This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
One week ago, a road worker was making his way down a British Columbia highway when he discovered the bodies of two tourists.
The bodies were that of Chynna Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lucas Fowler, a 23-year-old from Australia. The couple was found dead on the side of the Alaska Highway about 20 kilometers [12 miles] south of a popular tourist spot in northern B.C. called the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park. Family members of the two say they have been told by authorities that the couple was shot—police have not confirmed this publicly.
Police believe they was killed in a time span from late afternoon July 13 to early on the morning of July 14.
Witnesses say that the couple was stuck on the side of the highway working on their broken-down van. By all accounts, the couple were in high spirits shortly before their deaths. One witness, Sandra Broughton, said they were having a picnic as they waited for their van’s engine to unflood.
"The guy knew what he was doing and he was confident they would be OK" Broughton told the CBC. "They didn't seem in distress. They seemed like a young couple in love, just on their road trip in their van going north."
Alandra Hull, another road worker, said that when she passed the van the couple was in an intense conversation with a bearded man who “kind of looked frustrated or something.” He was holding his palms out and was just staring at the couple.
We don’t know exactly how they were killed but Trevor Pierre, the road worker who discovered the bodies, said they were found in a ditch. Deese was closer to the road and about five meters [less than a mile] behind her was Fowler. Deese only had one shoe on whereas Fowler had none.
“I don't know how anybody could live with themselves after doing what I saw,” Pierre told CTV.
The van the couple were trying to repair had a window smashed and was towed away later as evidence. Deese’s mother told ABC most of their belongings were left at the site. Deese’s brother told the Charlotte Observer that they’ve been kept in the dark regarding the exact details of the deaths but have been led to believe they were killed in brutal fashion—to the point an open casket is not possible.
The couple met in Croatia two years ago when traveling. Speaking to CBC, Deese’s mother described the pair as “kindred spirits.” She said Fowler was in northern BC working on a ranch and her daughter went to visit him. The couple was planning a three-week road trip in which they would drive from national park to national park and camp in their van. Deese’s mother said she was a “giver” who “loved all places and all cultures.” The brother of Deese said he is “forever indebted” to his sister “for being such an amazing life companion and giving me SO many reasons to smile.”
“Life throws curveballs and you made every one easier to handle,” he wrote. “This is a curveball I did not expect. Losing you is going to hurt so much.”
Fowler’s family released a statement through an Australian Police Department of which his father is a member.
“To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was traveling the world and just enjoying life to the full[est], is devastating,” reads the statement. “To know his beautiful girlfriend, Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina, also lost her life in this violent event is too cruel.”
Bizarrely, when police took to a press conference to ask the public for their help they had a cat filter on during their live stream, meaning the officer outlining the deaths of the two young people had an anime-style little kitty whiskers and ears. Police quickly realized their mistake, pulled the video and uploaded one not run through a cat filter.
The deaths of Deese and Fowler aren’t the only to have occurred recently in the area. On Friday, a dead body was found near Dease Lake about two kilometers [less than a mile] from a burning truck. Dease Lake is near the B.C. Yukon border and is about a six hour drive west of the Liard River Hot Springs. The two occupants of the vehicle, 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky of Port Alberni, are considered missing. Police have not released much information but have indicated the body found was neither McLeod or Schmegelsky.
Police have not suggested any of the incidents are related.
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