A string of murders and disappearances over the past 43 years along a northern British Columbia road that has come to be known as the “highway of tears” is not the work of a single killer, police have revealed.
In a rare public update from Project E-Pana, a task force that has been working on the cases since 2005, police said on Tuesday that they have definitively resolved one of them, and they put a name to the killer: a deceased U.S. sex offender named Bobby Jack Fowler.
DNA testing in 2012 led to the oldest match in Interpol history, they said, linking Mr. Fowler to 16-year-old Colleen MacMillen of Lac La Hache, B.C., who was found dead in 1974 a month after she tried to hitchhike to a friend’s house. Mr. Fowler died of lung cancer in an Oregon penitentiary in 2006 while serving a 16-year sentence for kidnapping, assault and attempted rape.
“Fowler with certainty is responsible for Colleen MacMillen’s death,” RCMP Inspector Gary Shinkaruk told reporters at a news conference in Surrey.
Inspector Shinkaruk said Mr. Fowler is “a strong suspect” in the 1973 deaths of Gale Weys of Clearwater, B.C., and Pamela Darlington of Kamloops.
Since the late 1960s, more than two dozen women have been killed or gone missing in northern British Columbia, many of them along an 800-kilometre stretch of Highways 5, 97 and 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert – a region dubbed the “highway of tears.” E-Pana is focused on 18 of those cases – 13 homicides and five missing women.