Cops apologize after cat filter used on news conference video about slayings

The online stream of the news conference showed Sgt. Janelle Shoihet with cartoon cat ears, nose and whiskers as she discussed the deaths

By Noah Feit
The State (Columbia, S.C.)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia is apologizing for a mistake that was made during a news conference on the deaths of a Charlotte, North Carolina, woman and her Australian boyfriend.

The facts were accurate, but the online stream of the news conference showed Sgt. Janelle Shoihet with cartoon cat ears, nose and whiskers as she discussed the deaths of Chynna Noelle Deese and Lucas Robertson Fowler, the Daily Hive reported.

Police said the “cat filter” had been activated during Friday’s news conference, according to Fox News.

“Yes we are aware and addressing it as it’s an automatic setting. Thank you, we will rectify and issue a video shortly,” police tweeted during the news conference.

Police later issued an apology without mentioning the cat filter specifically.

“We do apologize that our back up social media feed had both audio and video filter challenges when it was started. We noticed the issues and cancelled the live feed,” said a police statement shared by NEWS 1130. “... It is unfortunate, but was by no means intentional. We are hopeful that moving forward the focus on this incident can be on our efforts to seek public assistance.”

Another version of the news conference was recorded, with no cat filter, and was posted to the police’s Facebook page.

The cat filter appeared in the original video as Shoihet was reaching out to the public for information that could help the investigation into the shooting deaths of Deese and Fowler, NEWS 1130 reported.

The bodies of Deese, 24, and Fowler, 23, were found on a remote highway and their deaths are considered homicides, police said.

Deese, a North Carolina resident who graduated from Myers Park High School before getting a degree from Appalachian State, had just started an extended road trip in Canada with Fowler — her boyfriend since 2017, McClatchy reported.

Investigators believe Deese and Fowler were likely killed between 4 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Monday, and their bodies were found along the Alaska Highway, 12 miles south of Liard Hot Springs, a popular tourist attraction in British Columbia, a press release said. Parked nearby was Fowler’s blue minivan.

Deese’s brother, British Deese, told McClatchy newspapers his family has been led to believe the killings were “brutal” enough that an open casket won’t be allowed at his sister’s funeral.

Chynna Deese’s father, Dwayne Deese, told McClatchy it took authorities three days to identify the bodies, which tells him the deaths were violent. It also suggests all forms of identification were taken, he said.

“They were deeply in love,” British Deese said in an interview with McClatchy. “They met traveling and that’s just what they did — travel. He was working in Canada and they were planning an extensive road trip there for three weeks.”

The family has read stories of an alleged serial killer that prowls the Alaska Highway, but they don’t believe a double murder fits that scenario, British Deese said.

Police said there is no evidence to support claims of a serial killer.

Anyone with information on the deaths is asked to call police at 250-774-2700.

“This investigation is in its very infancy and it is not yet clear whether Lucas and Chynna were targeted or if this was a crime of opportunity,” police said.

©2019 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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