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22 Aug 2019 17:48
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  •   Home > News > International

    Chynna Deese's mother appeals for information about murder of her daughter and Lucas Fowler

    Last week, Sheila Deese's biggest fear was that her daughter Chynna might move to Australia with her boyfriend Lucas Fowler. Today, she is appealing for their killers to come forward.

    On the calendar near the kitchen in Sheila Deese's home, two heartbreaking words are written under July 31: "Chynna returns." Now she never will.

    "I don't have any anger yet. And I'm afraid of it," Ms Deese told the ABC.

    "Chynna is not supposed to be home and it's OK that she's not home yet. I don't know what I'm going to do on July 31st."

    Sheila's home is filled with sunflowers, her daughter's favourite flower.

    "Chynna was a sunflower. Strong and tall and beautiful. She was such a giver. She would give away clothes. She volunteered at a camp for special needs kids," she said.

    "She was just a beautiful person. She never met a stranger. She was lovely."

    The ABC was interviewing Sheila and her son British, when word came through that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police named two teens as suspects in the killing of Chynna and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler.

    It was deeply shocking.

    Until then, Sheila's warm maternal instincts extended to the two young men, Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, who were thought to be missing.

    They were spotted in Northern Saskatchewan, nearly a 20-hour drive from where the couple were found.

    Police could not say exactly when they were last seen, but were able to confirm the sighting on Tuesday.

    The two teens are thought to be linked to the death of another, unidentified man.

    "If you see them, do not approach, take no action and immediately call [the police]," said Sergeant Janelle Shoihet, adding the teens may have changed their appearances or found a new car to drive.

    Sheila and British are hoping Chynna and Lucas will get justice.

    "I need for anyone with information to share that, because this can't happen to another family. It shouldn't have happened to ours," Sheila said.

    'We should be planning a wedding'

    For now, Sheila is focused on planning a wonderful celebration of her youngest daughter's life.

    "I knew they were so in love and the next step was we should be planning a wedding instead of a life celebration. I knew they were going to be forever," she said, fighting back tears.

    Sheila said she first met Lucas over the phone.

    Chynna was staying at a hostel in Croatia and mentioned she had met a few Australian men.

    "She called me one day [and said] the Aussie boys want to hear you speak," Sheila recalled.

    When she replied with a classic North Carolina "hey y'all," she could hear Lucas erupting with laughter in the background.

    Chynna and Lucas's relationship developed, and Sheila finally met the young man in person over the Christmas holidays.

    "He just fit right in. He did traditions with us. He cooked with us," she said.

    "He helped me paint my entire house," British added.

    "We felt like he was part of the family pretty early on. He had both grandparents' approvals if that tells you anything. He went to Christmas on both sides of the family, and everyone just loved him," he said.

    Sheila knew he was a keeper when he sent her daughter a box of her favourite cheesecake cookies for Valentine's Day.

    Secretly, she began fretting that the couple might decide to move to Australia together. It seemed too far and foreign for her to visit.

    "I'm not an experienced traveller as they were," she said.

    "But today I would love to have that option."

    Travel fuelled the couple's love

    Travel was the couple's life passion, the lens through which they discovered themselves and their love for each other.

    "If their life purpose was to travel the world, they were doing an amazing job by age 24," British said.

    The two self-funded all their adventures, including 13 different countries for Chynna.

    She studied abroad in Europe and worked her keep on a grape farm. Lucas served as a Canadian cattle hand just prior to his death.

    Chynna was industrious and enthusiastic. Sheila was proud to recognise her daughter's signature spark in a CCTV video of the couple's last petrol stop.

    In the video, Chynna got out of the van to clean the windows before falling into Lucas's arms in a moment of unmistakable joy.

    "She's wiping the windows. That was my daughter. She doesn't just sit in the van, she's going to get out. She's not going to go in and get a soda or something. She's going to get out and clean the windows," Sheila said.

    "I watched that video over and over last night. Over and over. And I kept seeing new things, and watching that embrace that they had. I could hear them saying, 'Let's do this! Here we go!'"

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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