Canadian police investigating 'suspicious' deaths of couple on side of remote highway

A witness said she'd seen them alive and their van appeared to have broken down.

ByEnjoli Francis, Alyssa Acquavella , and Courtney Condron
July 19, 2019, 4:42 PM

Authorities in British Columbia, Canada, are desperately looking for answers after the lifeless bodies of a young couple were found on the side of a remote highway.

Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and boyfriend Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia, were found Monday on Alaska Highway 97, south of Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia, according to the Northern Rockies, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Authorities said that they considered the deaths "suspicious" and that they believed the killings had occurred between Sunday and Monday. They did not specify the manners of death.

It was not clear if the couple was targeted, authorities said during a news conference Friday.

Authorities said they were looking to speak to anyone who had traveled that stretch of highway from Sunday, 4 p.m., to Monday, 8 a.m.

Their story is like a love story that you would read about ... They were just so in love and both loved traveling.

"Police would especially like to speak with anyone who may have a dashcam video while travelling that area. A vehicle -- an older blue minivan with Alberta plates -- was found at the scene and police would like to speak with anyone who may have seen the vehicle or rendered assistance," authorities said in a release Wednesday.

On Friday, authorities said they were trying to determine if that car belonged to the couple.

Chynna Deese's mother, Sheila Deese, told ABC News that her daughter had worked on farms and hostels all over the world -- including Italy and France -- and had met Fowler while working at a hostel in Croatia.

"Their story is like a love story that you would read about," Sheila Deese said Friday. "This Southern girl meets this wonderful Australian man. They were just so in love and both loved traveling."

Sheila Deese said Fowler was working on a ranch in Canada and Chynna Deese had left July 6 to help him. Since he had two weeks' vacation, he bought a van from his employers and turned it into a camper so that they could travel to national parks, Sheila Deese said. She said the two were traveling on a planned route.

In a Facebook post, Chynna Deese's sister, Kennedy Deese, said the family is "heartbroken."

"They were bright and beautiful souls," she said.

They were bright and beautiful souls.

"As a mom, this is so hard because she was part of me," Sheila Deese said of her daughter. "Kind of my mini me.

"The hardest part for me is to watch my other children hurting and suffering and their memories," she continued, turning to the anguish her three surviving children -- Deese's siblings.

"They say you're only as happy as your saddest child I'm missing one child and I have three very sad children."

Fowler's family released a statement via the New South Wales Police Force's Facebook page, saying that they were traveling to Canada to bring his body back to Australia.

"We have lost our dear Lucas Fowler, son, brother, grandson and friend in the most terrible of circumstances," the statement reads. "To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was travelling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating."

"To know his beautiful girlfriend, Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina also lost her life in this violent event is too cruel. All our love and best wishes go to Chynna’s family and friends," the statement said. "Our deepest thanks for all your love and care. At this stage we can only move forward a minute at a time, and those minutes are moving so slowly. Please share this post with all those who may have crossed paths anywhere in the world with these beautiful young people."

Carrie Hawryluk of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, told Canada's Global News that she'd seen a couple who matched the police's description of Deese and Fowler on Sunday. She said the couple and their van were on the side of the road.

"The van hood was up like it had broken down and they were sitting in some lawn chairs in the ditch," she told Global News.

ABC News' Alyssa Acquavella, Maggy Patrick and Alyssa Pone contributed to the reporting in this story.

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