Highway murder of top cop's son and girlfriend shock police
Canadian police say they are "shocked" by the highly unusual nature of the murders of a senior NSW police officer's son and his American girlfriend whose bodies found by the side of a remote highway.
Lucas Fowler and his girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, were shot dead on a road trip. His father, Hills district Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler, and his family are heading to British Columbia along with a number of police officers from Australia.
"We have lost our dear Lucas Fowler, son, brother, grandson and friend in the most terrible circumstances," the family said last night.
"To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was travelling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating. To know his beautiful girlfriend, Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina also lost her life in this violent event is too cruel. All our love and best wishes go to Chynna's family and friends.
"We are all now travelling to Canada to be with our boy and to bring him home.
"Our deepest thanks for all your love and care. At this stage we can only move forward a minute at a time, and those minutes are moving so slowly. Please share this with all those who may have crossed paths anywhere in the world with these beautiful young people."
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Janelle Shoihet today dismissed reports a serial killer was responsible.
She said there was a cluster of unsolved homicides and missing persons "a number of years ago on Highway 16, but that is about 18 hours away".
"I have been here for 13 years and this is the first incident like this I can remember," Sgt Shoihet told The Sunday Telegraph.
"Homicides in the northern community (of British Columbia) are very unusual. Homicides are normally not found on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.
"I was shocked because it is so unusual. There are certainly homicides in British Columbia but generally speaking they are linked to an ongoing gang conflict."
Local police today appealed for anyone who had seen the pair's dark blue van to contact them.
"We are particularly interested in speaking with anyone who may have dashcam video," Police Sgt Shoihet said.
The Daily Telegraph understands one of NSW Police's top homicide officers, Wayne Walpole, and another detective last night travelled to Canada to act as a conduit between the family and local investigators.
Police in British Columbia appealed for help, as locals said they saw the pair with their broken-down van on the side of the highway.
The bodies were found on the Alaska Hwy about 20km south of Liard Hot Springs. The 1986 blue Chevrolet van they were travelling in was found nearby.
The couple were heading north along the highway before their van broke down on Sunday.
Sandra Broughton said she and her husband Curtis stopped to help.
"We saw a 1980s Chevy style van pulled over with the hood up and the couple was sitting over in the grass having a picnic," she said.
"They were by themselves and they didn't seem distressed.
"My husband spoke to him and (Mr Fowler) seemed to think one of the cylinders was cracked and the engine was flooded.
"They were waiting for the engine to drain and they were trying again. There was nothing we could do."
Mrs Broughton said Mr Fowler and Ms Deese didn't seem tense or in danger.
"They were pleasant and they seemed happy," she said.
"They were on their road trip. I knew he wasn't from Canada and I didn't talk to her but they had Alberta plates so thought maybe she was from there."
She said the couple were heading north, about half an hour away from the Liard River Hot Springs and more than three hours from a major town.
"Fort Nelson is an area where it is all wilderness," she said.
As tributes to couple flooded social media, Ms Deese's sister Kennedy wrote on Facebook: "It is with overwhelming sadness that I share my sister Chynna and her beloved boyfriend Lucas were recently found deceased, homicide victims along a remote stretch of highway in Canada while on a road trip. No further information is available at this time, please do not ask. They were bright and beautiful souls. We are all still in shock and heartbroken."
Appalachian State University's Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity said they were mourning the loss of their "sister" Chynna: "She was such a kind and adventurous soul and we have been honoured to call her our sister. Our hearts are with Chynna's family during this difficult time, and we are so thankful to everyone for the support and kindness we have already received."
Lucas Fowler studied at Ku-ring-gai High School and his Facebook shows him on stage with Australian rock band Dune Rats and travelling through Myanamar.
A profile on a couchsurfing website for Ms Deese - which was updated just one month ago - reveals she worked as a bartender in her home state of North Carolina and had recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor's degree in psychology and business. She was also learning Spanish.
She said her "current mission" was to be "travelling the world and looking to meet new people and experience new places from a local's point of view".
She described herself as "easy going and open mined with a positive attitude" with an interest in travel and hula hooping and she'd studied winemaking in France.
British Columbia has been gripped by fears of a serial killer with between 18 and 50 women having gone missing or found murdered on the 724km stretch of Highway 16 in northern British Columbia".
Criminologist and serial killer expert Michael Arntfield has said there was a frightening pattern but he had been unable to confirm his suspicions.