Phillip Innes Fraser

Phillip Innes Fraser

Phillip Innes Fraser

Did a mysterious hitchhiker murder a med student in the Canadian wilderness?

On June 14th, 1988, 25-year-old Philip Fraser, the son of two physicians, left his home in Anchorage, Alaska, to enroll in a pre-med course at Evergreen College in Washington State.  Philip had packed everything he owned for the trip, including two handguns.  On June 17th, after losing two days to car trouble, Philip crossed the border into Canada.  Craig Gates was a corporal with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the time of Philip’s crossing: 

“Philip did declare that he had two firearms of his own.  And at that point, our Canada customs people seized the firearms from him as it is illegal for Americans to enter Canada with any kind of a firearm.”

After a one-day delay, Philip Fraser was again, on his way.  His guns became the property of the Canadian government.  The next day, six hundred miles south of the border checkpoint, a hitchhiker was dropped off at a local café south of the border.  Café owner Gaye Frocklage was working when the hitchhiker stopped in:

“The individual that dropped him off didn’t come in to the café, just dropped him off and left… there was something wrong with him, in appearance, wasn’t comfortable.”

Gaye’s daughter, Tina, was also working at the cafe:

“I remember saying to Mom, you know maybe he escaped from a mental institution because he was so strange.”

Nobody was in the café at the time, and Gaye worried for her daughter’s safety:

“I wouldn’t leave her alone in the building with him as there was nobody else there at the time. I said to Tina, well you go ahead and take care of him and I’ll just hang around.  As I passed the side window, I saw a small black car pull up to the side of the café.  And the young man in the car… was searching his car like he had misplaced something that he needed.”

The mysterious hitchhiker wants a ride

The mysterious hitchhiker wants a ride

The vehicle was Philip Fraser’s.  Meanwhile, inside the café Gaye was relieved when the hitchhiker finally finished his meal.  He paid for his bill in Canadian money.  Gale then watched as the hitchhiker approached Philip’s car:

“The car sat for a few minutes and then he pulled ahead like he had second thoughts.  The hitchhiker just ran beside him and pulled the door open and the young man in the car proceeded to let him enter.”

According to Gaye, it was then that Philip drove off with the hitchhiker in his car:

“The strange thing was that, as they left the yard, Tina made some remark about he’s going to live to regret the day he picked this man up.  It was like a sixth sense that this man was capable of anything.”

Eight hours later and 200 miles south of the Café, Eddie and Pauline Olson, of Kitwanga, Canada, pulled over to help a stranded motorist.  Eddie Olson remembered how nervous the man was:

“I thought that he was just scared of being out there late at night, and at that point I just said well I’ll tow you home and we’ll figure it out in the morning.”

Eddie Olson offered to let him sleep in their basement for the night.  The next morning, the young man told Edie that his parents were both doctors in Anchorage and that he was on his way to college in the States, to study medicine:

“I got to talking to him about his car and he told me that if I was interested, he would sell it to me.  But I said the only way I would buy it is if he waited until Monday and we went through customs.  And he said that would be too late for him.”

The Olsons were surprised when the young man pulled out two wallets and began to behave secretively.  He gave the Olsons twenty dollars in American money, then left to fix his car.  Within an hour, the young man was back on the road, headed south.  The car trouble had turned out to be nothing more than a broken fan belt. 

Then, just twelve hours later, the charred ruins of Philip Fraser’s car were found at a car wash in Prince George, British Columbia, 300 miles from the Olson’s home.  According to Corporal Gates, the car was completely gutted prior to being set on fire:

“Nothing was found in the car of any significance.  In fact none of Philip Fraser’s belongings have ever been found.  The parents were contacted in Alaska and there was a great deal of investigation done at that point, as Philip was considered a missing person and potentially a homicide victim.”

Philip’s father, Dr. Robert Fraser, was not very hopeful after hearing the news:

“I was sure that there had been foul play.  But I kept hoping, thinking of all sorts of alternatives like maybe he decided he wanted to ditch his car and be on his own … intellectually I knew that was wrong because he really loved his car.”

Six weeks later, Dr. Fraser was informed that his son’s body had been found seventy miles from the Olson’s home:

“I felt angry and bitter. I wondered what kind of a person would destroy someone who was so idealistic and so full of life.”

What really happened along that lovely stretch of Canadian highway?  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police believed that the mysterious hitchhiker learned everything he could about Philip and then killed him.  Corporal Gates believed the hitchhiker assumed Phillip’s identity, stole his possessions, and finally, attempted to destroy the car:

“In my mind, he most definitely is a dangerous person.  He’s taken one life.  He has the capability of taking more… and I would consider him very dangerous.”

The authorities believe that the hitchhiker is familiar with Toronto and Seattle and may be using Phillip’s name—Philip Innes Fraser.  Among the items never recovered were Philip’s birth certificate, visa, passport, and checkbook.