The police and military have put a northern Manitoba city under lockdown. The authorities believe this might help conclude the epic of the manhunt for 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky and 19-year-old Kam McLeod.
The once peaceful, albeit swampy, town of York Landing, home to the York Factory Cree, is now exploding with visitors.
Residents have been advised to stay in their homes as police officers and K-9 units walk deserted streets, and drones and helicopters patrol the sky.
The population of York Landing is small, hovering around 500. It is placed discreetly 700 km north of Winnipeg. Only boat or plane would regularly bring you to visit.
Yet, the Bear Clan community patrol based in Manitoba’s capital that has recently extended its reach into the province’s northern hemisphere to help with the search, called in assistance into York Landing after two men were spotted who fit the description of McLeod and Schmegelsky.
The patrol reported two “tall, slender individuals,” “scavaging” in the water treatment plant of York Landing.
If the two boys are, in fact, in the Cree community, they would seem to have made a long difficult journey.
Indeed, Gillam, 90 km northeast of the Cree community, is the location of the last sighting of the two fugitives. There, the vehicle of McLeod and Schmegelsky was last found burned and nearby the murdered body of professor emeritus at UBC, Leonard Dyck.
470 km away, on an Alberta highway, were also the corpses of U.S. tourist Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend Lucas Fowler.
Before the burning of their car, McLeod and Schmegelsky were stopped at a gas bar at the Cree Nation’s Split Lake. At the time the constables that stopped them were not looking for murderers but for alcohol in a dry community.
The band councillor of Split Lake has said the constable saw “maps and camping gear within that vehicle that they were driving.”
Since the police force announced itself, York Factory Cree Nation Chief Leroy Constant has expressed his anxiety over the possible presence of the suspected murderers.
“You never anticipate anything like this happening or them coming this way,” Chief Constant explained.
“To know that they’re possibly in our community somewhere is very concerning.”
Constant described the difficulties a journey from Split Lake and York Landing would have entailed. Very few roads, and mosey bogs would have greeted the boys, likely trudging by foot.
A night patrol has been organized, to ensure no one in the small community is leaving their homes at night. Dogs and other pets are also asked to stay indoors so as not to throw off diligent police canines.
“We don’t want anybody mistaken for a suspect,” warned Chief Constant.