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

Sylvia Lindgren to run for BC NDP in Shuswap riding

Lindgren says investments in housing, childcare and seniors care must continue

Netflix star Francesca Farago seen hanging in the Okanagan

Farago got her big break as a reality TV star in Netflix’s ‘Too Hot to Handle’ in 2020

Hiker finds body of dead man in Blind Bay park

Salmon Arm RCMP determine cause of death not suspicious

B.C.’s top doctor encourages Halloween costumes to include masks

Dr. Bonnie Henry will soon be releasing guidelines on how to safely trick-or-treat this Halloween

Okanagan man savours Stanley Cup win

Stacey Roest of Coldstream gets name on trophy as assistant GM for champion Tampa Bay Lightning

B.C. VOTES 2020: Greens join North Okanagan race

Keli Westgate throws her ‘compost lady’ hat in the ring

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

Transport Canada reinstates rule that bans passengers from lower decks

Kelowna Rockets alumni Luke Schenn wins Stanley Cup

Schenn is the fifth Rocket alumni in history to hoist the trophy

Reincarnation, baby! Music-making B.C. couple celebrate ‘miracle’ pregnancy

‘I (said) to Adam, ‘I really think this is your brother reincarnated,’ Elise Estrada says

Most Read