An Oregon inmate who died in 2006 has been confirmed as the killer of a 16-year-old B.C. hitchhiker, and may be responsible for as many as nine other slayings and disappearances along B.C.’s so-called Highway of Tears.

Colleen MacMillen was last seen in August 1974 when she left her Lac La Hache home, south of Prince George, to hitchhike on Highway 97 to a friend’s house nearby. Her body was found off a logging road. Investigators have not revealed the teen's cause of death.

MacMillen's death is one of 18 cases involving women who were killed or disappeared along remote highways in northern and central B.C. between 1969 and 2005. A special RCMP task force has been reviewing the cases, witnesses and evidence including taking advantage of more sophisticated DNA technology.

On Tuesday, RCMP confirmed that DNA evidence has linked MacMillen’s death to Bobby Jack Fowler, a violent criminal who died in an Oregon jail of natural causes in May 2006 at the age of 66.

"We are comforted by the fact that he was in prison when he died and that he can’t ever hurt anyone else," said Shawn MacMillen, Colleen MacMillen's brother, in a short statement on Tuesday. "Colleen was a lovely, sweet, innocent 16-year-old kid, and there are still not words in the world to express how terribly she was wronged."

"For those remaining families whose daughters and sisters were also victims, we hope this means they may yet have their own answers."

At one time, Fowler worked for Happy’s Roofing in Prince George. Investigators are looking for people who may have worked or socialized with him in B.C. between the '70s and the '90s. They released photos and video of him through the years in the hope of jogging people’s memories.

Story continues after slideshow:

Loading Slideshow...
  • 1972

    RCMP hope photos of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/25/bobby-jack-fowler-highway-of-tears-killer-bc_n_1913693.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">killer Bobby Jack Fowler</a> will help jog people's memories in helping them track his movements in B.C. from the '70s to the '90s.

  • 1982

    RCMP hope photos of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/25/bobby-jack-fowler-highway-of-tears-killer-bc_n_1913693.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">killer Bobby Jack Fowler</a> will help jog people's memories in helping them track his movements in B.C. from the '70s to the '90s.

  • 1989

    RCMP hope photos of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/25/bobby-jack-fowler-highway-of-tears-killer-bc_n_1913693.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">killer Bobby Jack Fowler</a> will help jog people's memories in helping them track his movements in B.C. from the '70s to the '90s.

  • 1994

    RCMP hope photos of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/25/bobby-jack-fowler-highway-of-tears-killer-bc_n_1913693.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">killer Bobby Jack Fowler</a> will help jog people's memories in helping them track his movements in B.C. from the '70s to the '90s.

  • 1995

    RCMP hope photos of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/25/bobby-jack-fowler-highway-of-tears-killer-bc_n_1913693.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">killer Bobby Jack Fowler</a> will help jog people's memories in helping them track his movements in B.C. from the '70s to the '90s.

  • Date unknown

    RCMP hope photos of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/25/bobby-jack-fowler-highway-of-tears-killer-bc_n_1913693.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">killer Bobby Jack Fowler</a> will help jog people's memories in helping them track his movements in B.C. from the '70s to the '90s.

  • <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/25/bobby-jack-fowler-highway-of-tears-killer-bc_n_1913693.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">Killer Bobby Jack Fowler</a> drove old cars, possibly similar to one in this image, said RCMP.



Fowler is an “incredibly strong suspect” in the slayings of Pamela Darlington in 1973 and Gale Weys in 1974, but there have been no DNA matches, said RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens. The convict is also a person of interest in seven other remaining Highway of Tears cases, he said.

It’s also possible that Fowler committed other violent assaults that have not been reported to police, said RCMP.

COULD BE CHARMING

An alcoholic and a speed and meth addict, Fowler had a violent personality that could change abruptly, including turning on the charm when necessary, revealed Callens.

Fowler believed that women who hitchhiked and frequented bars had a desire to be sexually assaulted, said Callens.

Fowler has no criminal history in Canada, but an extensive record in several U.S. states including convictions for attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, sexual assault, arson and kidnapping.

RCMP don’t believe a single serial killer is responsible for all of the Highway of Tears cases. During a media briefing, Staff Sgt. Wayne Clary said investigators have three or four strong suspects after identifying 1,413 persons of interest, reported CBC News.

The Highway of Tears originally referred to cases along a 700-kilometre stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, but the RCMP Project E-PANA probe also includes cases on Highways 5 and 97 in the B.C. Interior.

While the Project E-PANA is officially looking into 18 cases, other groups say as many as 43 women have been missing or killed along those highways.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Colleen MacMillen

    Age: 16 Last Seen: Aug. 9, 1974 near Lac La Hache. Body found Sept. 5, 1974 near 100 Mile House. Was believed to be hitchhiking. RCMP have determined through DNA testing that Bobby Jack Fowler was responsible for her death.

  • Gale Ann Weys

    Age: 19 Last Seen: Oct. 19, 1973 in Clearwater. Body found April 6, 1974 along Yellowhead Highway. Believed hitchhiking to Kamloops.

  • Pamela Darlington

    Age: 19 Last Seen: Nov. 6, 1973 in Kamloops. Body found Nov. 7, 1973 in a city park. Believed to be hitchhiking at the time.

  • Delphine Nikkal

    Age: 16 Last Seen: June 14, 1990, along Highway 16 in Smithers.

  • Lana Derrick

    Age: 19 Last Seen: October 7, 1995 at a service station in Thornhill, B.C.

  • Nicole Hoar

    Age: 25 Last Seen: June 21, 2002 in Prince George. Believed to be hitchhiking on Highway 16.

  • Tamara Chipman

    Age: 22 Last Seen: Sept. 21, 2005 in Prince Rupert. Believed to be hitchhiking on Highway 16.

  • Alberta Williams

    Age: 24 Last Seen: Aug. 26, 1989 in Prince Rupert. Body found Sept. 16, 1989 on Highway 16.

  • Ramona Wilson

    Age: 16 Last Seen: June 11, 1994, hitchhiking to a friend's home in Smithers. Body found April 1995, Smithers Airport.

  • Roxanne Thiara

    Age: 15 Last Seen: Nov. 1994 in Prince George. Body found near Burns Lake.

  • Leah Alisha Germaine

    Age: 15 Her body was found Dec. 9, 1994.

  • Cecilia Anne Nikal

    Last Seen: 1989

  • Monica Ignas

    Age: 14 Last Seen: Dec. 13, 1974 in Thornhill, B.C. Body found Apr. 6, 1975 near Terrace.

  • Aielah Saric Auger

    Age: 14 Last Seen: Feb. 2, 2006 in Prince George. Body found Feb. 10, 2006 on Highway 16.

  • Gloria Moody

    Age: 27 Last Seen: Oct. 25, 1969 in Williams Lake. Body found Oct. 26 1969.

  • Micheline Pare

    Age: 18 Last Seen: July 1970 along Fort St. John/Hudson's Hope Highway. Body found Aug. 8, 1970 near Hudson's Hope. Last seen hitchhiking to a ranch.

  • Shelly Ann Bascu

    Age: 16 Last Seen: May 3, 1983 near Hinton, Alberta. Seen walking along Highway 16.

  • Monica Jack

    Age: 12 Last Seen: May 6, 1978 near Nicola Lake. Body found in June 1995 north of Merritt.

  • Maureen Mosie

    Age: 33 Last Seen: May 8, 1981 in Salmon Arm. Body found May 9, 1981 near Kamloops. Believed to have been hitchhiking.





Also on HuffPost: