Canadian police have found “several items directly linked” to two teenage boys suspected in the killings of an Australian man, his American girlfriend and a Canadian university lecturer.
The pair, Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, both from Port Alberni, British Columbia, have been on the run for nearly three weeks with no confirmed sightings since 22 July.
The evidence, details of which were not revealed, was found on the banks of the Nelson river, 9km from Gillam, the tiny community in northern Manitoba that was the centre of the search last week, before the Royal Canadian Mounted police (RCMP) scaled back the manhunt.
On Sunday, RCMP sent dive teams to the river as part of the search for McLeod and Schmegelsky after finding a rowing boat abandoned on the bank. However, the search of the river, which is wide, fast-flowing and powers several hydro-electric dams, proved futile.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were first reported as missing on 19 July after their Dodge pickup truck was found in flames near Dease Lake, British Columbia, 2km from where a body – later identified as university lecturer Leonard Dyck, 64 – was found.
Days later the RCMP said the pair was being considered as suspects in the 15 July murders of Chynna Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lucas Fowler, 23, of Sydney, Australia, which took place 500km away from where Dyck was found near Liard Hot Spring.
Schmegelsky and McLeod were charged on 24 July with the murder of Dyck.
Communities across northern Canada have since been on edge as sightings of the two teenagers occurred first in Saskatchewan, and then in Gillam, 3,000km away from the sites of the murders, where a grey Toyota Rav4 they were known to have been driving was found in flames on a highway just outside of the town.