Police in British Columbia are not ruling out a connection between the murders of two young tourists, the disappearances of two teenagers, the burnt out camper truck they had been driving, and an unidentified body found nearby – all in the remote northern part of the province.
“It’s possible,” Cpl. Chris Manseau, a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), told reporters at a press conference on Monday.
“We have two complex and dynamic ongoing investigations that are happening in northern B.C. and we have major crime working on both files.”
The bodies of 23-year-old Australian Lucas Fowler and his 24-year-old American girlfriend Chynna Deese were discovered on July 15 near their blue, 1986 Chevrolet van about 20 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs, a popular tourist destination in the far north of the province, about 150 kilometres south of the boundary with Yukon.
RCMP confirmed Monday that the two were shot dead.
Police have released a sketch of a person of interest in the killing of Fowler and Deese. Police said he was seen talking with Lucas on Highway 97 on the evening of Sunday July 14. He is described as a Caucasian man with darker skin, dark hair and a possible beard or glasses. Police say he is shorter than Fowler who was 6’3.
The man may be associated to an older model Jeep Cherokee with a black stripe on the hood and a black light/bull bar with small, covered lights. He is believed to have been travelling southbound, police said.
Police have also released security camera footage of Fowler and Deese taken at a Fort Nelson gas station on July 13 at around 7:30 p.m.
Fowler’s father, New South Wales Police (NSWP) Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler, who has arrived in Canada to follow the investigation pleaded with potential witnesses to come forward.
“As you know I may be an experienced police officer but today I’m standing here as the father of a murder victim,” the high-ranking Australian police officer said. “We are just distraught. This has really torn two families apart.”
Lucas was having the “time of his life travelling the world,” Fowler said.
“He met a beautiful young lady, and they teamed up. They were a great pair and they fell in love,” said Fowler.
In addition to the video footage and maps, police also released a sketch of an unidentified man found dead near Dease Lake, about 460 kilometres west of Liard Hot Springs.
The man’s body was found on July 19 at a highway pullout, about 50 kilometres south of Dease Lake after police were called to respond to reports of a burning truck.
Police described the unidentified victim as a Caucasian man in his 50s or 60s, with a heavy built and height between 5 foot 8 and 5 foot 10. The man had grey hair and grey bushy beard.
The burnt out Dodge pickup truck with the camper belonged to 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky.
Police say the pair had not been in contact with their families for a few days. Both young men are from Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island.
They were travelling north to Whitehorse to look for work but were last seen driving south on Thursday, July 18 after apparently leaving a grocery store near Dease Lake.
Police say they’re not sure if the two had a change of plans.
RCMP consider them missing and hope to find them alive.
Anyone with any information about the identity of the deceased man or the location of the two missing teenagers is asked to call 1-877-543-4822 or 778-290-5291.