The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are not ruling out a possible connection between the double murder of an American-Australian couple, two missing Canadian teens, and a man found dead near the teenagers’ burned-out vehicle—all in Northern British Columbia.
The murders and disappearances have startled residents in the province and sent investigators into overdrive in a frantic effort to solve the crimes. RCMP Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said the police are open to the possibility of the crimes being related.
“Our investigators are speaking to each other, sharing information, and certainly looking at the possibility that they may be linked,” Shoihet said at a press conference Monday. “Understandably it’s unusual to have two major investigations undergoing of this nature in Northern B.C. at the same time.”
The RCMP released a composite sketch of a person of interest in the murder of Chynna Noelle Deese and Lucas Robertson Fowler on Monday. Deese, a 24-year-old American, and Fowler, a 23-year-old Australian, were traveling on a road trip to visit national parks in Canada when they were found shot dead off of the Alaska Highway, about 12 miles south of Liard Hot Springs.
The sketch is of a man whom a witness saw speaking with the couple on the Alaska Highway, also known as Highway 97, on the evening of July 14. The man was described as Caucasian with darker skin and dark hair wearing a cap, and possibly with a beard. Shoihet said the man was driving an older-model Jeep Cherokee with a black stripe on the hood.
The RCMP released CCTV footage of the couple on Monday as well. The two are seen at a gas station, hugging while waiting for their blue 1986 Chevrolet van to fill up.
Stephen Fowler, Lucas’ father, is a senior officer in the New South Wales police force in Australia. He urged anyone with information to come forward to help solve the case.
“It’s a love story that’s ended tragically. It’s the worst ever love story because we now have two young people who had everything ahead of them tragically murdered,” Fowler told a press conference in Surrey, British Columbia.
The couple’s murders became more mysterious when the RCMP discovered an unidentified man’s body four days later near Dease Lake, about 290 miles from the couple’s bodies. RCMP found the man’s body after finding a burned-out pickup truck belonging to Canadian teenagers Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, who were officially declared missing Monday.
Schmegelsky sent a text to his father on July 12, saying he was going to Alberta with McLeod and that they would not have cell service. Schmegelsky’s father told Chek News he hasn’t heard from either of the teenagers since.
“I’m saying as a dad, those two boys are still out there, go find them,” he told the news outlet. “They’re good boys, they’re really good boys, they’ve been friends since elementary school.”
The teens were last seen at the general store in Dease Lake in Northern B.C. on July 14. Their burned-out vehicle, a Dodge truck with a camper, was found the next day about 30 miles south. The unidentified man’s body was found about one mile from the camper at a highway pullout.
Police have also released a composite sketch of the man who was found dead near Dease Lake, in hopes of identifying him. He had a beard, a heavy build, and was between 50 and 60 years old.
The RCMP have issued a warning to travelers in the area, especially encouraging people to camp in established areas or locations and to set established check-in times with their families.
“With respect to public safety we share the concerns that are being raised, given the tragic and unusual nature of these two investigations that we have underway,” Shoihet said. “We would like to stress the importance of heightened vigilance and awareness for anybody traveling in and around the area.”
The RCMP is asking anyone with information in any of the cases to call the tip line at 1-877-543-4822.