Canadian highway murder suspects named
Two teens who vanished from a Canadian Highway are now considered suspects in the murders of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese after they were brutally killed on the notorious stretch.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, were initially believed to be missing from Highway 37, also known as the Highway of Tears, in northern British Columbia.
But Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) today confirmed they're now believed to be on the run in connection with the murders of three people who were found dead on Highway 97 on June 15.
The suspects are also wanted in connection with the death of an unidentified man, in his 50s or 60s, found about two kilometres from their burning pick-up truck on Highway 37 last Friday, according to the RCMP.
Police said the pair has been spotted in northern Saskatchewan, and was believed to still be travelling. They were last seen in a grey 2011 Toyota Rav 4.
It comes a week after Mr Fowler, 23, and Ms Deese, 24, who were on a road trip to Alaska, were found dead on the side of Highway 97, 20km south of Liard River Hot Springs in British Columbia.
Police later confirmed they were "victims of gun violence" after earlier revealing their bodies were "unrecognisable".
Authorities repeatedly dismissed the notion that a serial killer was on the loose after a third victim was found on Friday. The man's body was found near a burnt-out truck six hours west of Liard Springs.
But police did confirm they are seeking to speak with a man seen arguing with Mr Fowler on the night before he was murdered.
The federal police agency has released a sketch showing the man wearing a cap and a beard.
"I want to be clear this man is not a suspect. He's a person with whom investigators wish to speak," RCMP spokeswoman Janella Shoihet said.
Canadian police have released CCTV footage of the last time Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese were seen at a petrol station.
"Today we're asking for the public's assistance in identifying a man seen speaking with Lucas on the evening of July 14 on Highway 97," a RCMP media spokeswoman said on Monday.
"He is caucasian, has dark skin and dark hair, is shorter than 6'3" and has a possible beard and glasses.
"He was driving an older model Jeep Cherokee with a black stripe on the hood and was believed to have been travelling southbound."
As well as a composite sketch of their "person of interest", police released haunting CCTV footage of the last time Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were seen together.
The vision, captured a petrol station, shows the couple hugging as Mr Fowler fills the van with petrol.
Officers at the press conference - which was attended by Lucas's father, NSW Police Inspector Stephen Fowler - were peppered with questions from frustrated members of the local media about why there has been so little information about the investigation.
"Why can't you give us an indication of how he died?" one reporter asked in relation to the third victim, found near a burnt-out car.
"The public is wondering what is going on. They're not getting answers from you. Why can't you give us an idea about whether there is a linkage (between the three deaths)? Is there a serial killer? People have the right to know."
But police would not go into detail. They would not confirm whether the third victim was murdered or how he died.
Stephen Fowler answered questions at the press conference. He described the slaying as the "worst ever love story".
"We have two young people who had everything before them," he said.
Mr Fowler said his family was "taking it a day at a time" and that "it's extremely difficult for all of us - we just hope to take a breath."
Asked if he was satisfied about the speed of the investigation, he said he had no complaints.
"I know there's been a lot of speculation. As an experienced police officer I know how these investigations go. I'm more than comfortable with the commitment of all the officers working on this case."
Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were found a short distance from the blue 1986 Chevrolet van they were travelling in on Monday morning.
In a statement, the Dease Lake Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they have been unable to locate the pair.
"It is unclear at this time how this deceased male might be connected with vehicle fire or the two missing men," police said in an earlier statement.
"At this time, investigators are sharing information and police would like to ensure awareness around both investigations.
"The RCMP would ask the public to continue to take any general safety precautions and remain vigilant at this time."
Passing motorists Curtis and Sandra Broughton were the last people to see Mr Fowler and Ms Deese alive. The Canadian couple stopped to offer assistance just before 3.30pm on Sunday.
Mr Broughton, a mechanic, said he spoke to Mr Fowler, but the 23-year-old seemed to know how to fix the van.
"The vehicle was flooded out and they were going to try and get it going again until they could get the parts they needed," Mr Broughton told AAP.
The Broughtons got back in their car and drove home.