|Gale Weys, 19, is one of 18 young women in the Highway of Tears case. She disappeared Oct. 19 1971 and her body was found April 6, 1972, south of Clearwater. (RCMP)
VANCOUVER - RCMP scientists will continue to resubmit DNA to Interpol after announcing this week the process confirmed a dead U.S. convict killed at least one of the 18 victims on B.C.'s so-called Highway of Tears, an investigator said Thursday.
Staff Sgt. Wayne Clary said samples of genetic material submitted to the international law enforcement agency have to meet “standards,” which could mean having to isolate the suspect’s DNA from other contaminants, including blood from the victim.
That was the case in victim Colleen MacMillen’s murder: her blood was mixed with that of her presumed killer, Bobby Jack Fowler. (Fowler’s guilt is not proven in a court of law because of his passing in 2006 in an Oregon prison.)
A previous attempt five years ago to separate Fowler’s blood was unsuccessful, but new technology made it possible this year. That meant the isolated Fowler DNA was now acceptable for comparison with international police records.
“We’re very cognizant of advances in DNA and we would resubmit when we can,” Clary told QMI Agency. “In particular, when there are older cases that have already gone through (our system) once.”
The investigator said police have also traced four additional British Columbian male suspects -- two living and two dead -- related to the missing and murdered women.
One of the suspects continues to be sought in connection to Maureen Mosie’s death. The 33-year-old was last seen alive in Salmon Arm on May 8, 1981. The next day, her remains were located 100 kilometres west, near Kamloops.
Mounties still seek witnesses who saw a two-door compact car with an Alberta plate driven by a man with a dark beard.
“We think whoever drove that car killed Maureen Mosie.”
Though no names were released, Clary said the two dead suspects — linked to two separate killings — perished before the Highway of Tears task force launched in 2005.
“It’s bittersweet,” Clary said. “In our job, we don’t get to spread a lot of good news. There’s that ‘closure’ word. I’m not comfortable with it, but that seems to be the term when we can tell the families we’ve been successful.”
At least 18 young women vanished or were killed along Highways 5, 16, and 97 in British Columbia from 1969 to 2006.