Canadian police investigating the mysterious death of a young couple and the disappearance of two teenagers say they can’t rule out the possibility that the two cases could be connected.
Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of the United States, and her boyfriend, Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia, were found dead on July 15 along Highway 97, some 12 miles south of Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia. Fowler’s blue 1986 Chevrolet van was located at the scene, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Police have since confirmed that Deese and Fowler were on a road trip exploring Northern British Columbia and that they were “victims of gun violence.”
Four days later, police discovered a red and grey Dodge pickup truck with a sleeping camper on fire south of Stikine River Bridge on Highway 37, some 30 miles from Dease Lake. The two young men who were driving that vehicle — Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegesky, 18, both Canadian — were nowhere to be found and have not been in contact with their families in days, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
While investigating the burning truck, authorities came across the body of a man at a nearby highway pullout, less than two miles south of the scene. The dead man is neither McLeod nor Schmegesky, but is believed to be someone investigators “are working to identify,” according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The cause of death was unknown and it’s unclear how he is connected with the vehicle fire or the two missing men.
On Monday, police held back-to-back press conferences on the two cases in Northern British Columbia, initially cautioning the public against linking them but acknowledging the “growing community concerns.”
“It’s unusual to have two major investigations of this nature going on at the same time in northern B.C., so we recognize the possibility that these could be linked,” Sgt. Janelle Shoihet of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told reporters.
During the press conference, police released two separate composite sketches of individuals and asked for the public’s assistance in helping to identify them. The first is of the man found dead near the burning truck belonging to the two missing teens. He is described as Caucasian with gray hair and a full beard, having a heavy build and being between 5’8″ and 5’10” tall.
The second is of a man seen talking to Lucas on Highway 97 on the evening of July 14. He is described as Caucasian with darker skin and dark hair, possibly with a beard and glasses, and standing shorter than Lucas, who is 6’3″.
Police also released surveillance footage from a gas station in Fort Nelson, British Columbia, on the evening of July 13. The video shows Lucas and Deese arriving at the gas station in their blue van at 7:30 p.m. local time and then departing at 7:47 p.m.
Police said they are working through a number of tips and conducting interviews with individuals who saw or spoke with the couple, while also analyzing forensic and digital evidence along with reviewing hours of footage.