Missing teens now suspects in murders of couple, Canadian police say
Police warned people not to approach the teens, who may be in British Columbia.
Two missing teens who police believe could be linked to the murders of a couple in Canada are now considered suspects, according to authorities.
Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of the United States, and her boyfriend, Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia, were found dead on July 15 along Highway 97, some 12 miles south of Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia. Fowler's blue 1986 Chevrolet van was located at the scene, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Four days later, police discovered a red and gray Dodge pickup truck with a sleeping camper on fire south of Stikine River Bridge on Highway 37, some 30 miles from Dease Lake. The two young men who were driving that vehicle -- Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegesky, 18, both Canadian -- were nowhere to be found and have not been in contact with their families in days, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced in a news conference Tuesday afternoon that McLeod and Schmegesky are now suspects in the couple's murders as well as another man's death nearby. Their families have not heard from them in days, police said.
Police warned the public not to approach the pair, who have since left British Columbia and have been spotted in northern Saskatchewan. They were traveling through British Columbia to get to Whitehorse in the Canadian territory of Yukon to look for work and were last seen driving a gray 2011 Toyota RAV4, police said.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police released a statement late Tuesday saying McLeod and Schmegelsky "may be in Manitoba" and "recently in the Gillam area." Gillam is located in remote northeast Manitoba, near Hudson Bay.
Investigators confirmed that Deese and Fowler were on a road trip exploring Northern British Columbia and that they were "victims of gun violence."
While investigating the burning truck, authorities came across the body of a man at a nearby highway pullout, less than two miles south of the scene. The dead man is neither McLeod nor Schmegesky but is believed to be someone investigators "are working to identify," according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The cause of death and his identity are unknown.
On Monday, police held back-to-back press conferences on the two cases in Northern British Columbia, initially cautioning the public against linking them but acknowledging the "growing community concerns."
"It's unusual to have two major investigations of this nature going on at the same time in northern B.C., so we recognize the possibility that these could be linked," Sgt. Janelle Shoihet of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told reporters.
During the press conference, police released two separate composite sketches of individuals and asked for the public's assistance in helping to identify them. The first is of the man found dead near the burning truck belonging to the two missing teens. He is described as Caucasian with gray hair and a full beard, having a heavy build and being between 5'8" and 5'10" tall.
The second is of a man seen talking to Lucas on Highway 97 on the evening of July 14. He is described as Caucasian with darker skin and dark hair, possibly with a beard and glasses, and standing shorter than Lucas, who is 6'3".
Police also released surveillance footage from a gas station in Fort Nelson, British Columbia, on the evening of July 13. The video shows Lucas and Deese arriving at the gas station in their blue van at 7:30 p.m. local time and then departing at 7:47 p.m.
Police said they are working through a number of tips and conducting interviews with individuals who saw or spoke with the couple, while also analyzing forensic and digital evidence along with reviewing hours of footage.
ABC News' Alyssa Pone and Kirit Radia contributed to this report.