An Australian-American couple found dead south of the Liard Hot Springs last week were killed by “gun violence,” police confirmed, as they continue to look for leads.
BC RCMP’s Janelle Shoihet said it remains unclear whether Chynna Deese, 24, and 23-year-old Lucas Fowler were targeted, or whether their deaths were a “crime of opportunity.”
Their bodies were found 20 km south of the Liard Hot Springs along the Alaska Highway. Police are treating the deaths as a double homicide believed to have taken place between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning last week.
RCMP are searching for a man seen speaking with Fowler on the Alaska Highway during the evening of Sunday, July 14. Sgt Shoihet confirmed the man is not a suspect, however, police wish to speak with him.
The man is described as Caucasian with darker skin, dark hair, and shorter than 6 ft 3 in, which is Fowler’s height. Police say the man was believed to have been travelling southbound on the highway and could be connected with a Jeep Cherokee bearing a “black stripe on the hood and a black light/bull bar with small, covered lights.”
RCMP released a composite sketch of a man seen speaking with Lucas Fowler on Sunday.
Police also renewed calls for help from anyone in the area between Sunday and Monday last week, including those who might have been in outlying areas or camping spots near the Liard Hot Springs.
Anyone with information can call Northern Rockies RCMP at 250 774-2700 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1 800 222-8477.
An RCMP map showing the approximate area where Deese and Fowler were found.
Meanwhile, police said a separate investigation into the disappearance of two teenagers is ongoing.
The missing men are Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni, BC. The area is 470 km from the location of the Alaska Highway double homicide. Police on both investigations are sharing files and information, Sgt Shoihet confirmed to Cabin Radio via email, as they look at possible links between the two cases. “(RCMP) are investigating the possibility they may be linked recognising the unusual nature that major investigations such occurring at similar times,” she stated.
A police handout photo of the two missing men whose vehicle was found burning in the Dease Lake area.
On July 19, police responded to a vehicle fire in the Dease Lake area along Highway 37. The vehicle belonged to the two young men, who were traveling through BC toward Whitehorse for work. “It is not clear why they returned to BC and what their travel plans may be,” RCMP stated in a news release Sunday.
A police map showing where a vehicle of two missing men, and close by a body of a third man, were found.
While investigating the vehicle fire, police found a third man’s body at a pull-out two kilometres away. That man is still unidentified. Police have confirmed it is neither McLeod nor Schmegelsky.
“It is unclear at this time how this deceased male might be connected with vehicle fire or the two missing men,” RCMP stated.
Police are describing the deceased man as Caucasian with a heavy build, between 50 and 60 years old, with grey hair and a grey beard. Police estimate his height between 5 ft 8 in and 5 ft 10 in. Anyone with any information about the man is asked to call 1-877-543-4822 or 778-290-5291.
Police released a composite sketch of the man found dead near Dease Lake.
‘Growing community concerns’
In a news release on Sunday, police acknowledged there are “growing community concerns about the ongoing homicide investigations in Northern BC.”
Police are asking people to take “general safety precautions” and remain vigilant.
“We also remind travellers to share your plans with family and friends, establish check-in times, and notify someone if your plans change,” the RCMP stated.