The manhunt for two young men suspected in the killing of three people in Canada shifted to a remote community of about 500 after police received a tip on the suspects’ possible whereabouts, authorities said Monday.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police urged residents of York Landing, a small community in Manitoba located along the eastern bank of the Nelson River, to remain inside, lock their doors and windows, and to “report anything suspicious.”
“We’re making a plea to the public to send in tips,” said RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Julie Courchaine.
Investigators had focused the search on Gillam, a tight-knit community of about 1,000 people, before turning their efforts about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southwest away to York Landing.
Courchaine said police received a tip around 5 p.m. Sunday that two men matching the suspects’ description were seen in York Landing, an area so remote she said it’s only accessible by small plane or a two-hour ferry ride.
Authorities have said Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are wanted in connection with three killings — a botany professor at the University of British Columbia and a young couple who was traveling across Canada.
The RCMP said they were searching cottages, cabins, waterways and other areas in and around York Landing for the suspects. Courchaine said the Royal Canadian Air Force was also assisting in the search.
Courchaine told reporters at a news conference that officers “have not made contact with the individuals and so we are not yet in a position to confirm that these are the wanted suspects.”
“Our goal today remains to safely locate, apprehend, and identify the individuals.”
She described the tip as “credible,” but would not elaborate on where the tip came from.
The killings have shocked the nation.
The bodies of the young couple — an American woman, Chynna Deese, 24, and her boyfriend from Australia, Lucas Fowler, 23 — were found on a remote highway in northern British Columbia two weeks ago. Authorities said the two had been shot to death. Fowler’s blue 1986 Chevrolet van sat nearby.
The couple had been traveling across the region to visit Canada’s national parks. Surveillance video showed the couple wrapping their arms around each other at a gas station just two days before they were killed.
“To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was traveling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating,” Fowler’s family said in a statement shortly after learning the news of the killings. “To know his beautiful girlfriend, Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina also lost her life in this violent event is too cruel.”
Deese’s mother said her daughter loved traveling and would be away for long periods of time — but she always came home.
“It just doesn’t seem real because in my mind I’m hoping she’s gonna come home,” Sheila Deese told CNN affiliate WBTV.
As police searched for clues into the couple’s killing, they found the body of Leonard Dyck, a botanist from Vancouver, about 300 miles from the earlier crime scen. Authorities said a burned-out camper — believed to have been used by the two suspects — was near Dyck’s body.