Security camera images recorded in Saskatchewan of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are displayed as RCMP Sgt. Janelle Shoihet speaks during a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday July 23, 2019. RCMP say two British Columbia teenagers who were first thought to be missing are now considered suspects in the deaths of three people in northern B.C. The bodies of Australian Lucas Fowler, his girlfriend Chynna Deese, of Charlotte, N.C., and an unidentified man were found a few kilometres from the teens’ burned-out vehicle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Behavioural analysis can help answer the ‘why’ in B.C. murders: expert

Once Mounties have completed a review of the case over the next few weeks, families will be updated

A criminal profiler says investigators should find clues about why two men might have killed three people in northern B.C. and whether there was a leader and a follower.

Jim Van Allen, a former manager of the Ontario Provincial Police criminal profiling unit who has studied 835 homicides, said evidence can determine what happened in most cases. But it can be harder to determine motive, and that’s where behavioural analysts come in.

“The evidence is going to take them so far. It’s going to tell them who did what to whom, at what time and how. But it’s probably not going to answer the big question on everybody’s mind: ‘Why?’” he said.

“That’s one of those behavioural issues that has to be interpreted to some degree from people’s conduct, their behaviour during the crime, what was done to the victims” and other factors.

The RCMP has said its behavioural analysis unit is assisting investigators in the case of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, who were found dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the northern Manitoba wilderness last week.

The fugitives were suspects in the July killings of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia botany lecturer, and Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.

ALSO READ: RCMP confirm bodies found in Manitoba were B.C. fugitives

Once Mounties have completed a review of the case over the next few weeks, they’ve said they will provide families with an update, then release it publicly.

Van Allen said analysts in the case are likely reviewing crime scene evidence, interviewing friends and family of the suspects and looking over other material, including online posts by the men before their deaths.

It’s not an exact science but behavioural analysis has been used to create profiles of unknown suspects, to develop strategies for interviewing witnesses and to determine the truthfulness of statements in trials, he said.

“A behavioural interpretation will never have the certainty of a fingerprint comparison or ballistics comparison. That’s the nature of human behaviour.”

Van Allen, who now lives in B.C. and works for Investigative Solutions Network, has no knowledge about the McLeod and Schmegelsky case beyond what’s been made public. But in general, he said, police can learn many details about behaviour from a crime scene.

Particularly brutal killings suggest explosive anger and offer direction to investigators in cases with no suspects.

“If you see an angry crime, then we’re looking for an angry offender,” Van Allen said. “Who has been mistreated in the last few weeks? Who’s been evicted from their home? Terminated from their job?”

Crime scenes can also show that more than one killer is involved, he said.

READ MORE: Northern B.C. homicide victim’s sister accuses fugitive’s dad of failing to take responsibility

“I’ve looked at crime scenes where you see two distinct styles of conduct,” he said. “You’ll see one (victim) is treated more brutally or unempathetically than the other. You might have a minor act of consideration for one victim. And those are two different thinking perspectives — they come from two different personalities.”

If a killer’s online history reveals a search for similar crimes, that can indicate that it was planned, he added.

Analysts will pay attention to whether a killer and victim had any relationship before an attack. If someone kills multiple people with whom he or she had no prior connection, especially if there’s evidence of intended suffering, it suggests a “thrill killing spree,” Van Allen said.

Thrill killings are rare and are especially difficult to process because the offender operates with a completely different set of moral rules, he said.

“In these crimes, the offenders get a high level of satisfaction out of just committing the murder.”

The RCMP said on its website that criminal profiling can’t replace a thorough investigation and is limited by the accuracy and details of the information on which it’s based.

It “does not use crystal balls or psychic experiences; it is a logical, systematic approach for analyzing behaviour,” it said.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Manitoba Manhunt

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Mountain Market showcases local goods

The Mountain Market is held each Sunday morning in Fernie’s Rotary Park

Summer races kick off at Fernie Alpine Resort

FAR jumps into their summer programming with mountain biking and trail running races

Summer Stories Around Town program encourages outdoor reading in Elk Valley

With storywalks and clothesline stories in Fernie and Sparwood, everyone can get reading

School District 5 identifies funding needs in yearly budget report

The SD5 board presented three main projects that need increased funding in the coming years

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

Most Read