‘Abbotsford Killer’ Terry Driver dies in prison of apparent natural causes – CBC.ca

Terry Driver, known as the “Abbotsford Killer” after taunting police and confessing anonymously to his crimes, has died of apparent natural causes in prison, according to a statement from the Correctional Service of Canada.

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A photo of Terry Driver taken around the time he killed a 16-year-old girl and attacked her friend near the hospital in Abbotsford, B.C., in October 1995. (CBC)

Terry Driver, known as the “Abbotsford Killer” after taunting police and confessing anonymously to his crimes, has died of apparent natural causes in prison, according to a statement from the Correctional Service of Canada.

Driver, 56, was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 after being convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Tanya Smith in 1995, as well as the attempted murder of her friend, Misty Cockerill, 15.

Smith and Cockerill were assaulted with a baseball bat as they returned from a birthday party, with Smith’s body later found in B.C.’s Vedder River.

The heinous attacks shocked the Fraser Valley and the whole of British Columbia. Driver was eventually caught in 1996 after an extended period where he taunted investigators.

He died at Mountain Institution, a medium-security federal penitentiary in Agassiz, B.C., on Monday. His in-custody death will be investigated by correctional services.

Murderer taunted police for 7 months

Driver attacked Cockerill and Smith on the night of Oct. 13, 1995, near the Abbotsford hospital, with Cockerill suffering severe head injuries after being knocked out cold. Smith was raped and later found drowned in the Vedder River.

Police were initially not looking for Driver, who was not known to them before the incident. He proceeded to taunt them by leaving threatening phone calls, and with other more brazen incidents, over the course of seven months.

The killer attended Smith’s funeral and later stole her headstone, leaving it on a vehicle belonging to an Abbotsford radio station.

Driver also left messages at the radio station and with police, threatening to kill others. He also claimed to have been responsible for multiple other assaults before 1995.

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A court drawing of Driver during his trial in 1997. He was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder of 16-year-old Tanya Smith and the attempted murder of her friend, Misty Cockerill, 15. (CBC)

The calls caused widespread panic and were later aired as investigators searched for leads. A $10,000 reward was offered.

Driver’s mother and brother recognized his voice after the broadcast, and their tip led to his arrest in May 1996.

George Ferguson, who was mayor of Abbotsford, said at the time that Driver would never have been found without the reward, as he was known as a “family man” before his crimes.

He unsuccessfully appealed his life sentence in 2001, with his designation as a dangerous offender allowing him to be incarcerated indefinitely.

Cockerill survived the incident and went on to be an advocate for victims’ rights.