The Highway of Tears

The Highway of Tears

Shylo Sheppard, News writer

When we think of serial killers and mass murderers, our minds tend to automatically think of the United States. People never associate such cruel and inhuman crimes with innocent Canada. Well, these people have obviously never heard of BC’s very own Highway of Tears.

The dubbed “Highway of Tears” is a section of Highway 16 stretching between Prince George and Prince Rupert, BC, home to a series of unsolved murders and disappearances of young women. Between 1969 and 2011, police estimate there has been approximately 19 victims, but aboriginals claim the number ranges into the 40s. All casualties have been female and in their teenage years, with over half being of aboriginal descent; most likely hitchhiking as a result of the lack of public transportation in the area. Due to the numerous municipalities and first nation communities bordering the forested highway, aboriginals have become accustomed to stumbling across unlucky victims further into the bush.

In 2005, the RCMP launched project E-PANA, focusing on the unsolved murders and disappearances of Highway 16 throughout the past 37 years. Officials sought to discover whether this was the work of one serial killer or many murderers who happened to have the same taste in “dumping grounds”. There are hundreds of deserted side roads along the highway, creating an ideal area for body disposal. By 2006 the task force was investigating nine of the felonies, but by 2007 the case load had doubled to eighteen. After another missing person arose in 2009, police began converging on properties near the highway; to their disappointment, nothing was ever found.

But, due to new technological advancements, researches were given the ability to work with three pieces of smaller DNA samples found on the girls bodies. On September 25, 2012, the RCMP announced a link between the three of the murders and deceased, U.S serial killer Bobby Fowler. Forensics originally found Fowlers DNA on victim, Colleen MacMillan’s body, leading them to test the rest of the bodies. Police suspect he may have killed an additional ten, during his “business trips” to BC, but no evidence has been retrieved.

To this day, there are still 17 cases that remain unsolved and investigators are doubtful they ever will solve them. There are several persons of interest, but not enough evidence was ever produced to lay charges against them. Though the last disappearance on the freeway was of twenty year old Madison Scott in 2011, I don’t anticipate this is the last we’ll here of the “Highway of Tears”.