Police have updated the public on the situation surrounding a recent rash of deaths and disappearances in British Columbia and have not ruled they are connected.
Over the last week and a half, a tourist couple were found murdered; two teens went missing, their truck found on fire, and a dead body was found nearby; and two men are missing after their jeep was found abandoned. The first two incidents occurred within a six-hour drive of each other.
On Monday, BC RCMP held a joint press conference on the murder of American Chynna Deese and Australian Lucas Fowler, the disappearance of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, and the discovery of a body near McLeod’s burning truck. While Police initially downplayed the connection between the two incidents they seemed to walk this back during the press conference.
“It’s possible that they are linked but that’s all we have,” said Cpl. Chris Manseau when asked by journalists regarding a possible connection between the two incidents.
“It’s unusual to have two investigations of these times in northern BC at the same time so we can’t overlook the possibility that they’re linked,” said Sgt. Janelle Shoihet later in the press conference.
Police gave no indications the two cases were linked past those statements.
Police released two separate composite sketches, one of the man who was found dead near the burning truck and one of the man seen talking to Fowler and Deese shortly before their deaths. Police say that they still do not know who the man found dead is, nor his cause of death. They said he was a heavier Caucasian man in his 50's or 60’s who stood about 5’8”.
At the press conference, Shoihet said the RCMP were stressing “the importance of heightened vigilance” for people traveling through northern BC.
The first of the incidents occurred twenty kilometres out of Liard Hot Springs, a popular tourist location in BC. There the bodies of American Chynna Deese and Australian Lucas Fowler were found in the ditch of the Alaska Highway on July 15. The two were shot, something the police confirmed at today’s press conference, but their belongings and broken down van were left at the scene. The two were planning on doing a three-week road trip of Canadian national parks.
Police speculate their deaths happened between the afternoon of July 13 and the morning of July 14 and one witness reported seeing them in a conversation with a bearded man around that period. Whatever happened to the couple seemed to leave their body’s brutalized. Deese’s brother said that the police led them to believe his sibling’s body was in such a state an open casket funeral would not be possible.
“I don't know how anybody could live with themselves after doing what I saw,” Trevor Pierre, the road worker who found the bodies, told CTV.
A few days later, six hours southwest in Dease Lake, a truck belonging to 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky of Port Alberni was found on fire and the two young men were nowhere to be found. The discovery of the truck on fire resulted in the discovery of another body two kilometres away. The identity of the body (other than it’s not McLeod or Schmegelsky) is unknown as are the majority of details surrounding it.
To further all this, Police have recently asked for help in finding two more men who are missing after their vehicle was found empty in another part of the province. Ryan Provencher, 38, and Richard Scurr, 37, were last seen in Surrey on July 17. The two were travelling in a white Jeep. The Jeep was discovered later, abandoned near Logan Lake which is 300 kilometres north of Surry and 1,600 kilometres south of Liard Hot Springs.
Police have not indicated that this incident is connected with the other two.
Lucas Fowler's father attended the press conference where he spoke glowingly of his son and his girlfriend as fun-loving people who dreamed of travelling the world. He said that he and the rest of the Fowler family were heartbroken at the loss of Lucas and Chynna. He said the two met while travelling and fell deeply in love.
“It’s a love story that ended tragically,” said Fowler. “It’s the worst ever love story.”
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