Neighbours of teen suspects fear infamy
NEIGHBOURS in the small Canadian town where teen fugitives Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky grew up reportedly believe the pair have left the community with a bad name.
The New York Times reports that residents in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island in British Columbia fear that tourists will stay away from their town now that it is know as the birthplace of the teens who are believed to have killed Australian Lucas Fowler, his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese, and 64-year-old Canadian Leonard Dyck.
Schmegelsky and McLeod were found dead last week after a three-week manhunt captured headlines around the world with an autopsy revealing this week that they killed themselves.
"It's a black eye for any community," said Mike Surrell, owner of Lady Rose Marine Services, a tourism company located in the town's pretty but dilapidated port. "People don't expect this kind of thing to happen in a sleepy little town like this."
Port Alberni is a town of just 18,000 people, which locals proudly call the salmon capital of the world.
Dale Leier, who calls himself the "Codfather" of Port Alberni and runs a fishing store of the same name, said locals had no more insight than anyone else about what motivated the teens to allegedly kill three people.
"Everybody is asking: Why did they do it?" he said. "How did they elude the police for so long? Did they have help? Were they survivalists? There are so many unanswered questions."
Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said the town is trying to sell itself as a tourism destination and that this "is not an association we want".
Bryer Schmegelsky's father, Alan Schmegelsky, told 60 Minutes Australia that he needed more evidence before he was sure that his son murdered Fowler.
"I'm not going to say my son is a murderer until I get some facts," he said. "You want me to sit here and tell you that my son positively murdered your co-citizen? Because I won't, because I can't. I can't do it."
The comments were met with anger from Chynna Deese's sister, Kennedy, who told News Corp Australia that Mr Schmegelsky was "playing the victim".
"He is trying to relate to us, when he played a part in the cause of our pain. We had no doing in his," she said. "His sorrow is for himself and not sincerely for us," she added.
"We are not cut from the same cloth, as he has played the victim throughout his life and won't acknowledge his hand in his child's upbringing and ultimate demise," she said.