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Inside the RCMP's cross-country manhunt for 2 teenage killers – CBC.ca

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A ghosted girlfriend, a family home with guns and ammunition, and french fries left scattered around a murder victim. 

These are some of the puzzle pieces that RCMP investigators tried to fit together last summer in the wake of three killings in northern British Columbia, and the ensuing cross-country manhunt for Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19.

The details come from a dozen warrant applications, newly unsealed following a court challenge by CBC News and other media outlets. They help complete the picture of a sprawling and confused triple-homicide investigation, one where the RCMP eventually got their men — found dead by their own hands deep in the Manitoba bush — but failed to ever uncover the motivation for their brutal crimes.

From the first instance, the remoteness of the crime scenes caused problems for police.

After a highway maintenance worker reported the discovery of two bodies and a shot-up van near the Liard River Hot Springs on Highway 97, near the Yukon border, early on the morning of July 15, it took officers from the closest RCMP detachment in Fort Nelson, B.C., three hours to make their way to the site.

There, they found the bodies of a young man and young woman, face down in a ditch. Both had suffered multiple gunshot wounds and had been dead for hours — “cold to the touch,” according to a trucker who was one of the first upon the scene. 

Police quickly established that the van belonged to Lucas Fowler, a 23-year-old Australian citizen who was in the country on a work visa. And they found a bank card belonging to Chynna Deese, a 24-year-old American, on the ground near the woman’s body.

But positive identification of the victims took a full two days. A search warrant for the van, obtained from a Burnaby, B.C. court on the afternoon of July 15, wasn’t executed until late the next morning. And then the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) demanded a warrant before it would hand over photos and passport information for the vacationing couple. (Fowler had entered the country on April 16, while Deese had arrived just days before their deaths, on July 6.) 

The bodies of tourists Chynna Deese and Lucas Fowler, left, were found near Liard Hot Springs, B.C., on July 15, 2019. University lecturer Leonard Dyck, right, was found dead four days later near Dease Lake, B.C. (New South Wales Police; University of British Columbia)

The making of a manhunt

At the murder scene, investigators uncovered some disturbing details. There were gunshot entry wounds on both the front and the backs of the bodies. And a number of bullets were found lodged in the bloody dirt beneath — an indication that the assault had continued as the couple lay helpless on the ground. 

The autopsies, conducted in Abbotsford, B.C., on July 19, catalogued seven separate injuries for Deese and five for Fowler, although the particulars have been blacked out in the released warrant applications.

At the time, the RCMP had no real leads. There was an hours-long gap between the last sightings of Fowler and Deese alive — from witnesses who had stopped on the evening of July 14 to offer assistance repairing their broken down van — and the discovery of their bodies early the next day. Investigators released a sketch of an unknown man who was seen talking to the couple around 10:30 that night, labelling him a “person of interest,” but later determined he was just another would-be helper.

(After police later zeroed in on McLeod and Schmegelsky, they found footage from security cameras along Highway 97, or the Alaska Highway, that showed the pair were already long gone — hundreds of kilometres north of the murder scene on their way to Whitehorse — when the first 911 call was received early July 15.) 

RCMP have confirmed that Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were seen in Meadow Lake, Sask. If spotted, the suspects should not be approached, and RCMP say 911 or local police should be contacted immediately. 0:16

It wasn’t until the morning of July 19, when police received a call about a burning pickup truck along Highway 37, 60 kilometres south of another northern B.C. community, Dease Lake, that the investigation started to mushroom into one of the largest manhunts in Canadian history.

The first officer found a still-smoldering Dodge parked beside a bridge with camping gear, including a stove, propane tanks and the yellow nozzle of a gasoline jerry can, scattered about the area. The partially charred licence plate revealed that the vehicle was registered to Kam McLeod.

The constable was preparing to leave when a motorist flagged him down to report that he had found a dead body in a roadside gravel pit, about 2.5 kilometres farther down the highway.

Fast-food mystery 

The older, heavyset man with a white beard was lying on his back, bloodied and burned, his torn clothes revealing multiple wounds. The fact that he had been shot wasn’t readily apparent.

One thing that leapt out to the officer was the presence of what appeared to be scattered french fries and a red cardboard McDonald’s container on the ground between his legs. The odd discovery is referred to repeatedly across the warrants, usually prefaced by a single, blacked-out word, suggesting there was something noteworthy about the state of the food.

There was no ID on the body, but the man’s pockets were full of change. Investigators theorized that he had still been alive when he arrived at the gravel pit because of the mud on his shoes. They found 13 items near the body, including cigarette butts, a Molson beer can, a Red Bull can, and plastic flex ties — the kind that could be used to bind a person’s hands together.

The RCMP now had three bodies and two crime scenes, some 500 kilometres apart. But the burned-out pickup made them fear that Schmegelsky and McLeod might also have fallen victim to a killer.

Another traveller alerted police to the presence of a substantial amount of blood on the floor and walls of a rest-stop outhouse on the other side of the bridge.

And there were more discoveries along Highway 37: A trash can that had been set alight, and at another rest stop five kilometres south of the third body, a black and yellow folding knife and Kam McLeod’s employee ID from the Walmart in Port Alberni, B.C.

The warrant to search the torched vehicle makes specific mention of firearms, ammunition and “edged weapons,” noting that injuries on the newly discovered body implied a knife and a gun had been used. It also expresses a belief that “biological samples” could be taken from the flex ties.

A failed romance and a jilted girlfriend

An officer from a local detachment on Vancouver Island visited the family homes of McLeod and Schmegelsky on the afternoon of July 20. He was told that the two young men had left Port Alberni on July 12, with plans to travel to Whitehorse in search of work. They had last contacted their families on July 17 via text message.

McLeod’s parents described their son and his friend as “introverted loners and gamers.” Schmegelsky’s grandmother revealed that he had recently been upset about being rejected by a girl — McLeod’s younger sister.

Police asked if either had a gun with them and were told no, and that no firearms were missing from the family homes.

A poster with images of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod is attached to the side of a grocery store in Gillam, Man., last summer. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

However, there were also indications that the pair were cutting links with their hometown. 

McLeod’s girlfriend told the RCMP that he had left without saying goodbye. “Seriously sorry, but I’m not coming back,” he wrote in a text message sent on July 13. And when she reached him on his cellphone the next night — a few hours before the murders of Fowler and Deese — McLeod refused to say where he was and abruptly cut off the call. 

The police tried to trace the pair via their debit and credit card transactions, but McLeod’s last purchase had come on July 12 at a sporting goods store in Nanaimo, B.C. (It would be days before the RCMP figured out that he had bought a gun, a 39-mm SKS, a non-restricted, semi-automatic rifle, along with a box of shells.) 

Schmegelsky’s last purchase was $20 worth of gas at a station on the Alaska Highway early on the morning of July 18.

Attempts to locate the friends by tracking their cellphones were similarly unsuccessful. Schmegelsky’s phone had been out of service since July 15. And after the final text to Port Alberni on July 17, McLeod’s cell remained switched off. Police would later find his bent SIM card on the ground near the third body.

From ‘missing’ to ‘wanted’

The RCMP were still struggling to identify the third victim when a tipster in Saskatchewan reported that two young men matching McLeod and Schmegelsky’s descriptions had purchased gas at a Co-op in Meadow Lake on July 21. A local officer reviewed the surveillance tape early the next morning and confirmed that it was the missing B.C. teens — and that they were driving a new vehicle, a silver Toyota RAV4.

By late afternoon on July 22, police had determined that the pair were now the prime suspects in all three killings.

A Vancouver woman had called the RCMP after seeing a composite sketch of the victim that had been released to the media and posted online. She said it appeared to be her husband, Leonard Dyck, a 64-year-old botanist who lectured at the University of British Columbia. He had left home on July 16 to watch grizzly bears in the wilderness.

His wife last heard from him via text on July 18. She told police that he often slept in his car while on roadtrips — a silver Toyota RAV4.

RCMP officers carry a coffin to a plane in Gillam, Man., following the discovery of the bodies of Schmegelsky and McLeod last August. (CBC)

The hunt for McLeod and Schmegelsky spanned over five provinces and territories and grew to involve hundreds of officers and volunteers, as well as the Royal Canadian Air Force. A total of 19 warrants were obtained.  

The court submissions built upon each other, layering new details over the old. 

An Aug. 1 application for access to online gaming profiles reveals that McLeod sometimes used the handle “angelofdeath,” while Schmegelsky at times went by “Bryerbrown123 [KKK].”

A different filing for Mac and SSID information made the same day outlines a July 25 search of the McLeod family home in Port Alberni, describing a number of long guns locked securely in a gun safe, but two more rifles left out in the open on a bed and two additional guns stored underneath it. 

As the RCMP indicated in their September report on the homicide investigations, two firearms were used to kill Fowler and Deese and one was used to kill Leonard Dyck. The gun that was used on both July 15 and July 19 was the SKS purchased in Nanaimo. The RCMP have recently disclosed that they have since determined that the second firearm used — a “ghost gun” made up of scavenged parts of at least five different Chinese-made guns — was also legally obtained by McLeod on July 12, along with 750 rounds of ammunition, from a small store in Port Alberni. 

A lucky escape

The warrants also provide the identity of a man who might well have been targeted by McLeod and Schmegelsky on the night of July 17, near Haines Junction, Yukon, two hours west of Whitehorse.

Kenneth Albertsen, a resident of Palmer, Alaska, told police that he had just pulled over and crawled into his back seat for a nap when a slow-moving truck inched to a stop 50 metres in front of his vehicle.

“They sat there for a little while and then the passenger door on the truck opened and someone stepped out holding a long gun. And that got my attention, right away,” Albertsen said in an interview with CBC News. 

As the man with the gun walked into the woods and started to weave his way back through the trees like he was stalking prey, Albertsen decided to make a hasty escape, noticing another young man behind the wheel of the truck as he sped past.

The 54-year-old later came to believe that the pair were after the boat he was towing behind his own truck. 

“God saved me,” he said.

Albertsen’s recollection of the make and colour of the vehicle didn’t match McLeod’s pickup, but RCMP have said that the timing, location and physical description of the men makes them believe it was Schmegelsky and McLeod.

The manhunt reached its apex following the discovery of the torched remains of Dyck’s Toyota outside Gillam, Man., on July 22, almost 3,000 kilometres east of the initial murder scene. 

As police and volunteers manned roadblocks and scoured the surrounding bush, and military search planes patrolled the skies above, police hatched a plan to deal with the pair after their arrest.

An Aug. 2 warrant application mentions a “cell mate undercover operation,” with hopes that McLeod and Schmegelsky will “develop a bond” with the jailhouse operatives and implicate themselves in the murders. 

But the Aug. 7 discovery of two bodies in the wilderness, just eight kilometres from the burned out RAV4, made such a ruse unnecessary.

The six videos that the pair left behind on a digital camera they had stolen from Dyck have never been released. The RCMP has described them as suicide notes, and last wills and testaments. The men admitted responsibility for the three murders, police say, but provided no explanation and expressed no remorse.

The mystery of the french fries found surrounding Dyck’s body also endures. If McLeod and Schmegelsky brought them along, they must have come from Whitehorse, the closest McDonald’s along their route, but an eight-plus hour drive from that scene.

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Top soldier says he won't confirm or deny that Canadians troops are on the ground in Ukraine – CBC News

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Canada’s top soldier is declining to confirm media reports that Canadian military members are on the ground in Ukraine to train locals in fighting invading Russian forces.

Gen. Wayne Eyre, Canada’s chief of the defence staff, appeared on Power & Politics on Monday following reports from Global News and the New York Times that Canadian Forces special operations members are training Ukrainians during Russia’s ongoing invasion. 

But when asked about the reports, Eyre said the military is “never going to talk about discreet or sensitive special operations or confirm or deny them.”

He called the media reports “disappointing” and speculative.

“If it was true, it would put our troops at risk. And why would anyone deliberately want to put Canadian troops at risk?” Eyre said. 

WATCH | Eyre says media speculation feeds Russian disinformation: 

Gen. Eyre declines to say if Canadian troops operating in Ukraine

23 hours ago

Duration 8:44

Chief of Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre declines to confirm reports that Canadian special forces are on the ground operating in Ukraine in a training capacity: “We’re never going to talk about discreet or sensitive special operations.”

Host Vassy Kapelos asked whether or not it’s problematic for Canadians not to have an accurate depiction of the country’s participation in a war.

“The other aspect we need to think about is speculation in the media feeds Russian disinformation as well,” Eyre said. “We’re seeing, as the character of war evolves … disinformation is itself becoming a weapon. So we just need to be very, very cognizant of that aspect as well.”

“Does that mean that if Canadian soldiers are on the ground in Ukraine at any point during this conflict, Canadians will not be aware of that?” Kapelos asked. 

“Every situation is going to be different,” Eyre replied. “You balance transparency with operational security and try to find that sweet spot in the middle.”

Last week, Defence Minister Anita Anand announced Canada will commit a contingent of soldiers to the British Army’s program to turn Ukrainian civilians into fighting troops. That training will be held in the U.K.

The plan amounts to the restart of Operation Unifier, the long-standing training mission which saw — until its suspension last winter — more than 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers given advanced combat instruction by Canadian soldiers.

That mission, conducted on Ukrainian soil, was halted and the troops pulled out of the eastern European country in mid-February on the eve of the full-scale Russian invasion.

The new iteration involves up to 225 personnel, the majority of whom will work as trainers, supported by a command and control element, Anand said.

The initial deployment is expected to be four months.

“Training is something that we have done very, very well and has proven to be of great value to our Ukrainian friends, starting with the start of Operation Unifier,” Eyre said Monday. “That’s something we want to continue.” 

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Beware the Darkverse and the Cyber-Physical Threats it Will Enable

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DALLAS, August 8, 2022 – Trend Micro Incorporated (TYO: 4704; TSE: 4704), a global cybersecurity leader, today released a new report warning of a “darkverse” of criminality hidden from law enforcement, which could quickly evolve to fuel a new industry of metaverse-related cybercrime.

To read a full copy of the report, Metaverse or MetaWorse? Cyber Security Threats Against the Internet of Experiences, please visit: https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/news/cybercrime-and-digital-threats/metaworse-the-trouble-with-the-metaverse.

The top five metaverse threats outlined in the report are:

  • NFTs will be hit by phishing, ransom, fraud and other attacks, which will be increasingly targeted as they become an important metaverse commodity to regulate ownership.
  • The darkverse will become the go-to place for conducting illegal/criminal activities because it will be difficult to trace, monitor and infiltrate by law enforcement. In fact, it may be years before police catch up.
  • Money laundering using overpriced metaverse real estate and NFTs will provide a new outlet for criminals to clean cash.
  • Social engineering, propaganda and fake news will have a profound impact in a cyber-physical world. Influential narratives will be employed by criminals and state actors targeting vulnerable groups who are sensitive to certain topics.
  • Privacy will be redefined, as metaverse-like space operators will have unprecedented visibility into user actions – essentially when using their worlds, there will be zero privacy as we know it.

Bill Malik, vice president of infrastructure strategies for Trend Micro: “The metaverse is a multibillion-dollar hi-tech vision that will define the next internet era. Although we don’t know exactly how it will develop, we need to start thinking now about how it will be exploited by threat actors. Given the high costs and jurisdictional challenges, law enforcement will struggle to police the metaverse in general in its early years. The security community must step in now or risk a new Wild West to develop on our digital doorstep.”

As imagined by Trend Micro, the darkverse will resemble a metaverse version of the dark web, enabling threat actors to coordinate and carry out illegal activities with impunity.

Underground marketplaces operating in the darkverse would be impossible for police to infiltrate without the correct authentication tokens. Because users can only access a darkverse world if they’re inside a designated physical location, there’s an additional level of protection for closed criminal communities.

This could provide a haven for multiple threats to flourish—from financial fraud and e-commerce scams to NFT theft, ransomware and more. The cyber-physical nature of the metaverse will also open new doors to threat actors.

Cybercriminals might look to compromise the “digital twin” spaces run by critical infrastructure operators, for sabotage or extortion of industrial systems. Or they could deploy malware to metaverse users’ full body actuator suits to cause physical harm. Assault of avatars has already been reported on several occasions.

Although a fully-fledged metaverse is still some years away, metaverse-like spaces will be commonplace much sooner. Trend Micro’s report seeks to start an urgent dialog about what cyber threats to expect and how they could be mitigated.

Questions to start asking include:

  • How will we moderate user activity and speech in the metaverse? And who will be responsible?
  • How will copyright infringements be policed and enforced?
  • How will users know whether they’re interacting with a real person or a bot? Will there be a Turing Test to validate AI/humans?
  • Is there a way to safeguard privacy by preventing the metaverse from becoming dominated by a few large tech companies?
  • How can law enforcement overcome the high costs of intercepting metaverse crimes at scale, and solve issues around jurisdiction?

About Trend Micro

Trend Micro, a global cybersecurity leader, helps make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Fueled by decades of security expertise, global threat research, and continuous innovation, Trend Micro’s cybersecurity platform protects hundreds of thousands of organizations and millions of individuals across clouds, networks, devices, and endpoints. As a leader in cloud and enterprise cybersecurity, the platform delivers a powerful range of advanced threat defense techniques optimized for environments like AWS, Microsoft, and Google, and central visibility for better, faster detection and response. With 7,000 employees across 65 countries, Trend Micro enables organizations to simplify and secure their connected world. www.TrendMicro.com.  

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Mike Tyson up in arms with Hulu claims it stole his story

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Los Angeles, United States of America (USA)- Former heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson, has accused American streaming service, Hulu, of making a biographical series about his life without his approval and providing him with compensation.

In an Instagram post, Tyson made it clear that he doesn’t support the series, called Mike, and said that Hulu is the streaming version of the slave master.

“Don’t let Hulu fool you. I don’t support their story about my life. It’s not 1822. It’s 2022. They stole my life story and didn’t pay me. To Hulu executives, I am just a n—– they can sell on the auction block.

Hulu tried to desperately pay my brother (UFC president) Dana White millions without offering me a dollar to promote their slave master take-over story about my life. He turned it down because he honours friendship and treats people with dignity. I will never forget what he did for me just like I will never forget what Hulu stole from me.

Hulu stole my story. They are Goliath and I am David. Heads will roll for this. Hulu is the streaming version of the slave master. They stole my story and didn’t pay me. Hulu’s model of stealing the life rights of celebrities is egregiously greedy.

(Neither) Hulu nor any of their supercilious team ever tried to engage in any negotiations with this black man. In their eyes, I am still just a n—– on the auction block ready to be sold for their profit without any regard for my worth or my family. They say this story is an exploration of a black man. It’s more like an exploitation of a black man.

Hulu thinks their tracks are covered by hiring black sacrificial lambs to play the part of frontmen for their backdoor robbery is appalling, but I will always remember this blatant disregard of my dignity.

Someone should get fired from Hulu. Producers were lying to my friends saying I supported the unauthorized series about my life,” said Tyson in an Instagram post.

The eight-episode season of Mike which is set to premiere on the 25th of August stars Michael Jai White, George C. Scott, Paul Winfield, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and Tony Lo Bianco. The show is directed by Uli Edel.

According to Hulu, Mike is an eight-episode limited series, which explores the tumultuous ups and downs of Tyson’s boxing career and personal life from being a beloved global athlete to a pariah and back again.

 

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