Highway Of Tears Featured On CBS '48 Hours'

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Shawn MacMillen, brother of murder victim Colleen MacMillen, attends an RCMP news conference in September 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)
Shawn MacMillen, brother of murder victim Colleen MacMillen, attends an RCMP news conference in September 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

The RCMP cracked the Highway of Tears cases of missing and murdered women in B.C. because they carefully preserved a DNA sample in the ‘70s – without knowing how important DNA testing would become in later decades, reveals U.S. TV show, "48 Hours."

In an episode to be aired on Saturday, the award-winning investigative series focuses on the 18 women who have been killed or disappeared along highways in northern and central B.C. since 1969.

CBS News producer Paul LaRosa said the TV crew tried to bring across the dichotomy between the beautiful landscape and the pain suffered by the victims’ families, CBC News reported.

The "48 Hours" documentary was granted unprecedented access to the investigation by the RCMP and a special task force that was created in 2005 to go over the cases that stretched over four decades.

Story continues after gallery:

Highway Of Tears - Missing And Murdered Women
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Key to their case was DNA found on Colleen MacMillen’s blouse when her body was found dumped off a logging road in 1974.

This year, forensic investigators were able to enhance that DNA sample and send it to Interpol – which came back with a positive match from a U.S. database.

In September, the RCMP announced that the sample belonged to a transient roofer named Bobby Jack Fowler, with a violent history of sexual attacks in the U.S. They announced that in addition to MacMillen’s death, Fowler likely also killed Pamela Darlington and Gale Weys. Both of the 19-year-olds were found dead in 1973.

"48 Hours," which is in its 25th year, reports that with this fresh information, police in Oregon are currently looking at Fowler as a suspect in seven murders in the U.S.

The show says police believe Fowler may have killed as many as 20 people in the U.S. and Canada. Fowler died in an Oregon jail of natural causes in May 2006 at the age of 66.

The documentary airs on CBS Saturday at 10 p.m. PT.

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