The bodies of two Canadian men suspected of killing three people last month, including an American tourist and her Australian boyfriend, are believed to have been found in Manitoba, police announced Wednesday.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, had been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of a Vancouver, B.C. man, Leonard Dyck, and were suspects in the murders of American Chynna Deese, 24 and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, 23.
"At this time, we are confident that these are the bodies of the two suspects wanted in connection with the homicides in British Columbia," Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told reporters during a news conference in Winnipeg.
The bodies were found five days after police found several items on the banks of the Nelson River that were "directly linked" to the suspects. MacLatchy said the bodies were found less than one kilometer (0.62 miles) from the items.
The bodies were also found approximately 5.6 miles from where police located a burned-out vehicle they believe belonged to the suspects on July 22 and approximately 2,000 miles from where the murders took place in northern British Columbia.
Police discovered the bodies of Deese and Fowl on July 15 along the side of the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs, B.C. The couple had been shot to death. Police discovered Dyck’s body four days later close to where the suspect’s burning truck had been found.
On July 23, authorities named McLeod and Schmegelsky as suspects in the killings. The two managed to elude authorities amid a nationwide manhunt that involved multiple law enforcement agencies.
An autopsy is scheduled in Winnipeg to confirm the identity of the bodies and determine their cause of death, police said. Investigators had said Tuesday they were investigating all possibilities including the possibility that the suspects might have drowned.
A police helicopter initially spotted a damaged boat along the Nelson River last week and a follow-up search in the area uncovered the items directly linked to the two in what authorities described as very challenging terrain.
"It is very tough terrain," MacLatchy said.
MacLatchy said there is a sense of relief for families of the victims involved and the communities in the area.
"It's huge to be able to hopefully give some people the opportunity to exhale and to hopefully go back to being normal and not be afraid of who is out in the woods," she said.
Deese's brother, British Deese, said the family needed time to process the news that the suspects' bodies were apparently found.
"We are speechless," British Deese said in a text message to The Associated Press, declining further comment.
Fox News' Vandana Rambaran, Chris Irvine, Cristina Corbin, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.