Hundreds of family and friends have gathered on Sydney’s north shore to farewell Australian traveller Lucas Fowler, who was murdered in Canada.
A memorial service for the 23-year-old was held at Turramurra Uniting Church on Friday – nearly three weeks after he was shot dead alongside his American girlfriend Chynna Deese on a British Columbia highway.
The church, which has a capacity of 400, was full for Friday’s service.
Mr Fowler’s father, NSW Police Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler, arrived with his wife and Lucas’ two brothers and a sister after returning from British Columbia, where he was briefed by authorities on the July 15 murder.
He told the service that his son had lived a life many envied.
“He didn’t just dream of travelling, he worked and saved and made it happen,” Inspector Fowler said.
He was remembered for his “beautiful blond curls” and big smile.
Inspector Fowler remembers when Lucas announced he was going backpacking overseas with a friend.
The family had their last Christmas together before he left.
Mr Fowler met Mr Deese in Croatia two years ago, and Inspector Fowler said the couple were “full of happiness”.
They had embarked on a road trip across Canada before their van broke down and they were found dead on a British Columbia highway on July 15.
“We are so happy that Lucas and Chynna found each other and had such a great time travelling together, meeting new friends and just milking every last drop of fun out of life,” Inspector Fowler said.
“They laughed and loved, and touched the hearts of everyone they met.”
“The day she stole Lucas’ heart was the day she became part of our family,” he said.
The globetrotter loved camping from a young age – a love that was nurtured during annual family trips to Mylestom on the northern NSW coast.
Lucas was also known for his very limited style of dress – a white t-shirt, flannelette shirt and low-hanging jeans.
A group of his friends on Friday wore flannelettes in honour of the adventurous 23-year-old.
They remembered him as kind, carefree and full of joy.
“No matter where he was or who he was with, he brought, love, smiles and laughter,” one friend told the service.
NSW Police Minister David Elliott and Inspector Fowler’s police colleagues were also at the church.
The family has requested donations be made to a charity in lieu of flowers.
Mr Fowler’s family previously said after his death that they had lost a dear son, brother, grandson and friend in the “most terrible of circumstances”.
Ms Deese, 24, was farewelled by loved ones at a service at New City Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, a few days ago.
Canadian police have scaled back the massive manhunt for the teenagers wanted over the deaths of Mr Fowler and Ms Deese, as well Vancouver professor Leonard Dyck, after no confirmed sightings for about a week.
They said they had canvassed more than 500 homes and buildings in northern Manitoba, and followed-up on 250 tips.
But the suspects Kam McLeod, 18, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 19, have not been found.
Ms Deese’s brother British told CBC news on July 31 he hoped all of Canada would help in the manhunt for the runaway teens.
“We pray that the two boys get caught … and [we’re] asking for the entire country of Canada’s help in doing that.”
“Right now, we’re just paralyzed. So I can’t tell you when or what the next step is, or what even tomorrow looks like,” he said.
“Every time I even try to understand the fact that my little sister isn’t in my life anymore ….” he said, but couldn’t finish the thought.
“And that’s how it’s going to be.”