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Bobby Jack FOWLER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rapist
Number of victims: 1 - 20 +
Date of murders: 1973 - 1995
Date of arrest: June 28, 1995
Date of birth: June 12, 1939
Victims profile: Colleen MacMillen, 16
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Oregon, USA / British Columbia, Canada
Status: Sentenced to 16 years in prison on January 8, 1996. Died in prison on May 15, 2006
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bobby Jack Fowler (June 12, 1939 May 15, 2006) was an American and a native of Texas serial killer and rapist active in the United States and Canada. He died in prison of lung cancer during a 16-year sentence following a conviction for rape, kidnapping and attempted rape in Newport, Oregon, in 1996 (for an attack that took place in 1995).

Fowler was a transient construction worker who is known to have travelled extensively across North America. He spent time "rabbiting around" North America to such places as British Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon, South Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee and Washington State.

During his travels he developed an extensive criminal record and is known to have committed several violent crimes. An alcoholic, amphetamine and methamphetamine user Fowler's criminal record ranged from attempted murder and sexual assault to firearms offenses.

In 1969 he was charged with murdering a man and woman in Texas but was only convicted of discharging a firearm within city limits. Fowler also spent time in a Tennessee prison for sexual assault and attempted murder because, in the words of an investigator, "he tied [a woman] up, beat the hell out of her with her own belt, covered her with brush and left her to die."

He liked to travel far and wide in beat up old cars, frequently picked up hitchhikers and spent time in bars and motels. Fowler believed that women he came into contact with hitchhiking and in bars wanted to be sexually assaulted.

Suspected victims

Fowler is a suspect or person of interest in at least 16 murders in British Columbia and Oregon dating as far back as 1969.

Highway of Tears

Fowler is a suspect in the Highway of Tears murders. His DNA was found on the body of Colleen MacMillen, one of the presumed victims. Fowler is also strongly suspected to have killed both Gale Weys and Pamela Darlington in 1973. The RCMP believe that he may have also killed as many as ten of the other victims, and possibly as many as 20.

Potential Canadian victims include mostly First Nation girls reported missing from Highway 16, a 724 km roadway dubbed the 'Highway of Tears' due to the high number of murders and disappearances of young women beginning in the 1970s; however, three of these murders occurred after Fowler's imprisonment in 1996.

Other murders

May 3, 1992, just after midnight, around 1:00 a.m. Sheila Swanson, 19 and Melissa Sanders, 17 were last seen making a call from a payphone near the Beverly Beach State Park where they had been camping. Their bodies were later discovered on October 10, 1992, by hunters in a wooded area near Eddyville, Oregon.

January 28, 1995 just after midnight, around 1:00 a.m. Jennifer Esson, 16 and Kara Leas, 16 are last seen walking on NW 56th Street in Newport, Oregon walking toward Highway 101 near Moolack Beach after leaving a friends house. Their strangled bodies were later discovered on February 15, 1995, by loggers in a wooded area, covered up with brush.

Arrest and investigation

On June 28, 1995, Fowler was arrested following an incident which involved a woman jumping out of a Tides Inn motel in Newport, Oregon motel window with a still rope tied to her ankle. She survived the attack and reported her harrowing tale to the local police.

On January 8, 1996, Fowler was convicted of Kidnapping in the 1st Degree, Attempted Rape in the 1st Degree, Sexual Abuse in the 1st Degree, Coercion, Assault in the Fourth Degree, and Menacing. He was sentenced to 195 months (16 years, 3 months) with the possibility of parole.

On 25 September 2012 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Lincoln County District Attorney Rob Bovett named Bobby Jack Fowler as a suspect in three of the Highway of Tears murders. His DNA was found on the body of Colleen MacMillen, one of the presumed victims.

Death

In May 2006, Fowler died at the age of 66 in Oregon State Penitentiary from lung cancer.

Wikipedia.org
 



Bobby Jack Fowler, Suspect In 'Highway Of Tears' Killings, Linked To Colleen MacMillen's Murder

By Jeremy Hainsworth - HuffingtonPost.com

September 25, 2012

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Canadian police have linked a dead U.S. convict to the killing of a teenage girl nearly 40 years ago, one of 18 young women who were killed or vanished along three highways in British Columbia over several decades. Oregon authorities are also investigating the man for possible links to four murders in the U.S. state.

DNA tests linked Bobby Jack Fowler to the 1974 killing of 16-year-old Colleen MacMillen, who was last seen leaving home to hitchhike to a friend's house, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Insp. Gary Shinkaruk. Her body was found on a logging road. Police called it the oldest DNA match in Interpol's history.

Fowler, who died in prison in 2006, is a strong suspect in two of the other Canadian cases and a person of interest in seven others, but has been eliminated as a suspect in the remaining eight, Shinkaruk said.

Fowler was convicted in 1996 of kidnapping, assault, and the attempted rape of a woman he met at a bar in Oregon. He died of lung cancer at 66 while serving a 16-year sentence. A transient laborer with a long criminal record in the U.S., Fowler had worked in Prince George, British Columbia in the 1970s. Police are seeking the public's help in finding out more about Fowler's time in Canada, where he did not have a criminal record.

Canadian police announced in 2007 they were conducting an extensive review into 13 deaths and five disappearances connected to three highways in British Columbia. The cases date from 1960 to 2006 and involve hitchhiking women who were last seen within a mile (less than a kilometer) of the three highways. One of those highways has become known as the "Highway of Tears." It runs about 450 miles (722 kilometers) between Prince George and Prince Rupert in British Columbia.

MacMillen's brother, Shawn, described her as sweet and innocent and said he still had no words to express how terribly she was wronged. He thanked investigators.

"We are simply stunned and very grateful for their hard work," MacMillen said. "It has been a long wait for answers, and although it is a somewhat unsatisfactory result because this individual won't have to stand trial for what he did, we are comforted by the fact that he was in prison when he died and he can't hurt anyone else."

Shinkaruk said Fowler remains a strong suspect in the killings of Gale Weys and Pamela Darlington, both 19. Weys was last seen hitchhiking from Clearwater, British Columbia on Oct. 16, 1973 and was found dead six months later. Darlington was killed and found in a Kamloops, British Columbia park on Nov. 7, 1973. They have not ruled out Fowler in other murders.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Wayne Clary said they believe no single killer is responsible for all the Canadian cases. Police said they have very strong persons of interest in a few other cases, but are not yet able to bring evidence forward.

Rob Bovett, the district attorney in Lincoln County, Oregon, said Fowler is a person of interest in four unsolved killings of teenage girls there in the 1980s and 1990s.

Two of the girls, Jennifer Esson and Kara Leas, both 16, were last seen walking on a street in the coastal city of Newport, Oregon, in 1995. Their bodies were found almost three weeks later in a wooded area north of town.

"He's a suspect in our 1995 case. I haven't linked him he's a suspect," Bovett said. "What makes him a suspect is his history, his M.O. and his location."

Investigators are working on getting new DNA analysis for the double homicide, Bovett said. He also encouraged anyone with information on the case to come forward.

He said Fowler is a "person of interest" in the 1992 deaths of Sheila Swanson, 19, and Melissa Sanders, 17. They disappeared in May 1992 and their badly decomposed bodies were discovered five months later in a wooded area near Eddyville.

Bovett said investigators may not be able to get DNA evidence in that case.

Fowler was arrested in June 1995, five months after Esson and Leas went missing. He was convicted of the kidnapping and attempted rape of a woman who he met at a bar and took to a Newport motel. She escaped by jumping naked and with a rope tied around her ankle from a second-story window.

Canadian police said Fowler used drugs such as speed and was often violent.

"He was of the belief that a lot of the women he came in contact with, specifically women who hitchhiked and women who went to taverns and drank, had a desire to be sexually assaulted," Shinkaruk said.

Associated Press Writer Steven DuBois in Portland, Oregon contributed to this report.
 



Bobby Jack Fowler

 

 

 
 
 
 
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