Surrey, British Columbia - On January 6, 1995, Melanie Carpenter, a 23-year-old woman from Surrey, had received suspicious phone calls from a man feigning interest in a business deal. Later that day, Carpenter was abducted from where she was working alone at a tanning salon in the Fleetwood town centre of Surrey.
Carpenter's corpse was found shortly afterwards along an isolated road in a First Nations reserve near Hope, a rural town in British Columbia's Fraser Canyon, 45 kilometers (28 mi) northeast of Chilliwack. Her body had been abandoned in a crevice and concealed by a white blanket.
Carpenter loved her family - and feared the attentions of men. She often told her mother: "Mom, when you go out, hold your head up. Look like you're in control. Don't look vulnerable. Don't look like you could be prey." In fact, friends and relatives say that Carpenter, a 23-year-old hazel-eyed blond, was extremely cautious when it came to men.
According to her father, Carpenter was afraid of being abducted. He said he advised her not to put up a struggle if attacked by a man with a weapon, that it was better not to resist and to stay alive. Since her abduction, though, he has had cause to reconsider. "I wish," he said, "I had told her to fight with everything she's got."
Carpenter worked alone at the Island Tan outlet even though her boss, Gary Marshall, had tried to convince her to work at another location where there were usually two or more women on at a time.
The afternoon that Carpenter went missing, a bank security camera recorded a 37-year-old man, Fernand Auger, making a $300 withdrawal using Carpenter's debit card, and the footage was shown on national TV the next day. Auger was a drifter from Ontario, frequently working as a waiter in restaurants, and had been a resident of Calgary, Alberta, until moving to British Columbia days before the murder.
In August 1994, Auger had been released from prison in Bowden, Alberta, where he had served a 16-month sentence for armed robbery, and was on parole at the time. Auger quickly became the number one suspect in the abduction, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
On January 15, 1995, Auger was found dead at a vacant home in High River, Alberta, 55 kilometers (34 mi) south of Calgary, by a real estate agent during a viewing with a client. Auger had committed suicide in a garage on the property by inhaling carbon monoxide fumes from the engine of his car, a Hyundai Excel rented from Calgary.
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