Bobby Jack Fowler

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Bobby Jack Fowler
Bobby Jack Fowler - mugshot - 01.jpg
Fowler's booking photo in Lincoln County, Oregon, 1995
Bobby Jack Fowler

(1939-06-12)June 12, 1939
DiedMay 15, 2006(2006-05-15) (aged 66)
Cause of deathLung cancer
Criminal penalty16 years, 3 months with the possibility of parole
Victims1 confirmed, up to 20 suspected
Span of crimes
1973 or earlier–1996
CountryUnited States, Canada
State(s)Oregon, British Columbia
Date apprehended
June 28, 1995

Bobby Jack Fowler (June 12, 1939 – May 15, 2006) was an American rapist and alleged serial killer active in the United States and Canada. He died in prison of lung cancer during a 16-year sentence following a conviction for rape, kidnapping and attempted rape in Newport, Oregon, in 1996 (for an attack that took place in 1995).

Known crimes and modus operandi[edit]

Fowler was a transient construction worker who is known to have traveled extensively across North America. He spent time "rabbiting around"[1] North America to such places as British Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon, South Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee and Washington state.[2][3] During his travels he developed an extensive criminal record and is known to have committed several violent crimes. An alcohol, amphetamine, and methamphetamine abuser, Fowler had a criminal record that included attempted murder, sexual assault, and firearms offenses.[4]

In 1969, he was charged with murdering a man and woman in Texas, but was only convicted of discharging a firearm within city limits.[2][3] Fowler also spent time in a Tennessee prison for sexual assault and attempted murder because, in the words of an investigator, "he tied [a woman] up, beat the hell out of her with her own belt, covered her with brush and left her to die."[3]

He liked to travel far and wide in beat-up old cars, frequently picked up hitchhikers, and spent time in bars and motels. Fowler believed that women he came into contact with who were hitchhiking and hanging out in bars wanted to be sexually assaulted.[5]

Suspected crimes[edit]

Fowler is a suspect or person of interest in at least 16 murders in British Columbia and Oregon[6] dating as far back as 1969.

Project E-Pana[edit]

Fowler was a suspect under the focus of RCMP project E-Pana. His DNA was found on the body of Colleen MacMillen.[7] Fowler is also strongly suspected to have killed both Gale Weys and Pamela Darlington in 1973. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police believe that he may have also killed as many as ten of the other victims,[7] and possibly as many as 20.[8] Potential Canadian victims include those murdered and missing along the Highway of Tears. However, many of these murders occurred after Fowler's imprisonment in 1996 and geographic profiler Kim Rossmo is on the record as saying that in his opinion Fowler is not responsible for any of the deaths along Highway 16, which includes the Highway of Tears.[9] It is possible that the only thing linking Fowler to Highway 16 is that he worked for a now closed Prince George roofing company, Happy's Roofing, in 1974.[10]

Other murders[edit]

On May 3, 1992 around 1:00 a.m., Sheila Swanson, 19, and Melissa Sanders, 17, were last seen making a call from a payphone near the Beverly Beach State Park where they had been camping.[11][12] Their bodies were later discovered on October 10, 1992, by hunters in a wooded area near Eddyville, Oregon.

On January 28, 1995 around 1:00 a.m., Jennifer Esson, 16 and Kara Leas, 16 are last seen walking on NW 56th Street in Newport, Oregon walking toward Highway 101 near Moolack Beach after leaving a friends house. Their strangled bodies were later discovered on February 15, 1995, by loggers in a wooded area, covered up with brush.[12]

Arrest and investigation[edit]

On June 28, 1995, Fowler was arrested following an incident which involved a woman jumping out of a Tides Inn motel in Newport, Oregon motel window with a rope still tied to her ankle. She survived the attack and reported her tale to the local police.

On January 8, 1996, Fowler was convicted of kidnapping in the first degree, attempted rape in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, coercion, assault in the fourth degree, and menacing. He was sentenced to 195 months (16 years, 3 months) with the possibility of parole.

On September 25, 2012, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Lincoln County District Attorney Rob Bovett named Bobby Jack Fowler as a suspect in three of the Highway of Tears murders. His DNA was found on the body of Colleen MacMillen, one of the presumed victims.[7]


In May 2006, Fowler died at the age of 66 in Oregon State Penitentiary from lung cancer.[13] His body was cremated.


  1. ^ ["We think that was how he tried to protect himself, immediately rabbiting to another part of the country and establishing himself there," Lincoln County Detective Ron Benson, quoted in Lori tobias], "Bobby Jack Fowler, suspect in death of Newport teen girls, may have killed 20 or more people", The Oregonian, October 29, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Bobby Jack Fowler: One murder solved as difficult 'Highway of Tears' investigations go on | Canada | News | National Post". 2012-09-21. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  3. ^ a b c "Bobby Jack Fowler, suspect in death of Newport teen girls, may have killed 20 or more people". The Oregonian. 2012-10-29.
  4. ^ "Global BC | B.C. teen murdered on Highway of Tears linked to U.S. prisoner". Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  5. ^ "Bobby Jack Fowler: He was violent, charming and sometimes disarming". Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  6. ^ Lori Tobias (2012-09-25). "Dead inmate a possible suspect in as many as seven Oregon homicides, more in Canada". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  7. ^ a b c "Deceased U.S. convict linked to 3 B.C. cold cases - British Columbia - CBC News". Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  8. ^ "Suspect named in 1995 double homicide, linked to 20 others | Local & Regional | - Portland News, Sports, Traffic Weather and Breaking News - Portland, Oregon". 2012-09-10. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  9. ^ Culbert, Lori. "Serial killer Bobby Fowler probably not the main Highway of Tears murderer, profiler says". Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  10. ^ Culbert, Lori. "Bobby Jack Fowler, dead U.S. sex offender, linked to three B.C. ‘Highway of Tears’ murders". Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  11. ^ District Attorney, Lincoln County, Oregon. "Global News | Chronology of events in Lincoln County, Oregon". Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  12. ^ a b in Unsolved (2009-04-27). "Bizarre Crime of the Week: Investigation Discovery: Help Solve the Murders of Teenage Girls in Oregon". Archived from the original on 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  13. ^ "Bobby Jack Fowler linked to one 'Highway of Tears' death and suspected in two others |". 1974-08-09. Retrieved 2012-09-27.

External links[edit]