Day: September 6, 2019

Father of suspected B.C. killer watches clip of video taken before son’s death

VANCOUVER — The father of a man suspected of killing three people in northern British Columbia has watched part of a video that has been described as his son’s “last will and testament.”

Alan Schmegelsky’s lawyer, Sarah Leamon, says she and her client reached an agreement with the RCMP and were able to watch a 30-second clip of the video on Thursday.

Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, and Kam McLeod, 19, were found dead of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the wilderness of northern Manitoba after a national manhunt for the pair.

Leamon says a non-disclosure agreement prevents her from speaking about what the video shows, but RCMP have said it depicts what Bryer Schmegelsky wanted to be done with his body after he died.

She says Alan Schmegelsky became “extremely emotional” and “very upset” while watching the clip and it has been a very difficult time for him.

Leamon says it’s unfortunate that he had to take the step of getting a lawyer in order to see a video that should have been shown to him in the first place.

“That part of it is regretful, but I am pleased to see that the RCMP was willing to negotiate out this agreement, which in my view properly protects the integrity of the ongoing investigation while also acknowledging my client’s parental rights as a father,” she said.

In the email exchange between Leamon and the RCMP obtained by The Canadian Press last month, an officer writes that information about Bryer’s wishes was passed on to his mother, who is next of kin.

“At this time, we will not be providing access to the video for Alan,” the officer wrote in the email. The message doesn’t say why, but Leamon said the RCMP told her it’s because the investigation is ongoing.

Alan Schmegelsky declined comment on Thursday due to the non-disclosure agreement he signed with the RCMP, saying only, “There are no easy days.”

The RCMP declined comment, saying it would not be discussing its private communications with family.

The father is estranged from his son’s mother. Leamon says she believes the mother watched the same 30-second clip.

The lawyer adds that she doesn’t know the length of the full video and her client was not allowed to have a copy of the clip or record it because the RCMP is maintaining exclusive conduct of it.

Schmegelsky and McLeod are suspected of killing a young tourist couple — American Chynna Deese and Australian Lucas Fowler — and botany lecturer Leonard Dyck in northern B.C. in July.

The murders sparked a search for the two fugitives that ended when they were found dead in northern Manitoba.

The Canadian Press

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By The Wall of Law September 6, 2019 Off

Taking a taboo topic to Twitter: Mike Sloan’s journey of living with a terminal disease

When he speaks you can hear the cancer closing in around his vocal cords. Mike Sloan’s vast vocabulary is masked by his raspy tone. It sounds as if each word he utters, steals away another breath. Though he’s clear to tell anyone who asks, it doesn’t hurt to talk, he just “sounds like shit.”

The 49-year-old looks healthy, though just below the surface he’s living with stage four Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. He began to lose his voice in October of 2018, his doctor thought he had the flu. On February 2nd he was rushed through emergency by a triage nurse, the doctor there told him blankly “I think you have cancer.” From that day forward Mike began sharing his journey of living with a terminal disease on Twitter. His posts look at dying with dignity. They’re raw, real, and manage to find some humour in death.

Sitting in his apartment in London Ontario, Mike says with the grin, “I’ve always been a smartass…”

His comfort zone is sitting at his computer with his 30 pound cat, Chubb. Typing away on social media, sharing his lived experience. Some might be put off by his dark sense of humour, though he tells us 90 per cent of his posts receive positive feedback, including these:

When asked if its important to find levity during a time some would find traumatic, Mike references a Joan Rivers quote, “you have to be able to laugh through tough experiences.”

Mike doesn’t have a spouse or any children, and admits it allows him to view his own mortality through a difference lens. Though not all his posts on twitter are tongue-in-cheek. Some offer a heartfelt glimpse of a man who knows his time is coming to an end.

Since he began tweeting about the final chapter of his life, Mike estimates about 1,000 new people are now following him. He’s surprised even a single person finds his story interesting, though after giving it much thought, he’s discovered, “If you talk about things that have happened in your life people will come along for the ride and will share their stories as well.”

Mike finds himself often explaining why he decided not to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. “I thought I’m not going to ruin my last summer feeling sick with those horrible treatments.”

Just days ago a doctor told him “given what’s happening you likely have 6-10 weeks to live. Another doctor said that must be a gut punch. I said no, not really. I mean I know my time is coming to a close. I can feel it, I can feel the tumours, my voice is changing again.”

The native of Lakefield, Ont., near Peterborough says he’s thankful to have had the time to reconnect with friends from years ago – and make amends with some too. Though the tears begin to stream down his cheeks as he contemplates having to say goodbye.

“I feel that’s the work I have left to do in the six to ten weeks I have. I have to tell them how I feel.”

Mike also shields very private scars from his past. For reasons he clearly doesn’t want to dive into, Mike isn’t very close with his immediate family, though he says he’s blessed with many friends. You’ll find some of their names are written on tape, already pasted to the personal items they’ll receive when he passes on. He points to an empty stand “I’ve already given away my TV, that at one time sat there, because I know someone who bought a new home.”

When contemplating the end of his life, Mike says he’s not afraid to die. Though the thought of dying by asphyxiation does frighten him. It’s one of the plausible outcomes of the deadly disease and its unrelenting grip around his neck. So, he’s chosen to go on his own terms, opting for medically assisted death.

“Mike is a guy who’s been in charge of his life. He now gets the chance to do that when the times comes when he’s decides he’s had enough,” says Dr. John Clifford, who will be at his side when Mike decides its time to go.

The two have only met a handful of times though Mike has left an impression on Dr. Clifford who tells us “he is unique, it can’t help but have a sobering effect on people who hear his story. It gives his life and likely his death a great deal of purpose.”

Dr. Clifford says Mike will be the ninth patient he’ll assist in death since he shut down his rehab medicine practice in January to turn his full attention to helping people die with dignity. Calling it the “most rewarding work in my 40 year, career.”

Having control over how he’ll die brings a smile to Mike’s face.

“It’s freeing because I don’t think any of us want to suffer.” He goes onto say, “I’m in no rush to die. I suspect mid-to-late October, I think my body will tell me when its time.”

Mike plans to have a bit of a soiree when the time comes.

“I’m going to have some friends over, there’s going to be beer, liquor for smokers, I might have one or two, now that marijuana is legal I can’t skip out on that. I’ve mentioned finger foods. I don’t want it to be a sad thing.”

Through sharing his lived experience with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer, he now has about 3,000 people following him on Twitter and the number of people reading and watching his story increases each day. He’s received hundreds of kind messages that he says he truly appreciates. Though the vast majority of people following his journey towards the end are strangers. Sitting at a picnic table in London’s Victoria Park, he leaves us with this.

“If I were to say anything, I’m no different than anyone else. Of course my personality might be a little bit different, I might have made different life choices. We’re all going to have to face end of life. Every tree in this park, every squirrel that runs by, we’re all going to die… Take the time to think about it and enjoy whatever time you have.”

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By The Wall of Law September 6, 2019 Off