death of one man and the double homicide of a couple in British Columbia, were in Meadow Lake as recently as this past Sunday (July 21).

“I was at a local business Sunday afternoon and I saw two very tall, young gentlemen who didn’t look familiar to the Meadow Lake area,” explained a local resident who reported the teens’ presence in Meadow Lake to the RCMP. “We’re a small town and we all tend to recognize people even if we’ve only seen them on the street one time. I knew these guys weren’t from around here. These two gentlemen were very tall, and that’s what stuck out to me the most.”

The eyewitness asked not to be identified for both safety and privacy reasons, while the RCMP confirmed Tuesday evening it was indeed McLeod and Schmegelsky who had been observed in the community.

“If you see these individuals, do not take action and do not approach,” noted an RCMP press release issued July 23. “Call 911 immediately.”

Meanwhile, the eyewitness said the two men were walking around the store looking at camping and RV supplies among other items.

“They were pretty quiet – talking pretty quietly amongst themselves the whole time,” the informant continued. “When they went to leave the store, the cashier asked if they needed any help. She also suggested they go to another local business to find whatever it was they were looking for. That’s when they left, but one of them in particular struck me as different because he was wearing a camouflage outfit that looked fairly new. It was just odd to see someone wearing a full camouflage outfit in the middle of summer.”

Nothing more was thought of the encounter until Monday morning when the same local resident read an online report about the missing teens, a report that included photos of McLeod and Schmegelsky.

“When the report stated their height it struck a chord with me because I remember the two guys I saw in the store were pretty tall,” the eyewitness said. “It reminded me of them and when I looked at the pictures I saw some definite similarities. I thought it better to be safe than sorry so I phoned the appropriate RCMP stations and said I think I may have seen these two, but I wasn’t sure.”

Later that day, the RCMP – after examining surveillance footage at the Meadow Lake business – confirmed with the eyewitness the tip was on the money.

“That’s when I also saw the reports stating these two guys had been upgraded from missing persons to homicide suspects,” the individual stated. “There was nothing indicated to me, however, they were still in the area. But, where are you going to hide in Meadow Lake, right? I assume they’re probably long gone.”

For the past few days, Dease Lake, B.C. RCMP investigators had been focusing on locating McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, given their vehicle and camper were located on fire along Highway 37 last Friday.

Meanwhile, RCMP have also been working to identify a man who was discovered deceased about two kilometres south of the vehicle fire at a highway pullout. The teens are wanted in connection to the death of this individual, as well as the murders of Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, a couple who were found shot dead on Highway 97 in B.C. July 15.

McLeod is described as 6’4”, approximately 169 pounds, with dark brown hair and facial hair and brown eyes.

Schmegelsky is described as 6’4”, approximately 169 pounds with sandy brown hair.

As of press time, the latest reports indicate the suspects were seen Tuesday in the Gillam area, about 270 kilometres south of Churchill, MB. Police believe they are likely continuing to travel east, although their possible destination remains unknown. At one point they were seen driving a grey 2011 Toyota Rav 4, but police have confirmed that vehicle was discovered burnt near Gillam Tuesday evening. Police also believe the duo may have altered their appearance.

The eyewitness, meanwhile, said calling the RCMP was the right decision to make.

“Definitely it was the right thing to do,” the resident said. “Even if it turned out to be nothing, there’s a ton of missing people out there and anybody who sees anything, it’s worth it to make that call. You never know and, in this case, it obviously turned out to be something.”

Anyone with information about the suspects’ whereabouts is encouraged to call the RCMP’s Major Crime Tipline at 1-877-543-4822 or 778-290-5291.