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RCMP says 'possible' connection between homicides and body found in northern B.C.

Last Updated Jul 29, 2019 at 12:30 pm PDT

Summary

Investigators released a sketch of a man found dead on Friday near the camper of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky

Schmegelsky and McLeod were travelling through to Whitehorse to look for work; they are now considered missing

Police also released a sketch of a person of interest in the Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese homicide investigation

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Investigators with the BC RCMP say it is “possible” the homicides of American Chynna Deese and Australian Lucas Fowler are connected to a body found by a burned-out trailer belonging to two missing men from Port Alberni, 500 kilometres away.

At a press conference on Monday, investigators released a sketch of a man found dead on Friday near the camper of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky. They said the body is not either of the missing Port Alberni men and are asking for the public’s help identifying him.

Police said in a release Sunday night that officers investigating reports of a vehicle fire on Highway 37 about 50 km south of Dease Lake received information that led them to discover the body at a highway pullout about two kilometres from the scene of the fire.

Schmegelsky and McLeod were travelling through B.C. to Whitehorse in the Yukon to look for work and hadn’t been in contact with their families for the past few days, police said. They were last seen in Dease Lake on Thursday travelling in the red and grey Dodge pickup truck with a sleeping camper that was later found burned.

Police are asking for help in finding Bryer Schmegelsky (L) and Kam McLeod (R) whose vehicle was found burned south of Stikine River Bridge on Highway 37. The 18 and 19 year olds are considered missing.

Dease Lake is about 470 km away from where 23-year-old Fowler and 24-year-old girlfriend Deese were found murdered earlier in the week along the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs.

At the press conference, police also released a sketch of a person of interest in that case, and confirmed the two died of gunshot wounds.

A blue 1986 Chevrolet van with Alberta licence plates was also found on the side of the highway. Police want to speak with anyone who may have seen the minivan or spoken with the couple between the afternoon of July 14 and 8 a.m. the next day.

“Our investigators are speaking to each other, sharing information,” RCMP Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said. “It’s unusual to have two major investigations undergoing of this nature in northern BC at the same time and so, we recognize that there is a possibility that these could be linked.”

She added it’s highly unlikely the two missing men from Vancouver Island killed Fowler and Deese.

“I don’t believe that is something that we’re looking at,” Shoihet explained. “At this point, we are certainly investigating them as missing persons and we’re hopeful they are going to get in contact with us. Absolutely, we’re hopeful that they are alive.”

Lucas Robertson Fowler and Chynna Noelle Deese were found dead by the side of a highway in northeaster B.C. on Monday, July 15, 2019. (BC RCMP)

Shoihet shot down reports about a possible link between these two cases to numerous disappearances or murders along B.C.’s so-called Highway of Tears, saying they were pure speculation at this point.

Fowler’s father, an active member of the New South Wales Police Force, says the family is “devastated” by the loss of his son.

Stephen Fowler came to Canada last week in the wake of his son’s death, but is not assisting with the investigation. He said at the press conference that he won’t speculate on how the investigation is being handled by the BC RCMP, but nothing could have prepared his family for this tragedy.

“I may be an experienced police officer, but today I’m standing here as the father of a murder victim,” Stephen said. “We are just distraught. This has really torn two families apart. Nothing prepares my family for what we’re going through now.”

He called the death of his son and Lucas’ girlfriend “a love story that’s ended tragically.”

He added he has confidence in local police.

“As an experienced police officer, I know how these investigations go,” Stephen said. “My family and I are more than satisfied with the resources they’re putting into this. I am more than confident in the commitment of all the officers working on this case.”

While investigators said there is a “possible” connection between the cases, they would not elaborate on what that connection could be.

With files from the Canadian Press.