A North Carolina woman and her Australian boyfriend were traveling the world when their lives were mysteriously cut short along a Canadian highway.
Officers from the Northern Rockies Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered the bodies of Chynna Deese, 24, and her boyfriend Lucas Fowler, 23, along Highway 97 just outside Liard Hot Springs on Monday, July 15 under what appeared to be “suspicious” circumstances, according to a statement from authorities.
The pair had been shot to death in what authorities now believe was a homicide. A blue 1986 Chevrolet van was found abandoned at the scene.
Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said authorities are now hoping to speak with anyone who may have been traveling in the rural area, including nearby camping grounds, between Sunday, July 14 at 4 p.m. and Monday, July 15 at 8 a.m.
Several witnesses reported seeing the couple along the highway with their broken-down van shortly before their deaths, according to WSOC-TV.
One witness, road worker Alandra Hull, told Australian station 9News that she saw the couple talking with a bearded man who “looked frustrated” as they stood next to their van the night before the bodies were discovered.
“If you just get a bad feeling, and that’s what I had, you just don’t stop,” she said.
Hull is now working with investigators to create a sketch of the man she saw that night with the young couple.
Deese and Fowler had reportedly been on a road trip adventure through Canada and had planned to visit a series of national parks in the van, which Fowler had fixed up especially for the trip.
Fowler’s father, Stephen Fowler, is a police chief inspector in Australia and said the family has been “crushed” by the news of the deaths.
“He’s a loss to so many people. And his girlfriend also—it’s just devastating,” he told 9News.
Deese’s mother, Sheila Deese, told WSOC-TV that her daughter had spent the last few years traveling the world.
“She loved people. She didn’t meet a stranger, but she was cautious,” she said. “It’s tragic when someone dies, but when they’re in another country, you can’t go and be near them. You can’t be face to face and ask questions or go and see where it happened.”
She is comforted by the fact that her daughter was with Fowler in the end.
"It is a love story. A Southern girl goes out of the country, meets this Australian and they were just the same personality," she said. "It was like two butterflies that found each other, and they were going to be forever."
Anyone with information about the deaths is urged to contact authorities.
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