A casket is loaded by RCMP into a plane near Gillam, Man. RCMP said Wednesday they believe they found the bodies of B.C. fugitives Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky near the northern Manitoba community. Autopsies are being conducted today in Winnipeg. (Angela Johnston/CBC )

Healing will begin as manhunt for alleged teen killers ends

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The manhunt that terrified more than a few Canadians and riveted millions around the world is finally over.

Canada will now attempt to heal…and look for answers.

Autopsies in Winnipeg today are expected to confirm that bodies discovered yesterday in northern Manitoba bush and swamp country are Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, prime suspects in three murders.

The pair who knew each other since elementary school grew up in the British Columbia town of Port Alberni, a town where residents are now trying to come to grips with exactly what happened to a couple of kids many had known all their lives.

“I think as a community we are incredibly saddened by this news and the outcome in general,” Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions told CTV News on Wednesday.

Bryer Schmegelsky’s Facebook profile image. (Bryer Schmegelsky/Facebook)

“This is not the outcome we were hoping for…there is just so much tragedy that has happened here it’s just awful”

Minions said that in the face of “so many unknowns,” people looking for answers in the lumber and paper-mill town may not get the answers they want, but she says residents will not be running away from what happened.

“As a community we are going to pull together and support each other,” she said.

“There are a lot of people who are going to be impacted by this news.”

Minions said she plans to reach out to the families of McLeod and Schmegelsky.

McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, whose 19th birthday was Monday, left Port Alberni on July 12, saying they were headed to Alberta to look for work..

Then things went bad and no one is yet sure why.

Kam McLeod in an undated photo provided to CBC News by his father. (Keith McLeod)

Botanist Leonard Dyck, 64, was found dead on July 19 on a B.C. highway pullout near Dease Lake, B.C.

On July 24, MaLeod, and Schmegelsky were charged with second-degree murder.

The pair is also suspected of gunning down a young couple, Lucas Fowler, 23, an Australian, and Chynna Deese, 24, an American, after their camper broke down. Their bodies were found on Alaska Highway, south of Liard Hot Springs, B.C., on July 15.

Canadian police issued a warning that the pair was armed and dangerous and began combing the wilderness of northern Manitoba, territory filled with swamps and populated by wild animals.

The RCMP says officers covered more than 11,000 square kilometres across four provinces looking for the teenagers.

On July 31, after nine days without a trace of the two fugitives, the RCMP announced they were scaling down the search but not halting it.

The bodies of tourists Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, left, were found near Liard Hot Springs, B.C., on July 15. University lecturer Leonard Dyck, right, was found dead four days later near Dease Lake, B.C. (New South Wales Police; University of British Columbia)

“We knew we needed just to find that one piece of evidence,” Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, commanding officer of the Manitoba RCMP, told reporters on Wednesday.

Last Friday, police got their break.

They found a damaged boat and several personal items linked to the fugitives along the Nelson River which flows north between Gillam and Fox Lake and eventually empties into Hudson Bay.

“Following this discovery, we were at last able to narrow down the search,” said MacLatchy.

That search ended Wednesday.

With files from RCI, CBC, CP, CTV, Global, NY Times, BBC

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