A man convicted of sexual abuse who died in prison has been named the suspect in murder cold cases on the Oregon coast.
The Lincoln County District Attorney's Office and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Tuesday they believe Bobby Jack Fowler committed a number of unsolved homicides over three decades.
Fowler was arrested in 1995 in Newport after investigators said a woman escaped an attempted rape at a motel by jumping out of a second-story window.
He was convicted of charges including kidnapping, attempted rape, sexual abuse and assault and sentenced to 16 years behind bars.
He died in a local prison in 2006 at the age of 66 from lung cancer.
In 2009, Lincoln County District Attorney Rob Bovett reopened five homicide cases from 1984, 1992 and 1995. All the victims were teenage girls.
Earlier this year, investigators began working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police regarding similar cases in Canada.
On Tuesday, Fowler was named as a suspect for killings in both countries between the 1970s and 1990s.
Oregon investigators said he is considered a person of interest in the killings of Sheila Swanson, 19, and Melissa Sanders, 17, in 1992. They were last seen in May that year near Beverly Beach State Park. Their bodies were discovered in a wooded area near Eddyville in October 1992.
He is suspected of killing Jennifer Esson, 16, and Kara Leas, 16, in 1995. They were last seen walking on Northwest 56th Street in Newport in late January of that year. Their bodies were found in a wooded area north of Newport about three weeks later.
CTV in Canada reports investigators in that country identified Fowler as responsible for the death of a 16-year-old hitchhiker in British Columbia in 1974.
The Canadian news outlet said he was working at a roofing company in Prince George at the time. Fowler did not have a criminal record in Canada, but he is still potentially a suspect in as many as 18 other cases involving missing and murdered women in that region.
Local and Canadian investigators said DNA samples matched Fowler to the crimes.
If you know anything about the Lincoln County cases or any other unsolved homicides, call 541-265-0271.
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:54 AM EDT2013-05-18 06:54:01 GMT
An Oregon girl abducted as a baby and missing for 18 years finally emerged in Dallas this week when her mother turned herself in to authorities, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Department. More >
An Oregon girl abducted as a baby and missing for 18 years finally emerged in Dallas this week when her mother turned herself in to authorities, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Department.More >
Sunday, May 19 2013 1:02 AM EDT2013-05-19 05:02:36 GMT
Sherry Lakey said her 32-year-old son, Scott, would probably be dead if it wasn't for a group of quick thinking neighbors. "He's doing ok," she said. "Thankfully, because he has two little girls to thinkMore >
Sherry Lakey said her 32-year-old son, Scott, would probably be dead if it wasn't for a group of quick-thinking neighbors.More >
An online beauty contest created by teenage boys is causing a controversy at Newberg High School, but the school can't do much to stop it. It's called May Madness, a bracket contest that ranks high schoolMore >
A "May Madness" bracket at Newberg High School ranks high school girls on their "hotness."More >
Wednesday, May 15 2013 2:57 PM EDT2013-05-15 18:57:11 GMT
The old saying goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Perhaps, this applies to Kitchen Nightmares, as well. An Arizona bakery was featured on Friday's episode of the Gordon RamseyMore >
The old saying goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Perhaps, this applies to Kitchen Nightmares, as well.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 11:00 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:00:58 GMT
A masked man barged into a local marijuana dispensary and robbed two people at gunpoint. It happened at 10:45 a.m. Thursday morning at the Relief Medical Marijuana Facility on Southeast 122nd near Glisan.More >
An armed robber held a gun to the back of a woman's head and threatened to shoot her if he didn't get marijuana. More >
One of Alaska's most restless volcanoes has shot an ash cloud 15,000 feet into the air in an ongoing eruption that has drawn attention from a nearby community but isn't expected to threaten air traffic.More >
One of Alaska's most restless volcanoes shot an ash cloud 15,000 feet into the air Friday in an ongoing eruption that is visible for miles when the weather allows.More >