Memorial announced for young Charlotte woman killed amid Canada trip with boyfriend

Chynna Deese and her boyfriend Lucas Fowler on one of their many road trips. The couple died two weeks ago in Canada.
Chynna Deese and her boyfriend Lucas Fowler on one of their many road trips. The couple died two weeks ago in Canada. Deese family photo

A memorial is set Saturday for Chynna Deese, the young woman from Charlotte, North Carolina, whose killing prompted an ongoing manhunt in Canada for two “extremely dangerous” teens.

She and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, were found dead last week along a highway in a remote part of British Columbia in western Canada, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The family has invited friends and relatives to to attend the memorial, which starts 2 p.m. at New City Church, 2500 Carmel Road, according to a release on Legacy.com. Details of her funeral have not been released. Media coverage is not being allowed, the family says.

Deese graduated from Myers Park High in 2013 and Appalachian State University in 2017. She lived and worked in Charlotte, but traveled extensively to Europe, Asia and South America, her family told the Charlotte Observer.

She and Fowler had been dating since 2017, when they met at a hostel in Croatia where Deese was working temporarily while she traveled after college, her family said.

Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are suspects in the couple’s deaths, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The killings of Deese and Fowler -- along with a man named Leonard Dyck -- are central to a highly publicized manhunt for the two teens that has put residents of western Canada on edge.

Mounties said in a July 24 tweet that they have gotten more than 80 tips during the manhunt. On Friday, the department also acknowledged that wild rumors are causing unnecessary panic.

“Our officers are working diligently to find these suspects and we will release updates as soon as we have concrete, confirmed information to share,” said the department in a tweet. ”We understand many people are experiencing fear & uncertainty over this incident but spreading online rumors doesn’t help.”

Investigators believe Deese and Fowler died between 4 p.m. Sunday, July 14, and 8 a.m. Monday, July 15. Their bodies were found along the Alaska Highway, 12 miles south of Liard Hot Springs, a park in British Columbia, a press release said.

The killings have gotten international attention, in part because Fowler is the son of a chief inspector with the New South Wales Police in Australia, according to ABC.net. Fowler had recently gotten a job on a ranch in Canada, according to the Deese family.

Alan Schmegelsky told CTV News Vancouver on Wednesday that his son, suspect Bryer Schmegelsky, “had a troubled upbringing” and will likely choose to die before being taken into custody.

“He’s on a suicide mission,” Alan Schmegelsky told CTV News. “They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory. Trust me on this.”

Investigators have not released a motive in the three deaths, or how McLeod and Schmegelsky became the chief suspects. The two came to the attention of police on July 19 when a pickup truck they used was found on fire in northern British Columbia. The body of 64-year-old Leonard Dyke was found about a mile away, police said.

Investigators “consider them to be armed and dangerous,” according to a release. “The two may being using a different vehicle, on foot or even traveling separately. If they are spotted, do not approach, call 9-1-1 or your local police immediately,” officials said.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.