Investigators say it’s impossible to know if a break in a cold case dating back to 1974 could be related to the death of an unidentified woman whose body was found near Naramata that same year.
Bobby Jack Fowler, an American convict who died in prison 2006, was connected by DNA to 16-year-old Colleen MacMillen, who was killed along the Highway of Tears in 1974.
The RCMP Project E-PANA was formed to examine the disappearance of 18 cases of missing or murdered women along that same highway.
Staff Sgt. Wayne Clary, an investigator with RCMP Project E-PANA, is aware of the Naramata case but does not know if there is any evidence linking Fowler to the woman.
“A key to this whole thing is identifying who that person is,” said Clary. “Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet.”
According to RCMP on
The body was located in the
Police noted the body had been in the location for some time as it was in an advanced state of decomposition.
The railway employees were originally attracted to the area by the odour being emitted and it was originally thought to be a dead animal.
Examination by a pathologist revealed the body was a female in her early 20s, measuring about five feet, seven inches in height and weighing 140 – 150 pounds, with long, light-brown hair.
Original police files also stated the woman’s teeth were also in excellent condition which would indicate she was a very aware dental patient.
The victim is listed as a Jane Doe.
Missing persons reports have never revealed a match for the victim and no person has ever come forward to identify this unknown female.
Police suspect foul play in her death.
Clary said because the body was found in an isolated area about 30 kilometres from
Most of the missing women along the Highway of Tears were found in the bushes within about a kilometre of the road.
“But some effort, to me, was made to take her that far away,” he said. “Even Naramata – it’s kind of off the beaten path.”
The case is not actively being pursued by police.
Insp. Brad Haugli of Penticton RCMP said the file is well-known to its major crime unit.
“I would have no doubt that they would be taking all of those files where there’s an ability to have DNA and review all cases in British Columbia and elsewhere, comparing unknown DNA to the known DNA of this offender.”
Anyone who may have seen Fowler in the Okanagan in the early 1970s is asked to call Crime Stoppers or the tip line at 1-877-543-4822.