‘Brutal’ injuries force closed casket
Lucas Fowler was the adventurous son of one of NSW's most senior police officers.
Chynna Deese was the beautiful North Carolina college graduate.
The families of the two young travellers are now in grief after their bodies were found on Monday in the far north of Canada's British Columbia region.
Authorities believe they were murdered after their van broke down on the Alaska Highway, 20km south of Liard Hot Springs
The injuries inflicted were so "brutal", Ms Deese's heartbroken brother, British Deese, said the family was told an open casket would not be allowed at her funeral.
Mr Fowler's father Stephen, the chief inspector for Sydney's northwest Hills district, and other family members have embarked on the long flight to Canada "to be with our boy and to bring him home".
"To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was travelling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating," the Fowlers said in a statement.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are leading the hunt for the killer.
NSW Police have sent two homicide detectives to Canada to assist the investigation, liaise and support family members.
The pair met at a hostel in Croatia two years ago, fell in love and on their latest globetrotting escapade packed up an old blue van and set off for a road trip across Canada.
Their bodies were found in a secluded area almost 1900km, or 21 hours' drive, north of Vancouver.
It's known for the largest natural hot springs in Canada, in a region subject to subzero temperatures.
"Maybe the van over heated or broke down," Mr Deese told the Charlotte Observer newspaper.
"Something happened on that road, some sort of conflict."
About midday today Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones spoke of the Australian involvement in the case.
He said it was too early to tell exactly how the couple died.
"But our understanding is that they were with a vehicle in the northern part of British Columbia, and it appears they may have been shot in that location," he told reporters.
It appears robbery may have been the motive with the couple's identification missing.
Mr Deese said investigators eventually found his sister's passport hidden in the van.
One of the last people to speak to Mr Fowler and Ms Deese appears to be Sandra and Curtis Broughton, a Canadian couple who said they were driving past, saw the broken down blue van and stopped to help.
Mr Broughton was a mechanic.
"This makes my heart so sad," Ms Broughton wrote on Facebook.
"I can't believe that this young couple are dead now."
Some media reports raise the prospect of a serial killer linked to the Highway of Tears murders, but the freeway where more than 40 people have been murdered or went missing is located 1,000km south of where Mr Fowler and Mr Deese were killed.
"I don't think it's a serial killer," Ms Deese's father, Dwayne, told the Observer.
"I think of someone who has been convicted of violent crimes before, someone on drugs.
"What worries us is that person is still on the loose and they have a head start.
"This is going to happen again.
"There needs to be some kind of a warning system in place for tourists."
The RCMP released photos of Mr Fowler and Ms Deese on Friday and issued a request for witnesses and video from motorists who may have had dash cameras.
"Police would like to speak to anyone that may have travelled this stretch of highway between Sunday, July 14, 2019 at 4.00pm and Monday, July 15, 2019 at 8.00am," the RCMP said in a release.
"Police would especially like to speak with anyone who may have a dashcam video while travelling that area."
Assistant Commissioner Jones said Mr Fowler's mum and dad and some of his siblings have travelled to Canada in what will be a "very sad occasion".
He said it was a distressing time for Mr Fowler's high-ranking father.
"Any family member who has been through this will tell you how gut-wrenching it is and the devastation caused for the family, it has been made all the more sad for Stephen and his family because he is a police officer," he told reporters today.