Divers from the RCMP underwater recovery team have left the Nelson River, northeast of Gillam, Man., after finding nothing to draw them closer to capturing two teenage murder suspects from British Columbia.
“The Underwater Recovery Team has completed their work following the discovery of a boat on the shore of the Nelson River. They will not be conducting any additional dives,” read a statement from the RCMP.
Five divers plunged into the northern Manitoba river on Sunday after a helicopter search of Gillam on Friday spotted a damaged aluminum boat, known as a hunter’s punt, on the shoreline.
Provincial Road 290, the only major road going north of Gillam, is blocked off near Sundance, Man., as investigators continue to scour the area in hopes of finding any clues to help track down Kam McLeod, 19, and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky.
The Underwater Recovery Team has completed their work following the discovery of a boat on the shore of the Nelson River. They will not be conducting any additional dives. A police roadblock has been put in place today in the Sundance, MB, area for ongoing search efforts. #rcmpmb pic.twitter.com/mKSR7xieVh
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) August 5, 2019
The fugitives are wanted in the deaths of Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old University of British Columbia professor, Australian tourist Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, 24.
The mission to find McLeod and Schmegelsky has dragged on; their last verified sighting was in Gillam on July 22.
Six days later, on July 28, they were allegedly seen in York Landing, about 90 km away from Gillam by plane, spawning an intensive military manhunt in the isolated town.
You really can’t prepare for something of that nature to occur
Despite using a Hercules Aircraft, helicopters, drones, boats and dogs, the search came up empty, leading the RCMP to announce it would start scaling back the investigation in the area.
“We want to give many thanks to our warrior men/women who stepped up and offered protection to our community. You really can’t prepare for something of that nature to occur,” read a statement from Chief Leroy Constant of the York Factory Cree Nation in York Landing on Monday.
“Thank you to the our First Nation Safety Officers & many volunteer patrollers, Bear Clan Patrol, Davis for providing meals for everyone, Grand Chief Garisson Settee and Assistant Clyde Flett for their support, RCMP, Major Crimes Unit, and last but not least the council for spending many hours at the office coordinating efforts. I apologize if I forgot anyone.”
While social media has been used to send out statements from officials at lightning speed, online sleuths and panicked residents have exacerbated search efforts, with posts full of speculation and videos of investigations, leading the RCMP to warn online users their posts could potentially give away key information to the suspects.
One Facebook post from a user listening to police scanners also inspired a surge of calls to the Ontario Provincial Police with alleged sightings towards the northeast and northwest regions of Ontario.
While the OPP could not verify any of the calls and said the reports were “blown out of proportion,” it set up a task force dedicated to investigating every call about the suspects.
Only one major road tethers the small, hydro town to the rest of Manitoba, leading many to speculate that McLeod and Schmegelsky are either thriving in the boggy wilderness, died inside of it or left the area undetected.