UPDATE: Police have named the two missing teenagers as persons of interest in the deaths of three people found on northern B.C. highways. Read the update here. The original story from July 22 follows.
The B.C. RCMP are not ruling out links between the fatal double shooting of a pair of tourists, a man found dead near a burned-out vehicle and a pair of missing B.C. teens — all in northern British Columbia.
“It’s possible,” said RCMP Cpl. Chris Manseau at a police press conference Monday.
“We certainly are open to those possibilities. And our investigators are speaking to each other, sharing information and certainly looking at the possibility that they may be linked,” added Sgt. Janelle Shoihet.
“Understandably it’s unusual to have two major investigations undergoing of this nature in northern B.C. at the same time.”
The comments came as Mounties provided updates on both cases, along with a pair of composite sketches related to the two investigations.
One sketch is of a person of interest in the killing of Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese. Police say the man is not a suspect, but was seen speaking with the couple the night before their bodies were discovered.
The pair were found near their blue, 1986 Chevrolet van south of Liard Hot Springs on Highway 97 last Monday.
WATCH: Police release surveillance video of murdered tourists in northern B.C.
Police confirmed Monday that the two were shot dead.
WATCH: RCMP seeking missing teens after vehicle fire and body found
The man is described as Caucasian with darker skin, dark hair and a possible beard or glasses. RCMP say he is shorter than six-foot-three.
The man may be linked to an older-model Jeep Cherokee with a black stripe on the hood and a black bull bar with lights covered, and which was last seen travelling southbound.
Police are also releasing video footage of Fowler and Deese taken at a Fort Nelson gas station on July 13, which shows the couple arriving in Lucas’ van around 7: 30 p.m.
The second sketch may relate to the case of Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, two Port Alberni men who remain missing, and police say they hope to find alive.
Both young men were travelling to Whitehorse, Yukon in a red and grey pickup truck with a sleeping camper, and B.C. licence plate number LW6433
Police found the vehicle on fire Friday, July 19, south of the Stikine River Bridge on Highway 37, about 50 kilometres south of Dease Lake; a man’s body was found about two kilometres away at a highway pullout.
WATCH: Double homicide victim’s family desperate for answers
Investigators have now released a composite sketch of that man, who they are trying to identify. Anyone who has information on him is asked to contact police.
Mounties also said that McLeod and Schmegelsky may be travelling in an area without cell phone reception, and are urging them or anyone who has seen them to contact police.
Anyone with information on either case is urged to call the RCMP’s new tip line at 1-877-543-4822.
While police provided some new details on the two cases, they left several key questions unanswered Monday.
The manner of death of the man found on Highway 37’s remains unclear, and police refused to say whether he was a victim of homicide.
Mounties did not answer questions about whether Deese was sexually assaulted before her death, and would not speak to a possible motive in her and Fowler’s homicide.
“I recognize that those are questions that you really want to have answers to, and those are questions we’re looking for the answers to as well,” Shoihet.
“These are fluid, complex, dynamic investigations and we need to be able to number one, verify the information we have, and then also confirm that the information is accurate. Information is coming in on a momentary basis.”
WATCH: More witnesses come forward describing final hours of dead tourist couple
As for whether the two missing teens could be involved in the tourists’ death, police said it was unclear.
“I don’t know, I don’t have that information,” said Manseau.
“It’s possible that they are linked, but that’s all I have, I’m sorry. At this point we’re looking at them as missing persons.”
Monday’s press conference also saw Lucas Fowler’s father, New South Wales Police (NSWP) Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler speak publicly for the first time.
“Our son Lucas was having the time of his life travelling the world. He met a beautiful young lady, and they teamed up. They were a great pair and they fell in love. We were overjoyed for Lucas,” said Fowler.
Fowler said his son had saved up for a trip around the world, which is how he met Deese. The pair had then planned to travel Canada by van, he said.
“It’s a love story that ended tragically. It really is the worst-ever love story because we now have two young people who had everything ahead of them tragically murdered,” he said.
“As a police officer you you work with families all the time, and you get a feel for the lay of the land. But nothing prepares me, nothing prepares my family for what we are going through now.”
Fowler expressed gratitude to Australian authorities who have deployed two NSWP officers to B.C. to help liaise with the RCMP, and said he was “more than satisfied” with the resources local investigators were dedicating to the case.
“I can tell you I am more than confident in the commitment of all the officers who are working on this case,” he said.
Police said significant resources were dedicated to the case, and that investigators were liaising with police in neighbouring jurisdictions.
However, they also issued a warning to travellers in the area.
“With respect to public safety, we share the concerns being raised given the tragic and unusual nature of these two investigations,” said Shoihet.
She said police were stressing the importance of “heightened vigilance” to anyone travelling through the area.
To that end, travellers are being advised to camp in known and established areas.
They’re also stressing other safety precautions, including ensuring people’s families know where they are and what their travel plans are.
Travellers are advised to establish check-in times, and stick to those check in schedules. They’re also being told to ensure friends or family know if their travel plans change.
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