Mounties have linked a now-dead kidnapper and sex offender from the U.S. to at least three murders
, dating back nearly 40 years, in a stretch along B.C.'s so-called Highway of Tears.
Police believe violent offender Bobby Jack Fowler
was working “odd jobs” in the Prince George area during the early ’70s, around the same time 19-year-olds Gale Weys and Pamela Darlington and 16-year-old Colleen MacMillen were murdered.
Eighteen young women vanished or were killed along Highways 5, 16, and 97 in B.C. from 1969 to 2006. Mounties are still checking their evidence, but have ruled out Fowler as a suspect in eight of the cases
Currently, police are chasing another two suspects.
“It’s always struck me how many men are capable of this,” said a solemn RCMP Staff Sgt. Wayne Clary on Tuesday.
“We’re confident a single killer is not responsible for all cases,”
said RCMP Staff Sgt. Wayne Clary, adding that in the decades-long investigation covered 700 boxes of police files, 750 DNA profiles, 1,400 persons of interest, 2,500 interviews and 18,000 investigative enquiries.
DNA submitted to Interpol this year linked evidence found on MacMillen to authorities in Oregon.
Fowler, a 66-year-old former roofer and a drug user who, police say, believed hitchhiking women desired to be violently assaulted
, didn’t have a Canadian criminal record, so previous searches within the country found nothing.
Fowler died in an Oregon prison in 2006 of lung cancer while serving a 16-year sentence for kidnapping, assault and attempted rape. He is additionally a “person of interest” or suspect in at least seven U.S. homicides, two of them double murders.
“We are comforted by the fact that he was in prison when he died, and that he can’t ever hurt anyone else,” MacMillen said.
Family members of Fowler interviewed by police in the U.S. have accused him of killing a relative, although a body has not been found.