Case Of Tanya Smith
Details: On October 13, 1995, sixteen-year-old Tanya Smith and her friend, fifteen-year-old Misty Cockerill, attended a party in Abbotsford, British Columbia. At around midnight, they started walking home when they were attacked by an anonymous attacker. He hit them with a baseball bat and then raped them. He then dumped Tanya’s lifeless body into the Vedder River and drowned her. Misty escaped and went to the hospital to seek treatment for her traumas. She then notified police of what happened to her and Tanya, whose corpse was discovered later that day.
Following the killing, a man believed to be Tanya’s murderer taunted many residents of Abbotsford, bragging about the killing and claiming that he would kill again. He also desecrated Tanya’s grave. He stays unidentified.
Tanya’s murderer is 6’0″, has a slim build, and is possibly in his mid-thirties. After the killing, an unidentified man thought to be Tanya’s murderer began harassing various people throughout the town. He made many phone calls to 911 operators, claiming that he will kill again. He also reportedly desecrated Tanya’s grave many times. On February 17, 1996, he called the only radio station in Abbotsford and told the producers to look outside. In the parking lot, Tanya’s headstone was discovered lying on top of the station’s news cruiser. Threats and profanities written in pen had been scrawled across an image of Tanya which was engraved on it.
Two days later, a note taped around a wrench was thrown through the window of a family unrelated to this case. The note mentioned three other attacks for which Tanya’s murderer sought credit. A fingerprint was discovered on the duct tape that was utilized to tape the note to the wrench. Nonetheless, no matches were discovered.
Along with a composite sketch, police have one other clue Tanya’s murderer’s identity: his voice. It was recorded when he made phone calls to 911. In one of them, he stated: “Do you think that I would be silly enough to leave fingerprints behind when I make a phone call? Are you having difficulty discovering the murderer? I’m the one, allowing you to try and find me. I’ll be cruising around, looking for someone else. Just to let you know who I am.” Investigators hope that someone will recognize his voice.
Extra Notes: This case first aired as a Special Bulletin on the April 12, 1996 episode. It was documented on The New Detectives after it was resolved. The victims’ names were also altered on the program.
Results: Solved. In May 1996, thirty-one-year-old Terry Driver was apprehended and accused of Tanya’s rape and killing and the attempted murder of Misty. His mum and brother identified his voice as the murderer’s and turned him into the police. His fingerprint fitted the one discovered on duct tape attached to a note from Tanya’s murderer. DNA evidence also associated him with her killing. Furthermore, in his phone calls, he repeatedly referred to a bite mark on her corpse and mentioned that she was wearing sandals that night; this data was never released to the public.
Misty testified against him at his prosecution. The driver claimed that he found her and Tanya after they were assaulted. He further claimed that he raped Tanya, threw her corpse in the river, and then took Misty to the hospital. The judge didn’t believe this; he was sentenced to first-degree murder and attempted murder. The judge announced him a “dangerous offender” and gave him a compulsory life sentence.
The driver was later sentenced to two other attacks that were mentioned in the note attached to the wrench. While in prison, he allegedly told a psychologist that he murdered three other women. Investigators looked at him as a suspect in three other unsolved murders: prostitute Linda Tatrai; Colleen Shook, who was murdered after exiting a bus; and Kim Stolberg, who was murdered at her dad’s workplace. All three were stabbed to death in 1985. Attached to the wrench note were clippings from the Vancouver Sun about their killings. Nonetheless, police stated that they later ruled him out as a suspect in Kim’s murder; DNA discovered on her body did not fit him.
Misty Cockerill in 2009
The driver passed away while still imprisoned at Mountain Institution on August 23, 2021. Misty is now an advocate of victims’ rights and is dedicated to helping others who were in similar situations as she was. She now has a daughter whom she named in memory of Tanya.