Thursday July 31, 2014





Mystery still surrounds teen's death

Police retracing steps of 16-year-old girl's final 12 hours

CJ Fowler

While the death of 16-year-old CJ Fowler remains shrouded in mystery, the Kamloops RCMP doesn't believe the public needs to fear a killer at large.

Police here confirmed Friday that CJ — whose full name was Summer Star Elizabeth Krista-Lee Fowler — was from the Gitxsan village of Gitanmaax in northwestern B.C.

Her body was found by a passer-by in a ravine near Guerin Creek in lower Sahali Wednesday. Investigators with the major crime unit continue to probe the teenager's movements in the hours before her body was discovered around 11:30 a.m. Police have confirmed her death is a homicide but did not say how she died.

"What was she doing here? They're canvassing people going back 12 hours, the critical period they feel they need information on," said Const. Bernie Ward. "Hopefully this will give us a track and an association."

Police would issue a warning if they felt there was a risk to others in the community, Ward said.

The teenager had been in Kamloops for an undisclosed period of time, police said. However, the circumstances surrounding her presence here remain unclear.

Marlene Fowler, a cousin of the girl's mother, said CJ was in Kamloops due to a health complaint, adding to the mystery surrounding the girl's death.

"From what I understand, she was complaining of chest pains and they transferred her down to Kamloops. Her grandfather left here yesterday and went to Kamloops to meet with (Matilda, her mom). I really don't know what happened."

Gitanmaax, with a population of about 700 people, is near Hazelton and the confluence of the Skeena and Bulkley rivers.

Jeannie Campbell, secretary with the nearby Gitwangak Indian Band, said the Fowler family is a large clan in the area.

"When something like this happens, everyone gets together," Campbell said. A community bingo benefit was held Thursday in support of the family.

There was a missing person report filed with RCMP but the case wasn't reported through the Terrace detachment as earlier accounts indicated.

Ken Salter, a street outreach worker with Ask Wellness in Kamloops, was checking his agency's files on Friday to see if there was any record of the girl.

"I haven't heard anything," he said. "I have an idea I may have met her, but I'm not really sure."

The girl was a student at Parkside secondary, an alternative school in the Coast Mountains School District.

Radio station CFNR in Terrace received song requests on Friday in sympathy for the Fowler family. Bill Fee, a news reporter with the station, said rumours had been floating around for a couple of days about the girl.

"It sounds like there was some ministry involvement with her but they had a lot of high hopes for her; she showed promise," Fee said.

While several missing teen reports were filed in the Terrace area in recent months, CJ Fowler was not among them. Kids from that part of the province aren't known to head to the Thompson-Nicola region when they leave home, Ward said.

"Kamloops isn't on the beaten path for a gateway to the north," Ward said, adding kids from the northwest are more inclined to gravitate to Prince George or the Lower Mainland.

While the homicide has raised concerns in the city, particularly with students, no extraordinary security measures were taken at TRU or nearby schools.

Karl deBruijn, assistant superintendent of the Kamloops-Thompson School District, said circumstances would have been different had the victim been a local resident.

"If it had been a local student, we would have sent out in advance a critical response team made up of school psychologists, counsellors and other staff," deBruijn said. "We try to anticipate if significant events affects schools."

Any students who may be emotionally affected by the murder should seek support from a school counsellor.

"We hope students have a good enough relationship with a counsellor or that they let someone in their life know."

Police are still asking anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the Guerin Creek area between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning to contact Kamloops RCMP or Crime Stoppers.


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