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Manhunt In Canada

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The northern Canadian wilderness is beautiful. It's vast. It's also brutal. And it might be the hiding place for two suspected killers. Police have been scouring the region for the men who are accused of fatally shooting an American tourist and her Australian boyfriend. Another alleged victim was found 300 miles from that crime scene.

Joining us now, Jana Pruden. She's a feature writer for The Globe and Mail who's been covering this, and she's in Edmonton. Good morning, Jana.

JANA PRUDEN: Good morning.

GREENE: So what can you tell us about the people - police are trying to find?

PRUDEN: Well, a pretty disturbing picture has emerged of these two men online - some interest in, I guess, Nazism and Russian communist iconography. And beyond that, very little is known. I mean, they're a mystery to us. They are currently still on the run. Their families have spoken a little bit and have now sort of gone quiet.

And I think the whole country and beyond is just waiting to see where and when these two men might pop up or if indeed they will at all. There's a good chance, at this point, they might also be dead.

GREENE: Well, police were zeroing in on a community that they thought might be their chance at finding them. And they called in drones and helicopters and boats and the military. But it sounds like they might be scaling back now. I mean, are they giving up?

PRUDEN: Yeah, I mean, the problem is these young men had quite a head start. Initially, they were only believed to be missing and even thought to be potential victims after their vehicle was found burned out in B.C. So...

GREENE: That's British Columbia, the northwest of Canada, right?

PRUDEN: Yes. Absolutely, I'm sorry. So then another vehicle that they'd been driving was last seen on July 22. So the manhunt - they already had a few days on everybody. And they were last seen in this community in northern Manitoba. The police, the RCMP poured extensive resources, as you say, but they were not able to be located.

And some other reported sightings - there was a report that may be some men matching the description had been seen at this very isolated dump in a community way up north. Those have not been able to be substantiated. The latest tip is that they've been seen in an area called Kapuskasing in Ontario. But, again, that's still unsubstantiated at this time.

GREENE: But probably each time a community is mentioned or something, I mean, people must freak out. It's pretty terrifying.

PRUDEN: It's very terrifying. I mean, I followed their path along the northern highways 37 and 73 - extremely remote, desolate areas. People literally told me they were sleeping with their guns or sleeping with knives. And that's the same thing we were seeing in Manitoba. It's extremely scary.

These communities really rely on a lot of trust. You know, it's kind of everybody looking out for each other against these other things that might be threats. So to think of people who might be, you know, intentionally causing violence in those communities is extremely, extremely scary for people.

GREENE: How brutal is this part of Canada? I mean, you mentioned it's possible they could be dead. I mean, could they have just died because of the elements?

PRUDEN: Yeah, I mean, it's very, very beautiful. It's a very, very beautiful country, but it's very remote. Manitoba has something called muskeg, which is swamp land. The bugs are not pleasant. So they certainly are in extremely challenging physical territory at the moment.

GREENE: Jana Pruden is a feature writer with The Globe and Mail in Canada joining us from Edmonton. Thanks so much.

PRUDEN: Thank you so much for having me on.

(SOUNDBITE OF BADBADNOTGOOD'S "VELVET") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.