The young couple found dead along a highway near Liard Hot Springs in northern B.C. had been shot, police said Monday.
On Monday, RCMP provided an update in the deaths of Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of North Carolina and Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia, who were found along Highway 97 in northern B.C. on the morning of July 15. Fowler’s vehicle, a 1986 blue Chevrolet van with Alberta licence plates, was also found at the scene.
Spokesperson Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said Fowler was living in B.C. and Deese was believed to have been visiting him.
Asked if there was a robbery or sexual assault at the time of the killings, or if the crime was targeted or opportunistic, Shoihet declined to comment.
Shoihet said police have been reviewing thousand of hours of security camera footage, speaking to witnesses and reviewing physical and digital evidence.
Investigators released a sketch of a man they believed is linked to the case, but is not a suspect.
He is described as being below six-foot-three, Caucasian, with darker skin, dark hair and a possible beard or glasses. Police say he may be associated to an older Jeep Cherokee with a black stripe along the hood and a black lightbar with covers. The car is believed to have been travelling south.
He was seen speaking to Fowler on the evening of July 14 on Highway 97.
Here is a sketch of a man believed to have been speaking with Lucas Fowler on July 14, the night before the couple was found dead, as well as the location the couple's bodies were found. Man is NOT a suspect, @BCRCMP say.@BlackPressMedia pic.twitter.com/zoqNCJwtC4— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) July 22, 2019
The Fowler family travelled to B.C. from their home in Australia where the father, Stephen Fowler, is the chief police inspector in New South Wales.
The Deese family are receiving regular updates at their home in the U.S., and will not be coming to B.C.
On Monday, Fowler’s father addressed the media.
Stephen Fowler, who is a chief police inspector in New South Wales, said he was “satisfied” with the RCMP’s work.
“We are just distraught. This has really torn two families apart,” Stephen said.
“Our son Lucas was having the time of his life travelling the world.”
|Stephen Fowler speaks to the media about the death of his son, Lucas Fowler. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)|
Stephen described Lucas as a “fun-loving guy with a heart of gold,” Deese as a “beautiful young lady” and the couple as a “great pair.”
Lucas met Deese while he was travelling the world, Stephen said, and the pair became “inseparable.”
“It’s a love story that’s ended tragically. It’s the worst ever love story,” Stephen said.
Shoihet implored those sharing tips about the case on social media to contact RCMP at 1-877-543-4822. She noted that the remote nature of where the couple’s bodies were found means there is less security footage to review and asked those in the area on July 14 and 15 to contact police.
The couple were last caught on camera at a gas station in in Fort Nelson on July 13 between 7:30 p.m. and 7:47 p.m
Questions have swirled as to whether the Deese/Fowler case is connected in any way to another investigation, about 500 kilometres southwest near Dease Lake.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are missing after the pair’s car was found on fire on Highway 37 near the Stikine River Bridge on Friday.
.@BCRCMP not ruling out anything, including that the deaths could be connected to the missing teens case in some way. Question about serial killers, possible sexual assault, ties to other deaths are unanswered as of Monday.@BlackPressMedia— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) July 22, 2019
Shoihet neither denied nor confirmed when asked if police are worried about a serial killer at work in B.C.’s north.
A man was found dead near the scene, and police released a composite sketch of him in the hopes of learning his identity. They said it’s possible he could be linked to the young couple.
Shoihet acknowledged public concerns about safety in the region with the “tragic and unusual” nature of Fowler and Deese’s deaths, as well as the man’s body found about 500 kilometres away.
“We would like to stress the importance of heightened vigilance and awareness for anyone travelling in and around the area,” she said.
Police are encouraging travellers to camp in known and established areas, keep in contact with family and have a plan of where they are headed.
“It’s a love story that’s ended tragically. It’s the worst ever love story.” Says Stephen Fowler of how his son and his girlfriend died. He said the two were “inseparable.” @BlackPressMedia— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) July 22, 2019