BC RCMP say there is no indications of any heightened risk to public safety nor any confirmed links to a serial killer after two international tourists were found murdered near Liard Hot Springs this week.
In a press conference Friday afternoon, RCMP officials said their investigation in the killings of Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia and Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of North Carolina, sometime between July 14 and 15 is in its early stages, and again pleaded to the public for information to help their investigation.
"We recognize this news is troubling for the entire community and absolutely appreciate there are concerns for safety, in an area that is popular with nature enthusiasts and tourists," Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said.
"This investigation is in it's very infancy and it is not yet clear whether Lucas and Chynna were targeted or if this was a crime of opportunity. At this point, we have nothing to indicate that their deaths are linked to any other active and ongoing investigations in the area, or if there is a heightened risk to public safety. Our investigators will consider any and all information carefully as the investigation progresses."
Shoihet said there is no evidence to link the killings to a serial killer in the region, noting reports by some international media outlets. She called the killings a "unique circumstance."
"There's some indications from international media that they may be related to other crimes that occurred in different parts of the province. We're talking about completely different geographical areas," Shoihet said. "There's nothing to link those two at this point."
RCMP say a blue 1986 Chevrolet van with Alberta plates was found at the crime scene, 20 kilometres south of the hot springs. Police are looking to speak with anyone who may have seen the van or tried to help Fowler or Deese. Police are trying to determine whether they or someone else were driving the van.
Police are looking to speak with anyone who drove the stretch of highway between Sunday, July 14 at 4 p.m. and Monday, July 15 at 8 a.m. Police want to speak with anybody who has dashcam video of their travels through the area as they narrow down the timeline of the killings.
"If you were witness and you did see this particular van or you were witness to either Chynna or Lucas travelling in the area, contact us," Shoihet said.
"We recognize the fact people may be travelling there and have now arrived at their destination points. There's access to Alberta, Yukon, into Alaska ... and there may be people who weren't aware (of the murders) until now in seeing that we're looking for these details."
Investigators are still on site, Shoihet said. Additional policing resources will be brought in as necessary, she said.
Fowler was the son of New South Wales Police Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler, and was living in B.C. His family is travelling with Australian police to Canada to bring Fowler's body back to Australia.
Australian police are not assisting in the RCMP investigation, contrary to reports from Australia media. The FBI helped RCMP contact Deese's family in the U.S.
Deese was a graduate of Appalachian State University in North Carolina, with degrees in business and psychology, according to her Couchsurfing page, , where Deese wrote she was "traveling the world and looking to meet new people and experience new places from a local's point of view."
In a Facebook post, Deese's brother, British Dwayne, said his younger sister had been visiting Fowler to help brand cows at the ranch he worked at, and to travel. The two had just begun a road trip, he said.
"24 hrs ago I found out why my little sis didn't text me back. Chynna and Lucas' lives were abruptly taken from a random act of violence while starting their road trip through Canada," he wrote.
"She's is so deeply woven as a piece of my childhood and everyday life. I am forever indebted to her for being such an amazing life companion and giving me SO many reasons to smile."