Sighting of fugitive teens 2300km away
Police are investigating several new sightings of teen murder spree suspects Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky in the city of Ontario, more than 2000km from the current search area in the tiny town of Gillam.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said one of the reports related to a pair of "suspicious" men believed to be McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, 18, in the northern Ontario town of Kapuskasing.
The Kapuskasing informant told police they saw the pair driving through a construction site on Highway 11 about 10.30am yesterday.
"The OPP is continuing to investigate this incident and is actively looking for the vehicle," police told Global News in a statement.
"Officers are urging anyone who sees any suspicious activity or a suspicious vehicle not to approach but to call 911 or the OPP immediately."
Other reports place the pair at nearby Moonbeam, with a construction worker claiming the pair were travelling in a white Ford Focus.
The worker claimed Schmegelsky showed him a handgun and was wearing the camouflage shirt seen in their wanted poster as well as a green fishing hat.
Manitoba RCMP says it has not sent any resources to Kapuskasing to aid in the search for the vehicle but that could change if any of the new sightings are verified.
Earlier, Sudbury.online carried a report of a sighting in Kapuskasing in which a witness claimed to have seen the pair in a "suspicious vehicle".
The news outlet said police would not initially connect the report to McLeod and Schmegelsky but later confirmed the informant believed the occupants to be the fugitive teens, who have been the targets of a massive national manhunt for 10 days.
The life long friends from Port Alberni in British Columbia have been charged with the second degree murder of university lecturer Leonard Dyck, 64 and are suspects in the double homicide of Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24.
Sgt Shona Camirand, from Ontario police, told Sudbury.online the make and model of the car, its exact location and the direction it was heading were not provided. It was unclear whether it was being treated as separate to the Highway 11 sighting.
The last confirmed sighting of the pair was on July 22, when they were unwittingly stopped and released by First Nation police before dumping their getaway car near a rail line outside Gillam in northern Manitoba.
By the time Royal Canadian Mounted Police changed their status from missing persons to murder suspects just one day later, Schmegelsky and McLeod were long gone.
Last week scores of police and military descended on Gillam with SWAT trucks, drones, dogs and military surveillance equipment, combing predator and insect infested swamp and bushland for days without finding any further trace of the pair.
They also searched 500 homes and every vehicle coming in and out of the one-road community of 1200 people and the nearby Fox Cree Nation reserve where the teens' stolen SUV was abandoned and torched.
In a dramatic turn of events, the massive operation suddenly shifted to the First Nation river town of York Landing after members of voluntary security group Bear Clan Patrol spotted two males matching Schmegelsky and McLeod scavenging for food at the local landfill.
Though compelling, the RCMP Manitoba was unable to substantiate the sighting and authorities have since returned to Gillam to retrace the fugitives' steps from the burnt-out SUV - the last good evidence of the case.
On Wednesday, two air force planes that joined the search last weekend were withdrawn after nine days of scouring the area.
"Over the next week, the RCMP will begin to scale down the scope of our search efforts in northern Manitoba," RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said, adding some "tactical and specialised assets" would remain in Gillam.
"Over the last week, we've done everything we can to locate the suspects," she said in a statement.
"We searched every home and every abandoned home in Gillam and Fox Lake Cree nations. We searched rail lines, vast areas of muskeg, dense forests, and brush.
"We conducted searches with dogs, drones, boats, and helicopters and planes. We used some of the most advanced technologies available and received assistance from some of the most skilled search and rescue workers in the country."
The areas where the two young men were last seen is a vast and impenetrable landscape of thick forest, brush and swamps, swarming with biting insects and inhabited by bears.
Leading Canadian survival expert Dave Arama predicted McLeod and Schmegelsky, who each stand 193cm tall and weight approximately 77kg, would be unlikely to survive more than a week in the wilderness.
"They eat you alive," Mr Arama, owner of the Ontario-based WSC Survival School, told AAP on Tuesday.
"They won't stop biting until your eyes close and you can't see no more.
"Or, if you get enough bites you can go anaphylaxis and then end up in a serious life-threatening reaction."
Water might be plentiful in northern Canada during summer but instead of keeping the teenagers alive it also could be highly-hazardous.
"If they drink any water it is likely filled with parasites, giardia and they'd get sick as hell from that," he said.
"I'll be honest. With 40 years of experience, if you threw me out there with no knife, no tin can, no flint to start a fire, no tarp, no nothing, I'd rather die.
"This is no Crocodile Dundee movie. This is real."
Mr Fowler, from Sydney, and Ms Deese, from Charlotte in North Carolina, had been travelling through northern British Columbia en route to Alaska when they were found next to their blue Chevrolet van on July 15.
On July 19, Mr Dyck, a University of British Columbia lecturer, was found dead near Lake Dease, two kilometres from the teens' burnt-out Dodge and almost 500km from where Mr Fowler and Ms Deese's bodies were discovered.