The Highway of Tears earned its name after a string of unsolved murders and disappearances occurred between 1969 and 2011 in Canada.
The name “The Highway of Tears” was given to the 720 km section of Highway 16, between Prince George and Prince Rupert, in British Columbia, Canada. The horror started in 1969 when Gloria Moody, 26, was murdered. Her body was found at a cattle ranch, 10 km away from a Williams Lake bar, where she was last seen. Her death was the start of a decades long phenomena which to this day remains unsolved.
The Highway of Tears has been the final resting place of nineteen victims, according to police reports, but local aboriginal organizations report that the number is over forty, largely because they include disappearances and murders from a greater distance from the infamous highway.
The highway itself is in a region which is plagued with poverty and lack of public transportation, thus forcing its occupants to turn to hitchhiking as a form of transportation. The victims are typically young girls in their late teens. Some wind up dead, others just disappear without a trace.
It is possible that there were multiple attackers, but with very little evidence to go on, there’s a good chance some, if not most of the cases will go unsolved. However, in 2009, police swarmed in on a property in the Isle Pierre area of rural Prince George to search for the remains of one of the victims, Nicole Hoar, a young tree planter who went missing on The Highway of Tears on June 21, 2002. The property was previously owned by Leland Switzer, a man who is currently serving a prison sentence for the murder of his brother.
The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) also searched the property for the other missing women, but unfortunately they found nothing. On September 25th, 2012, the police announced they had discovered a link between the Highway of Tears murders and Bobby Jack Fowler, a deceased American criminal. His DNA was found on the body of Colleen MacMillen, a 16-year-old victim of the Highway of Tears murders from 1974.
Investigators compiled a DNA profile of Fowler in 2007, but the technology that was available at the time was limited and could not produce a strong enough sample. However, new technologies allowed investigators to re-examine the DNA in 2012, which led to the identification. Fowler is also strongly suspected of the murders of both Gale Weys and Pamela Darlington in 1973. The RCMP believe that he may also have killed as many as ten of the other victims from the Highway of Tears.
Despite identifying Fowler to be the killer in these cases, police are doubtful they will solve all of the murders. They have persons of interest in several of the cases, but still not enough evidence to charge any of the other suspects at this point in time.
The first book to be published on the murders is Obstruction of Justice: The search for truth on Canada’s Highway of Tears and is available from Amazon.com. The book is released on October 15th, 2016.