UBC community 'shocked' after botany lecturer murdered in Northern BC

Jul 25 2019, 6:58 pm

The UBC community is in “shock” after learning Leonard Dyck — a sessional lecturer in the Department of Botany at UBC — was identified as a victim of the string of murders in Northern BC.

On Wednesday, RCMP announced that Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, have been charged with one count of second-degree murder each for the death of Dyck, who was found near their burnt-out pickup truck close to Dease Lake, BC on July 19.

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Leonard Dyck / BC RCMP

Upon news of his death, Dyck’s family released a statement, saying they were “truly heartbroken by the sudden and tragic loss of Len.”

“He was a loving husband and father. His death has created unthinkable grief and we are struggling to understand what has happened. While we understand there will be interest in knowing more about him and the impact he had during his life, we are asking for the public and the media to please respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

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The UBC Department of Botany said the entire campus community is “shocked and saddened by this news.”

UBC President Santa Ono also offered his condolences to Dyck’s family.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of UBC sessional lecturer Leonard Dyck,” Ono said, in a Facebook post.

Dyck’s friend and colleague, UBC assistant professor Patrick Martone, released the following statement about the tragic incident:

 I was lucky to have known Len Dyck.

Len was a cherished lecturer in UBC’s Department of Botany. When you first met Len, he had a somewhat gruff exterior, but students soon realized he was a knowledgeable, trusted teacher and scholar who loved sharing his enthusiasm and curiosity and showing them how to uncover hidden gems in the natural world.

 Len completed a Bachelors’ of Science degree in marine biology in 1978, then a Masters’ of Science in botany in 1991 and finally completed his PhD in botany in 2004. All of his studies were at UBC and he began working for the university a sessional lecturer in 2003.

He emulated and worked with many preeminent scholars in his field and helped the department carry their legacy into the future. His behind-the-scenes efforts in the department, his field collections and his work with students in the classroom make him truly irreplaceable. He had an amazing depth of knowledge, and a way of opening students’ eyes to the diversity of life that we study. His passion for learning about bizarre and beautiful organisms that few people ever get to see, inspired our students to feel that same passion and awe.

Mostly, I will miss Len’s laugh, which often followed some wry comment. It makes me tear up thinking that I won’t get to hear it again. He held his cards close to his chest, but as soon as you realized how much passion he had for his work, he was so much fun and a joy to be around. It was obvious that he was doing what he loved. He was a really special man.

All of those who knew Len are deeply and profoundly saddened by his passing. As we mourn his loss, we respectfully ask media to allow us the space to grieve in private.

Search for suspects continues

The manhunt continues for McLeod and Schmegelsky and Canada-wide warrants have been issued for the teen suspects.

McLeod and Schmegelsky are also suspects in the deaths of 24-year-old Chynna Noelle Deese and 23-year-old Lucas Robertson Fowler.

Manitoba RCMP confirmed that the RAV4 the pair were travelling in, was recovered on fire in the Gillam area in the Northern part of the province in the evening of July 22.

Kam McLeod is described as:

      • 6 foot 4
      • Approximately 169 pounds
      • Dark brown hair and facial hair
      • Brown eyes

Bryer Schmegelsky is described as:

      • 6 foot 4
      • Approximately 169 pounds
      • Sandy brown hair

The BC RCMP Major Crime tiplines remain open in support of the Leonard Dyck, Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese homicide investigations. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-877-543-4822 or 778-290-5291.

Anyone who sees McLeod or Schmegelsky is instructed to call 911 immediately.