Terry Driver

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Terry Driver (born 1965), alias the Abbotsford killer, is a convicted Canadian murderer who attacked two teenage girls with a baseball bat, killed one, then taunted police in Abbotsford, British Columbia with letters and phone calls.[1][2]

Crimes and investigation[edit]

On October 13, 1995, 16-year-olds Misty Cockerill and Tanya Smith were walking to a party when Driver broke through a hedge nearby with a baseball bat and ordered the girls to go through the bush. After stumbling into a clearing, Driver told both girls to remove their clothes. While Smith complied, Cockerill attempted to fight back, grabbing the bat and hitting Driver across the back as he prepared to rape Smith. Driver eventually overpowered Cockerill and beat her into unconsciousness. Cockerill came to in a parking lot and walked to the hospital, where she was immediately rushed into surgery for severe skull fractures and survived. Later that morning, Smith's badly beaten body was found in a river where she drowned, although she would have died of her beating in any event.[3]

After the attack, Driver engaged in a course of bizarre behavior that eventually led to his capture. He made a series of telephone calls to police and emergency services in which he refused to give his name, but clearly identified himself as the killer, and threatened more crimes. Driver, whose father had been a police officer, had an obsession with scanners, and used one to monitor police responses to his telephone calls. He attended the funeral of Tanya Smith, and then later stole her tombstone, wrote a threatening message to Cockerill on it, and then put it on the hood of a car belonging to a radio station. He also threw a wrench with a note to police through a stranger's front window. The note mentioned three other similar assaults for which he sought credit. He had left a thumbprint on some tape around the package, and he had left DNA on the body. Police arranged for the broadcast of recordings of the telephone calls, and Driver's brother recognized his voice. His mother concurred in the identification. Police determined that Driver's thumbprint matched the one on the tape, and he was arrested in 1996.[3]

Trial and imprisonment[edit]

After his arrest, Driver denied that he had beaten the two girls. He claimed he happened upon them after the crime, raped the unconscious Tanya, and threw her body in the river. He claimed he drove Misty to the hospital. At trial, he did not raise an insanity defense, but claimed he had Tourette's syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder, and urged these impairments be considered to explain his actions. He used this argument to explain that the confessions he gave were false and the product of his disorders. Because of the emotional response that was inevitable in a trial, Driver elected to be tried in front of a judge instead of a jury. The judge was unpersuaded by Driver's arguments and he was convicted in 1997 of the first-degree murder of Tanya Smith and the attempted murder of Misty Cockerill, declared a dangerous offender,[3][4] and received a mandatory life sentence from Judge Wally Oppal.[5] He appealed, but in 2001, lost.[6]

In a later trial, Driver was convicted of two of the assaults he mentioned in the letter that he threw through the window.[3]

In 2006, Driver was transferred from protective custody at Kent Institution to the Pacific Institution/Regional Treatment Centre in Abbotsford for treatment.[5] Corrections Canada came under criticism for this move.[7]


  1. ^ Scott Steele (May 20, 1996), "Abbotsford Killer Arrested", Maclean's, The Canadian Encyclopedia, archived from the original on September 26, 2006, retrieved 2010-03-18
  2. ^ Michael H. Stone & Gary Brucato. The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2019), pp. 109-111.
  3. ^ a b c d Semrau, Stanley; Judy Gale (2002). Murderous minds on trial: terrible tales from a forensic psychiatrist's case book. Dundurn Press Ltd. pp. 50–66. ISBN 978-1-55002-361-9.
  4. ^ "Abbotsford killer" declared a dangerous offender, CBC News, January 13, 2000, retrieved 2009-06-28
  5. ^ a b Neal Hall (August 22, 2006), "Victim's family upset at return of killer", The Vancouver Sun, archived from the original on May 9, 2012, retrieved 2009-06-28
  6. ^ "Terry Driver loses appeal of murder conviction". CBC news. 29 January 2001. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  7. ^ "Killer moved to victims' community". www.ccvf.net. The Province. 22 August 2006. Retrieved 28 June 2019.

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