Murder, Lucas Fowler, Leonard Dick discussed on The Big Story

The Big Story


Jordan heath rawlings and this is the big story. Lash etzel is a reporter with news eleven thirty in vancouver and she's been on it since the beginning eyelash i can you tell me just first of all well how strange this story has been to cover over the past three weeks probably one of the strangest just because of all this lack of information that that we felt that we had with this case because a lot of the times when you know we're able to find some kind of information about the the suspect something that can help us you know walnut except what they did or dismiss it but at least try to understand a motive and understanding about getting inside their minds but we're we'll be all we had this time was a couple photos from surveillance footage <hes> stories about going to another province for work and just some information nation about the teens from friends that they had made on social media and gaming platforms <hes> that we weren't even sure was really them or maybe just a couple of fotos does so it over all this has just been really strange to see something that is stretched over almost a month now that this has been going on and just to see see the despite the longtime that we've been talking about this story the little information that we still have about it so tell me where this story began and how different <hes> <hes> was it back then when you first heard of the story <hes> what did please describe it as well. This was a case spanning twenty four days from the time that we first heard about this too just the other day hearing about <hes> what we expect to be the kind of the conclusion so we first came into the story on monday july life fifteenth and that's when police came into its saying that they had found two bodies about twenty kilometers south of leered hot springs. That's on the alaska highway and those death seem suspicious but police didn't offer many details so all we had as journalist was two bodies bodies and it wasn't until three days later on july eighteenth that we learned their identities. We're going to begin with this. A man hunt is underway after the american woman and her australian boyfriend were found dead china d._c. And lucas fowler were on a road trip in northern british columbia police in fowler's native australia. Throw you say it appears. They were both shot. We learned the pair had they had met her. <hes> hostile in croatia two years ago fallen in love and they were avid travellers travelers and they were on a road trip across canada when they were murdered now the two young men at the heart of the story <hes> who were found dead the other day. How were they initially reported. Initially so <hes> cama cloud and brownish miguel ski weren't even in the picture at all. They eventually actually came into this as being reported missing v._c._r.'s n._p._r. Asking for the public's assistance in locating nineteen-year-old kim mccloud and eighteen year old brier squiggle ski from puerto bernie have not been in contact with their family for the last few days they were driving the vehicle found on fire fifty kilometers south of dease lake. The family family said that they had left their home port l. bernie on vancouver island on july twelfth and said that they were going up to white horse to find work work so that's quite a drive up <hes> from all the way from the island all the way up to <hes> well way up to white horse and they hadn't been i heard from since so the family was concerned <hes> and but they were just reported as missing at the time so that's all that we knew about it and that's how they were reported. Adverse was that we had these murders and that these boys were missing but we did not know exactly how they were involved and there's one other victim that comes into play play here and who's that yes so <hes> what we had then was <hes> on july nineteenth r._c._m._p. And dease lake aac that's around a twenty hour drive from vancouver got a report of a dodge pickup truck with a camper on fire just south of the town and that's when a man's man's body was found two kilometers away but days went by and that man was not identified for several days <hes> this is actually aware <hes> shimon belsky and mcleod finally kind of came into the public eye four days later and several hundred kilometers away another mystery this one near dease lake lake a pickup truck outfitted with sleeping camper was discovered on fire the owners nowhere to be seen but not far away. This man was found dead along a highway. You pull out. It's not clear what kind of connection he had. If any to the camper truck it was being driven by nineteen year old cama cloud and eighteen year old brier sh- miguel ski from vancouver couvert islands r._c._m._p. Said that the truck found on fire was being driven by the pair but at this point like. I said they were just called missing scene so we're wondering are they part of. Are they victims in this are they connected to this man's body because we weren't even sure if the vehicle was connected to this man at all we learned that the like i said the pair traveling up to white horse to find work and no one had heard from them since but there had been reports that they've been spotted medal lakes scotch win. That's about a twenty four hour drive from dease lake so these are vast expanses that that this seems to already be covering and it was another two days and finally <hes> r._c._m._p. <hes> release that the man that they had found the mystery man that had yet to be identified fide as leonard dick. He is a <hes> botanist who taught at the university of british columbia and he's from vancouver and this at at this point r._c._m._p. Announced that schmidt elsie mcleod or actually being treated as suspects given these latest developments kaman brier are no longer considered answered missing the r._c._m._p. Are now considering ken macleod and brirish miguel sqi a suspects in the dease lake suspicious death and the double homicide of luke's fowler and tannadice this is when we finally start to hear that the young men <unk> are moving away from being labeled as missing to being suspects in these murders so from your perspective and the rest of the media and i guess <hes> families and just general <hes> british columbians as well right before that announcement was made what was going on in the community <hes> what was has the coverage like when when the r._c._m._p. Would hold press conferences because at that point you've got to separate murders including three people two missing teens and if i remember knbr correctly from out here nobody really knew how to connect the dots no at this point. We weren't sure how to connect them. A lot of this was because we were waiting for those dots connected by r._c._m._p. We knew about the deaths of of the to tourists we knew about the mystery man <hes> but we didn't understand how how that tied in exactly to <hes> mcleod and szumowski because all we knew is that they're finally learned that the truck that they have been driving was the one that was found on fire and so the information that we had was limited and so at the at those news conferences there was just so many questions being thrown at police saying like can you tie by these together. Can you tell us information and it was still like very early in the case so we weren't having quite the same like news conferences that we were seen every day once the ones the search manhunt began in gillam in earnest up until that point. I think a lot of us were just reaching out to all the r._c._m._p. Detachments and these are detachments that i don't don't think get a lot of the attention that they were getting so it for them. It was a very cautious approach of we don't want to release too much information when we are still working on this is case confirming it ourselves so once mcleod inch mcculskey were considered suspects. I'm then you guys started digging a little deeper into who they were and what became clear when you start you're doing now. The first lot of the information that we were getting was through social media some friends of the teens or people who said that they were friends in new them through social media dan gaming sites <hes> had brought forward some photos of <hes> briars miguel ski in particular the video showing him standing in <hes> combat bat fatigues of a rifle in hand <hes> as well as some like apparently on air soft replica rifle and wearing a gas mask and also some photographs autographs of like a saas tika armband and a hitler youth knife longingly at this point. We weren't sure there's not a whole lot out there about these boys but we're we're not trying to label them as anything when we don't know exactly what they are. We have no no posts on social media about the the pair but what they wanted to do. There's is nothing suggesting that there was any sort of malicious intent at this point so all we really had that point was a couple of photos <hes> and we didn't want to just be making these assumptions about who these boys were their family coming out saying these were young boys. They just wanted to work. They had just finished school looking for <hes> the next opportunity and felt that they could could find out in another province so tell me <hes> how and where the real man hunt started in what happened from there so it wasn't really until july twenty first i that the man hunt itself really began in earnest or at least in the public eye <hes> up until this point the boys had just been missing and that was the point on on that date that they were finally confirmed as <hes> suspects in the death of <hes> china and lucas fowler and also charged in the murder of leonard dick from vancouver so the next day on july twenty second <hes> police found burned out vehicle near the fox lake cremation reserve outside gillam manitoba and that we still had to wait some days before police. He's confirmed that that car was actually the one that the <hes> that was linked to the boys and that it had been stolen it belonged to leonard dick and that macleod inch miguel ski had stolen that vehicle and <hes> likely brought it to this point but this is also the day that anyone i can confirm that they actually saw the pair and police finally identified leonard dick on that day over the next couple of days the search around gillam intensified and this is a small town it was just inundated with mounties and the military they were searching by land and water air and they set up information check stops along the only road in and out of the community now. This was just to talk to residents get to know them. Also maybe jog their memories. Now of course these boys had been on the run or at least missing for many days and that gave them lots of time to not be in the public eye and get across a vast amount of area where people would just look at them and think these are just two boys choice in a car or on a road trip or they're just going from point a. to point be so that gave them a lot of time to cover quite a bit of ground and this was is just they're hoping that at some point in gillam that that somebody may be just recognizes them and maybe they even accidentally or they they helped them not knowing that they were suspects in any murderers because even at this point most of us didn't know so like any good samaritan you see somebody on the side of the road. You might stop and help them and you don't know so this itself like this. This whole search is intensifying in in this very rural and very untamed in an unforgiving part of the country. I mean the the northern parts of the prairie provinces <hes> i'm from calgary and just going up to northern alberta and in northern manitoba itself. These are vast expanses of dense bush. This is must gag. That's let's swamp open bog and just really hard to get through <hes>. You can't drive for most of it. There's only a couple of access roads and you're surrounded. This is the one of the heights of the bugs season and there's just wildlife everywhere so there's just all those risks and that terrain is tough. This is the kind on of land that you can easily sink into and just never be seen again at this point. We're wondering if they got lost out there. This search might never ver- come to an end and this might have slowed them down but it also meant that would hinder the the police searched for them as well because the police also had to go through the same land that these boys were going through so tell me about then because you mentioned that that was sort of july twenty third twenty fourth tell me about the ten plus days <hes> before their bodies were actually found this week because there wasn't a lot of information but there were all kinds of rumors rumors. There certainly were so many people coming forward saying that they had seen them in <hes> in northern b._c. In alberta <hes> other or people once once the days started to roll by people started calling in saying to ontario police that they had seen the boys in ontario so now now the question became had the boys doubled back perhaps found another car and made their way south and got into ontario because there's just so many there's is limited roads and limited access so obviously police looking into all of these tips getting hundreds of tips by this point and nothing being confirmed not nobody nobody being able to provide that that physical proof or or the very sure thing that this was a verified sighting of the boys and so actually the last time that we really knew that we had seen the boys confirmed was on monday july twenty second and since then there had been nothing so there were a lot of rumors is going around a lot of fear in communities at one point <hes> r._c._m._p. Being sent down to <hes> yordan to check out and make sure that any <music> <hes> there were had been reports again unconfirmed so we had another community that was getting involved in a high alert and again r._c._m._p. Swarming the area that turning out to be nothing so r._c._m._p. Call were called down and resume the search around gillam. That's really where they seem to to intensify the search for for those boys and it's not that they didn't search a small area they searched eleven thousand square kilometers and with within perspective that that is larger than the g._t. A that would be searching all of the g._p._a. And that's in swamp. That's in rough terrain so that's not an actually a very easy search and it turns out that they were found not too far from there right ultimately so what we had was that on like you mentioned that the ten days so on august fourth we had members in the r._c._m._p. Underwater recovery team they started this search of the section of the nelson river <hes> near near gillam and about northeast of it after they announced that they had found a damaged aluminum boat on the shore two days before and r._c._n. R._c._n. Manitoba had the dive teams go through the water around that area over the weekend but they didn't find too much. They told us that then then they were they found some items on identified items in the area along with the boat that kept them centered around that and this was an area that was is eight kilometers from where the suspects were the last known vehicle was found on fire just outside of gillam and so this was actually not not very far when you think about the fact that they had searched eleven thousand square kilometers and it all came down to just eight kilometers away this morning at approximately ten a._m. R._c._m._p. Officers located to male bodies in the dense brush within one kilometer from where the items were found. This is approximately eight kilometers from where the burnt vehicle was located at this time we believe these are the bodies of the two suspects wanted in connection with the homicides in british columbia. What do we know about how they were found. What condition they were in. What were they found with etcetera etcetera. How did this end at at this point. We don't know much about how they were found exactly where they were found and and in what condition beyond that we know police. These were saying that we i that police believed without a doubt that these were the bodies of cat cloud brirish miguel sqi. We don't know at this point what the cause of death is of these two bodies that were found <hes> exactly where they were found if they were found in the water <hes> if they had some connection into that aluminum boat what were those items that were found on the shore did they. They were linked to the boys. But what exactly were they so but these men are dead and we're never going to get a trial already. Are we ever going to find the answers to these questions. A trial at this point is probably unlikely most the time if somebody is found dead obviously there's nobody to charges oranges nobody to punish <hes> police have said that at this point they they feel confident but they're going to keep investigating <hes> to make sure that there are no other suspects acts that there are no other <hes> that they believe that there's no other way that lucas fowler china dis and leonard dick could have been killed other than by <hes> <hes> shmegegge game macleod but we just have so many unanswered questions and like you said that we still don't know exactly why the boys left home if they had a plan to find work in white horse if that was actually true how could they become suspects in the murders of these three individuals and charged urged in one of them so far and if they are responsible for all these deaths what happened i mean police say that. They don't think the deaths were targeted so so we don't know why these young men could have possibly done this so what happens next all right now. It is waiting for that autopsy on the bodies. It's it's being done as we speak so police should get some answers in the next coming days when they release that information or even if they do it's still still up in the air and then through that we're just gonna keep seeing police probably mentioning talking about the ongoing investigation. They might not release a whole lot of information about how they're gathering their evidence but at the end of the day because of the high profile nature of this case we will hopefully find out ultimately when this case will be closed and when they when they have determined that that these boys although they will never see a trial and i don't think that we will ever be able to you in the public eye definitively say that they were convicted of these murders or that they that they that they did them. I the end of the day that leaves the police will say we do not believe that they were that these murders were committed by anybody else so that we don't think that that we have some people still on the loose when you have a case like this that involves different parties it spans provinces that spans thousands and thousands of kilometers and you have a multiple <hes> divisions of the r._c._m._p. This n._p._r. Involved and local police nobody's really saying anything. How do you piece something like this together. In a newsroom with a lot of people and a lot of people are looking at very different angles angles. Thankfully we have multiple people in the newsroom who were able to make out different calls to the various r._c._m._p. Divisions when you're trying to reach so many different bodies so many moving parts it's sometimes nice when somebody is constantly on a constant beat and checking in on certain files and also just staying in touch. Most of the information that we were getting was coming out of manitoba because that's where most of the press conference were happening. It's where the search was was is going on and where they believe that the boys were located. How do you think we'll remember this story. In the the weeks and months and years later i think that a a lot of it will come down to that. The question of why that we won't have a lot of those answers that we really crave and that i think that a lot of the the people involved here especially the family members of the victims won't get that closure that that they want or the justice that they deserve when it comes to a case like this the rumor mills will all have their their hi policies especially on what could have led the young men to northern manitoba to potentially killing these individuals goals if they actually did this and if so just why you don't see cases like this a lot most of the time were able to or at least police are able to piece together and understanding of why these things happen and i think that that is the big question that has not been answered. We have a lot of the other questions as journalists that we ask things like the <hes> the how for many of the suspects are for the victims how they passed the when the wears but that big question that i think a lot of people will keep asking why thanks lisa. Thanks for having me. Lachapelle is a reporter with news eleven thirty. That was the big story for more on you can do the big story podcast dot c._a. You can find and all of our other stories. They're more than two hundred fifty of them now. You can also talk to us on twitter at the big story f. p. n. And of course you can find us wherever you get your podcast on apple on google on stitcher or on spotify. Shoot us a rating and review if you wanna be really nice. Claire is the producer of the big story. Stephanie phillips and ryan clark our our associate producers and lisa. Nielsen is our digital editor. I'm jordan rawlings. Thanks for listening have a great weekend. We'll talk monday.

Coming up next