The 23-year-old Australian shot dead while road-tripping in Canada was murdered in a botched robbery, according to his girlfriend’s brother.
Lucas Fowler, the son of a New South Wales Chief Inspector, and Chynna Deese, 24, were found shot dead on the side of Alaska Highway in British Columbia on Monday.
The couple met in a Croatian hostel in 2017 and spent the next two years sharing their love of travel by visiting Central and South America, Japan and South East Asia.
They were about to embark on another journey across ‘the top half of the globe’, beginning in remote Canada and stretching over to Alaska.
Canadian police launched an investigation into the double homicide after the couple were found in ‘horrific circumstances’ about 7am, not far from their old blue mini-van.
In the wake of the investigation, friends of Mr Fowler have shared videos of the young Australian living life to the fullest.
Ms Deese’s brother Stetson said he suspected the pair were victims of a robbery gone wrong as his sister’s passport was the only form of identification left in the van.
Lucas Fowler (right), the son of a New South Wales Chief Inspector, and Chynna Deese (left), 24, were found shot dead on the side of Alaska Highway in British Columbia on Monday
The couple met in a Croatian hostel in 2017 and spent the next two years sharing their love of travel by visiting Central and South America, Japan and South East Asia
‘If that’s all they found it means they were robbed. There could have been a wallet, but the passport was the only ID,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.
Mr Deese explained he had been out of town when his family was notified on Wednesday and he was struggling to grapple with the tragedy that doesn’t sound ‘real’.
He described his sister and her Australian boyfriend as a ‘travelling couple’ who would have likely married along the track.
‘They were both really nice and that’s what brought them together — the last people you would expect this to happen to,’ he said.
Mr Deese said his sister became inspired to travel after seeing him venture across the globe. The duo were known as the ‘travellers’ of the family.
When Mr Fowler and Ms Deese went on a road trip across South America, the family were more wary of the dangers.
‘We told her not to do that but she was fine. She had to drive through Mexico and Central America, It seems like that would be more dangerous than Canada,’ Mr Deese said.
The family ‘didn’t think too much’ about safety concerns while travelling Canada, he said, adding that a lot of people road trip across the country during the summertime.
Ms Deese’s brother Stetson (right with Chynna) said he suspected the pair were victims of a robbery gone wrong as his sister’s passport was the only form of identification left in the van
Stetson Deese described his sister (right) and her Australian boyfriend (left) as a ‘travelling couple’ who would have likely married along the track
The couple met in 2017 and spent the next two years sharing their love of travel by visiting Central and South America, Japan and Southeast Asia. Pictured: Mr Fowler
Mr Deese said his sister was free spirited and the family would be holding a big funeral because she was extremely popular.
The comments come as footage of Mr Fowler is shared by grieving friends in a tribute.
The 23-year-old is seen smiling while sitting in the back of a car with friends, splashing around in a pool and yelling over cliffs at the Blue Mountains.
‘You were the kindest, funniest, sweetest most carefree and happy human I have ever come across in my life,’ the tribute to Mr Fowler read.
‘No matter what was going on you would just walk in with a beer in one hand, smile and say ”she’ll be right”.’
‘I didn’t know Chynna but she must have been just as wonderful and unique as you.’
Mr Fowler was working at Venator Ranches in Hudson’s Hope, in remote British Columbia.
His girlfriend, a recent graduate in psychology and business from Appalachian State University, made her way to the ranch just over a week ago for ‘branding of the cows’ and the start of their travels.
Lucas Fowler (right) is pictured with his American girlfriend Chynna Deese
The bodies were found about 20km south of Liard Hot Springs, and an old blue mini-van was found at the scene
Mr Fowler’s father Stephen, the chief inspector for Sydney’s north-west Hills district, and his mother are on their way to Canada ‘to be with our boy and to bring him home’.
‘To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was travelling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating,’ the Fowler’s said in a statement.
A third body was discovered close to where Mr Fowler and Ms Deese were murdered, Royal Canadian Mounted Police revealed on Saturday AEST.
Officers were called to a truck fire south of the Stikine River Bridge on Highway 37 when a passing motorist told them they had just seen what they believed to be a body at a nearby Highway pullout.
A separate investigation has now commenced and Canadian police added they did not believe the scenes are related.
On Friday it had been suggested that a serial killer might be responsible but police refuted these claims on Saturday, revealing that the bloody murders were ‘unique’.
Mr Fowler (pictured) was working at Venator Ranches in Hudson’s Hope, in remote British Columbia
Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese (centre) are pictured with Ms Deese’s mother (right) and brother (left). The couple were road-tripping through Canada when their bodies were found on Monday
In a press conference NSW Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones confirmed the couple had been shot in ‘horrific circumstance’.
Injuries inflicted on the couple were so ‘brutal’ that Ms Deese’s heartbroken brother, British Deese said an open casket would not be allowed at her funeral.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are leading the hunt for the killer.
North District Rocky Mountain Police Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said police were called to the area of the Alaskan Highway at 7am local time.
The bodies were found about 20km south of Liard Hot Springs, and an old blue mini-van was found at the scene.
‘At this point we have nothing to indicate that their deaths are connected to any other deaths,’ Sgt Shoihet said.
Local police appealed for anyone who had seen the pair’s dark blue van to contact them.
‘We are particularly interested in speaking with anyone who may have dashcam video,’ Sgt Shoihet said.
Police added that 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’.
The last people to speak to Mr Fowler and Ms Deese appears to be Sandra and Curtis Broughton, a Canadian couple who said they were driving past, saw the broken down blue van and stopped to help.
North District Rocky Mountain Police Sergeant Janelle Shoihet (pictured) said police were called to the area of the Alaskan Highway at 7am local time
The bodies were found about 20km south of Liard Hot Springs, and an old blue mini-van was found at the scene (pictured)
‘We seen the blue van broke down on our journey home on Sunday and we stopped and asked if they needed help,’ Ms Broughton wrote on Facebook.
‘I can’t believe that this young couple are dead now. This makes my heart so sad.’
Mr and Mrs Broughton stopped to help the couple with their van about 3.30pm on Sunday.
‘We were going south home to Fort Nelson, we were on our way home,’ Ms Broughton told Daily Mail Australia.
They saw the van was pulled over with the hood up, but the young couple were sitting on the grass nearby having a picnic.
‘With my husband being a mechanic, he likes to make sure people are okay see if they need help,’ she said.
‘My husband talked to the young man Lucas, he seemed to know what the [van] problem was.
The last people to speak to Mr Fowler and Ms Deese appears to be Sandra and Curtis Broughton (pictured), a Canadian couple who said they were driving past, saw the broken down blue van and stopped to help
They saw the van was pulled over with the hood up, but the young couple were sitting on the grass nearby having a picnic
‘An engine problem, the engine was flooded, the one cylinder wasn’t working. He was quite confident it would be okay,’ she said.
Ms Broughton said they didn’t seem distressed or in danger, despite the van troubles.
‘We did see if they needed our help and he said ‘no’, he was okay,’ she said.
‘They said they were okay and we went on our way.’
The couple seemed pleasant and happy during the ‘brief encounter’, and told Mrs Broughton they were heading north.
‘It’s such a peaceful corner of the world up here,’ she said.
‘At this time of the year there are a lot of travellers doing to the Alaska highway dream.
‘They seemed like a lovely couple, a young couple in love.’
Lucas Fowler (left) and girlfriend Chynna Deese (right) of Charlotte, North Carolina, were travelling when they were killed. Ms Deese was visiting her boyfriend at a cable farm before they were to travel the top half of the globe
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones spoke to media outside Sutherland Police Station in Sydney on Saturday
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones spoke to media outside Sutherland Police Station in Sydney on Saturday and thanked colleagues in the Australian Federal Police and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their work.
‘Also a special thank you to Qantas for the work they have done in some really short time frames to assist in getting the family over to Canada for what is clearly going to be an unbelievably sad and distressing part of their life,’ he said.
Assistant Commissioner Jones said Mr Fowler’s father, Stephen, and the whole family are devastated.
‘In respect to Stephen, I won’t say much apart from the fact that he is an outstanding police officer, police area command,’ he said.
‘I had a chance to speak to him yesterday and he and the whole family are devastated by what has occurred and our heartfelt condolences go out to Stephen, his family, and of course the family of the young victim from the USA.’
Ms Deese’s brother British said he endured the ‘most chaotic day’ of his life in the wake of the tragedy
Ms Deese’s brother British (pictured left in both pictures with sister) recalled the moment he was advised the couple met a violent end. ‘Chynna and Lucas’ lives were abruptly taken from a random act of violence while starting their road trip through Canada,’ he wrote on Facebook
The NSW Police Force have sent two detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad to Canada to liaise and provide appropriate support to family members.
In a heartbreaking Facebook post, Ms Deese’s brother British said he knew something was wrong when his sister did not answer his texts.
He said the day he found out she was murdered was ‘the most chaotic day of my life’ and spent hours on the phone with the US Embassy and investigators.
’24 hrs ago I found out why my little sis didn’t text me back,’ he wrote on Friday.
‘Chynna and Lucas’ lives were abruptly taken from a random act of violence while starting their road trip through Canada.’
Ms Deese’s brother explained his sister travelled to Canada to visit Mr Fowler for the ‘branding of the cows’ at a ranch he worked in.
The bodies of Australian Lucas Fowler and his girlfriend Chynna Deese (pictured) were found on the side of the road on Monday
Mr Fowler, from Sydney’s Hills District, is the son of NSW Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler
‘She’s is so deeply woven as a piece of my childhood and everyday life,’ he continued.
‘I am forever indebted to her for being such an amazing life companion and giving me so many reasons to smile.
‘Life throws curveballs and you made every one easier to handle. This is a curveball I did not expect. Losing you is going to hurt so much.’
Amid reports the couple fell victim to a serial killer, Ms Deese’s father, Dwayne, told the Observer otherwise.
‘I think of someone who has been convicted of violent crimes before, someone on drugs,’ he said.
‘What worries us is that person is still on the loose and they have a head start.
‘This is going to happen again. There needs to be some kind of a warning system in place for tourists.’
In a heartbreaking statement on Friday evening, the Fowler family confirmed they lost Lucas (right with Ms Deese) in ‘the most terrible circumstances’. They are now in the process of travelling to Canada ‘to be with our boy and to bring him home’
The injuries inflicted were so ‘brutal’, Ms Deese’s heartbroken brother, British Deese said, the family was told an open casket would not be allowed at her funeral
FOWLER FAMILY STATEMENT
To our dear family and friends,
We have lost our dear Lucas Fowler, son, brother, grandson and friend in the most terrible of circumstances.
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.
We are all now travelling to Canada to be with our boy and to bring him home.
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.
Ms Deese’s sister Kennedy said the family are ‘heartbroken’.
‘It is with overwhelming sadness that I share my sister Chynna and her beloved boyfriend Lucas were recently found deceased, homicide victims along a remote stretch of highway in Canada while on a road trip,’ she wrote on Facebook.
‘They were bright and beautiful souls. We are all still in shock and heartbroken.’
Ms Deese’s former sorority Zeta Tau Alpha at Appalachian State University said they were honoured to call her a ‘sister’.
‘She was such a kind and adventurous soul and we have been honored to call her our sister,’ they wrote on Facebook.
‘Our hearts are with Chynna’s family during this difficult time, and we are so thankful to everyone for the support and kindness we have already received.’
On Ms Deese’s couchsurfing page, the 24-year-old wrote her ‘current mission’ is ‘traveling the world and looking to meet new people and experience new places from a local’s point of view’.
Ms Deese, who was learning Spanish and studied winemaking in France, described herself as ‘easy going’ and ‘open minded with a positive attitude’.
‘To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was travelling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating,’ the Fowler family said of their son (pictured) in a statement
Ms Deese’s sister Kennedy said the family are ‘heartbroken’ in a Facebook update
On Ms Deese’s couchsurfing page, the 24-year-old wrote her ‘current mission’ is ‘travelling the world and looking to meet new people and experience new places from a local’s point of view’