'You may think he's a monster but he's my son'
The father of Bryer Schmegelsky – the teenager accused of killing three people, including Australian man Lucas Fowler – has spoken out for the first time since the bodies of his son and fellow fugitive Kam McLeod were discovered in far-north Canada.
In the exclusive 60 Minutes interview, Alan Schmegelsky said the loss of his 18-year-old son is "heartbreaking" despite the disturbing crimes he is accused of committing in his final weeks.
"You may think he's a monster but he's my son, he's my Bryer," an emotional Schmegelsky told 60 Minutes reporter Sarah Abo.
"I didn't meet that monster… that's not who I know."
Abo spent the past two weeks with Schmegelsky as he was desperately awaiting news of the police manhunt to track down the teenage fugitives.
60 Minutes cameras were there in the moments after he received word his son's body had been found.
"He was my only child. [I'll] never get to hug him again, never get to spend time with him again," he said.
"At least I know where he is, his troubles are over, I'm sad that he felt he had to take that road trip."
Bryer Schmegelsky and his best friend, 19-year-old Kam McLeod were wanted over the deaths of three people, including Australian man Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese.
On July 15, Fowler and Deese were found shot dead by the side of a remote highway.
Schmegelsky and McLeod were connected to the murders after the body of local university Professor Leonard Dyck was found over 470km away in regional far-north Canada, four days later.
The teenage fugitives remained on the run from Canadian police for almost three weeks, before their bodies were discovered in scrubland close to Gillam, Manitoba.
When Alan Schmegelsky heard what had happened to his son, he was distressed.
"I am still in shock," he told Abo.
"There's a lot of things that happened … and none of it did I volunteer for and none of it do I wish on any other parent."
Schmegelsky said his son was quiet and spent most of his time online gaming with his friends.
"He was raised by YouTube and video games," Schmegelsky says, and admits his son's childhood was challenging.
"He had a lot of time with very little attention given to him and I know that," Schmegelsky said.
"He could have had a better upbringing."
Bryer had more recently shown an interest in camping and outdoor survival practice, after he was given a $600 air-soft rifle by his father for his 17th birthday.
Exclusive video obtained by 60 Minutes shows Bryer shooting pellets from the imitation gun in the woods near his home in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.
But Schmegelsky defends his decision to buy his son an air-soft rifle, and says it was motivation for Bryer to enjoy the outdoors away from the violent computer games he spent his time playing.
"It was getting him out of the woods with his buddies, it was getting him outside," Schmegelsky told Abo.
"I never gave him a real gun. I never gave him a gun that would kill someone."
Despite the evidence against his son, Schmegelsky is struggling to come to terms with the fact Bryer died as one of the most wanted - and hated - men in Canada.
But he still wants more proof before he'll truly believe his son is a killer.
"We'll never know the answer. Everyone's so quick to judge… he might be a victim in all of this for all we know," he told Abo.
"I'm not going to say my son is a murderer until I get some facts."
To watch 'Hunting for Answers' in full and for more information on 60 Minutes, visit the official website.
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