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A manhunt is underway in Canada after a 24-year-old American woman and her Australian boyfriend were found dead earlier this week along a remote highway in British Columbia.
The bodies of Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, and Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, were found just before 7:20 a.m. Monday on Alaska Highway 97 near Liard Hot Springs, a tourist attraction, Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
A blue Chevrolet van the couple was believed to have been traveling in was found at the scene.
The couple had just begun a road trip in Canada when they were murdered, Deese's brother told the Charlotte Observer. He said the couple's van may have broken down or overheated before they were killed.
“Something happened on that road, some sort of conflict," he said.
Mark Jones, New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner in Australia, said at a news conference on Saturday that it appears the couple may have been shot. Fowler's father is an active member of the police force in New South Wales.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokeswoman Janelle Shoihet declined to confirm how the couple was killed when contacted by NBC News on Saturday. At a news conference on Friday, Shoihet said the deaths are considered homicides.
Police do not have any suspects and said they do not know if Deese and Fowler were targeted or if it "was a crime of opportunity," the department said in a press release.
Investigators are asking anyone who was in the area of Liard Hot Springs between July 14 at 4 p.m. to July 15 at 8 a.m. to contact police.
"We are particularly interested in speaking with anyone who may have dashcam footage," police said.
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Deese was from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her brother, British Deese, told the Charlotte Observer that she and Fowler had been together since 2017 after meeting at a hostel in Croatia. British said Fowler had recently moved to Canada after getting a job on a cattle farm.
“They were deeply in love,” he said. “They met traveling and that’s just what they did - travel. He was working in Canada and they were planning an extensive road trip there for three weeks. They were going to spend a week on the ranch and the second half of the trip going to national parks in Canada.”
The Fowler family said in a statement on the New South Wales police website that they are devastated by the death.
"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 traveling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating," the family said.
"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," said the statement, which added that the Fowlers are heading to Canada "to be with our boy and to bring him home."