Abbotsford killer Terry Driver dies in prison of apparently natural causes

Terry Driver, known as the “Abbotsford killer” after mocking the police and anonymously confessing his crimes, died of seemingly natural causes in prison, according to a Correctional Service of Canada statement.

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 years old.

Smith and Cockerill were assaulted with a baseball bat on their way home from a birthday party, with Smith’s body later found in the Vedder River in British Columbia.

The heinous attacks shocked the Fraser Valley and all of British Columbia. Driver was finally arrested in 1996 after a long period of making fun of investigators.

He died Monday at Mountain Institution, a medium security federal penitentiary in Agassiz, British Columbia. His death in custody will be investigated by the correctional services.

The murderer taunted the police for 7 months

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

The police were not initially looking for Driver, who was not known to them prior to the incident. He started taunting 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 then stole his gravestone, leaving it on a vehicle belonging to an Abbotsford radio station.

The driver also left messages for the radio station and the police, threatening to kill others. He also claimed to have been responsible for several other assaults before 1995.

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

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

The driver’s mother and brother recognized his voice after the broadcast and their information 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 award, as he was known as a “family man” before his crimes.

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

Cockerill survived the incident and became an advocate for victims’ rights.

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