Four decades later DNA pinpoints deceased American criminal
The man responsible for the death of 16-year-old Colleen MacMillen, a teenager on the Highway of Tears list who was killed nearly 40 years ago, has been identified by police through a positive DNA match.
At a Sept. 25 news conference, RCMP confirmed the man who killed MacMillen was Bobby Jack Fowler, an Oregon man who died in prison in 1996. He was convicted of kidnapping, attempted rape and assault, and is linked to the deaths of two teens in that state.
MacMillen was found murdered 46 kilometres south of Lac la Hache a month after she disappeared in August 1974. She was one of 17 girls and women on the Highway of Tears list of victims who vanished from highways 16, 97 and 5 between 1969 and 2006.
Modern DNA testing methods were used when the E-PANA task force working on these unsolved deaths and disappearance for many years sent samples to Interpol.
Police also have new evidence possibly linking Fowler to other victims on the list, including the 1973 murder of Pamela Darlington in Kamloops.
MacMillen’s brother, Shawn, spoke at the news conference.
“The MacMillen family would like to thank the RCMP, and particularly the E-PANA investigators, for their success in identifying Colleen’s killer.
“We are simply stunned, and very grateful for their hard work.”
He noted it has been “a long way” to find answers, and while the individual will not have to stand trial for her death, the family is comforted by the fact Fowler died in prison, and can’t hurt anyone else.
“Colleen was a lovely, sweet, innocent 16-year-old kid, and there are still no words in the world to express how terribly she was wronged.
“To those remaining families whose daughters, sisters were also victims, we hope this means they may yet have their own answers.”
This is the oldest case to be solved by DNA in the history of Interpol.