VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Police in Canada are trying to determine if a dead U.S. convict was responsible for any of the 18 so-called Highway of Tears cases of slain and missing women.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police says while Bobby Jack Fowler has been ruled out in eight of the British Columbia cases dating back to 1969, he is linked by DNA to one case, is a strong suspect in two and is a possible suspect in the rest. Thirteen of the women were killed and five are missing -- all near Highway 16, giving it the name Highway of Tears.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Tuesday the RCMP is asking the public's help in reconstructing Fowler's movements during the early 1970s. He worked odd jobs, including as a roofer.
Authorities say Fowler's DNA was found on the body of Colleen MacMillen, 16, who was last seen alive hitchhiking to see friends in 1974 along Highway 97 near Lac La Hache. Her body was found miles away off a logging road.
He's also suspected in the 1973 slayings of Gale Weys and Pamela Darlington.
"Since we received confirmation of the DNA hit, investigators have been actively pursuing and following up on Fowler's history and movements over the past four decades," RCMP Inspector Gary Shinkaruk said.
"We have met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, contacted 31 U.S. law enforcement agencies, and 11 state or correctional departments; have traveled to Washington state, Texas and Oregon; spoken to family, associates and former cellmates all in an effort to further the investigations.
"We believe there are people out there who employed Fowler, worked with him, socialized with him or even waited on him while he was in British Columbia."
Fowler died in 2006 in prison where he was serving time for a 1996 conviction for kidnapping, assault and attempted rape in Lincoln County, Ore. The county's district attorney said Monday Fowler is now a suspect in two double homicides of female teenagers in the county in 1992 and 1995.
Fowler had a criminal record across several U.S. states but had not been a murder suspect before, and police said he did not have a criminal record in Canada, the CBC reported.
Some groups believe up to 43 women, most members of Indian tribes, were killed or disappeared. The RCMP says more than one person was likely responsible.
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