Thirty-four-year-old Nelson, BC resident Cory Westcott disappeared under suspicious circumstances in the late summer of 2020. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Some hold the key to unravelling what happened and bringing him home.
Cory was a fun, energetic and down to earth young man who really wanted to take control of his life. He just reached the pivotal moment every person has at some point during their lives. I spoke with Cory’s mom, Dee, for this story to get to know Cory.
“Cory was an awesome kid, I have to say. He was very respectful and e-very loving. He was very busy; he enjoyed BMXing, he joined lots of competitions. [He] was always busy! Built his own ramps. He was a real go-getter as a kid and as an adult. He had high energy. Very Funny. He was always joking. He was a very happy character, and even in the darkest moments, he would try to find something positive. And he was a great teacher to me, I have to say, in a lot of ways because sometimes I would have a crisis in my life, and he would say, “You know mom, you decide how your day is going to be as soon as your feet touch the floor when you get out of bed. If it’s going to be a good day or a bad day.”
“He was ok in school. He wasn’t straight A’s or anything. He had to work for pretty much everything. He didn’t really like to read, so when it came to doing his essays and stuff like that, he’d have to read a book and then write what the book was about, and generally, I’d have to read the book to him and have a discussion and then he could do his report on it. Because he just didn’t like to sit and read. Not like my daughter, she didn’t have to work for very much, it just came, but Cory had to work for his. [But he was] very determined. When he set his mind to something, there was just no stopping him. He was always on the go and enjoyed sports, even as an adult. He went to the gym every day of his life. He wouldn’t miss it. Even if he didn’t feel good, he’d still get up and trudge his way to the gym. He was very committed. He did do the BMXing and played football for a bit. Of course, as he got to [be] an older teenager, he wasn’t as into that. He was more wanting to hang out with his friends and that kind of thing. I guess that’s quite normal to get away from the sports so much when you get a little bit older and more recreation, right?” ~ Dee Zacher, Cory’s Mother
Cory seemed to live his life with his heart on his sleeve, a lover, you may say, and not a fighter, despite his muscular physique. He fell in love and married at a very young age, a marriage that seemed fated to fail from the start. But he dove in head and heart first.
“Cory married very young. He married an older woman. They didn’t last, I think, because of the age difference. Cory was young, and we know that men take quite a long time to mature in comparison, well, some men anyway. Cory was very boyish when he married, so I wasn’t really surprised that it didn’t last. I didn’t think it would, but I held out positivity. I don’t know if they ever got divorced. She has been gone for over 10 years. She was American. He went to a Burning Man concert down there in the desert. He met her at this Burning Man thing, and they hit it off. They communicated for a while, and then he went to visit her and phoned me and said, “I got married.” ~ Dee Zacher, Cory’s Mother
After the marriage ended, Cory took time to travel to various parts of the world, trying to find himself, carefully selecting meaningful tattoos to mark special events and occasions happening during his life. His body was his canvas, and his canvas read like an open book. And like many books, Cory sometimes was judged by his cover, even now in his mom’s pursuit for media coverage into her son’s suspicious disappearance.
Some of what leads to this is the facial tattoos that Cory got. He had two teardrop tattoos under his right eye and an anchor under his left eye. Teardrop tattoos are often associated with gang members or criminals responsible for the murder or death of another. Still, it all really depends under which eye they are placed. Teardrop tattoos under the right eye mean the person lost a family member or a gang member to murder, and it’s worn as a symbol of mourning.
Cory had some deep relationships after his marriage’s dissolution, but those relationships, despite mutual affection, couldn’t pass the hurdles put before them.
By mid-2019, Cory was ready to move out of Vancouver for a quieter life closer to his sister, niece and nephew and to his mom, who was living in and around Nelson, BC. When he moved back, he reconnected with some old friends he had since he was 18. By the summer of 2020, His sister had to move out of Nelson to be closer to a hospital for Sick Kids for the care of her daughter and Cory’s mom would go back & forth to help her when she could. Cory and his most recent girlfriend were on a break but still got together and communicated regularly as they worked on their relationship. Cory had joined a local church and signed himself up for personal counselling. He was ready to face and tame the addictions that were starting to run his life.
It was the end of August, the very last day, in fact, and Cory’s day started out like every other day, at the gym. Cory was in a good mood, and he and the gym owner had been joking around about how Cory would need to increase his food intake because he had lost a few pounds. It was a good thing he had lunch plans later that day with some friends. A little while after finishing up at the gym, he met up with some friends for lunch, they stopped and got sushi. Following lunch, Cory ran out to do some errands, purchasing some toiletries and a few packages of hemp t-shirts and undergarments. He went back to his place but didn’t quite get around to putting his newly purchased things away. Those items still sat by the door and on the counter when Cory’s mom went to stay at his place days following his disappearance.
In addition to the recently purchased items not put away and the $500 or so in cash on the counter, Cory’s older phone sat there as well.
There is no indication of the time that Cory left his apartment that day, but he was seen on CCTV at 6:30 pm at the Shell gas station located on Hwy 6 in Taghum, BC. This is about halfway between Nelson and Bonington, his destination, and only about a 10 min drive (9.5 km or 6 miles) from his place. He drove a grey 2007 Toyota Tundra pick-up truck. The pick-up truck needed some repairs as it had an issue with a sensor that would sometimes prevent it from shifting and would be stuck only travelling at 40 KPH (26 MPH). He’d have to reset the sensor to get it working normally again by unhooking and re-hooking the battery.
In the CCTV footage, Cory is seen wearing a black T-shirt. He filled the truck’s tank with fuel, bought 3 coconut waters and popped the hood to the truck while he fiddled with its battery. It was an annoyance for sure, but he had a tool for the task and knew what to do. He had scheduled to bring the truck in for repairs in the next few weeks.
Next, Cory drove to a friend’s home, one of British Columbia’s many official Cannabis micro-cultivators. He was confirmed at this location between 8:00 pm to 8:30 pm from a third party who attended the residence to deliver a recreational amount of cocaine for the dwelling’s resident, the person that Cory was visiting. Allegedly the friend he was visiting had been on 3-day cocaine high. Cory’s friend, the one who lived there, would later tell law enforcement that he and Cory were getting high on ketamine, often known as special-k.
Ketamine is a type of anesthetic, usually only used in vet clinics. When used, it can give a feeling of disassociation and vivid dreams. Ketamine can become addictive, and the more a person takes, the more they’ll eventually need to feel the same effects. Usually, it takes anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes, depending on how it’s taken, for the effects to kick in and lasts about an hour to 2 hours. It’s very rare for an overdose on ketamine to lead to death based on the poison. Generally, if too much ketamine is taken, you fall into a semi-conscious state that’s often referred to as a k-hole. When someone is in this state, they don’t have much control of their body at all.
Cory’s friend would later confirm that Cory was there that day but would insist that Cory left his residence between 12:00 am and 1:00 am on September 1st. He said he had asked him to leave as he needed to work the following day. This friend worked from home farming cannabis on his property. He has several surveillance cameras surrounding his house and property due to the nature of his farm. However, when asked about camera footage by the police, he told them that none of the surveillance cameras were working during that specific period.
Allegedly this individual’s place is a stopping ground for importing and exporting other illegal drugs and the cannabis farm is a front. This podcast has not been able to confirm this information through independent sources.
No other witness is confirming that Cory left that residence that day.
Cory’s phone records show a last outgoing call at around 11:00 pm on the 31st. It was a short voicemail message to an ex-girlfriend that lived in Vancouver. She had told law enforcement and Cory’s family that she could only hear noises in the voicemail, noises that sounded like, to her, gurgling sounds. The voicemail was automatically deleted after 7 days from the cellular provider, so there’s no copy of it since the investigation in to his disappearance had a bit of a slow start, but law do have the records showing a call placed to her number on that date at that time.
On September 1st, Cory’s mother had been trying to reach him on his cell phone. The phone rang and then went to voicemail. She attempted to call several times throughout the day, and there was still no answer. She was growing uneasy as this wasn’t typical behaviour.
On September 2nd Cory’s mother got in touch with his most recent ex-girlfriend, the one he was on a break with, and another close friend, who had also told her that they hadn’t heard from Cory either. They had stated that he had missed appointments that day, which was not like him, and they were growing concerned. He was supposed to have met another ex-roommate and friend for lunch, evening plans with his ex and a counselling appointment he had made. His mom kept trying to reach him through his cell, but by now the calls weren’t ringing anymore, they were going straight to voicemail.
By September 3rd, still not having heard from Cory, his mom, Dee, reached out again to Cory’s ex-girlfriend and the other close friend and asked them to report Cory missing with the Nelson Police and that she would be there as soon as she could. Dee was out of town caring for her grandson, while her daughter and grand-daughter were at the hospital for sick kids.
Cory’s friend contacted the Nelson Police and filed a missing person’s report. Following the report, the Nelson police contacted Cory’s mom for her statement, details into the circumstances of his disappearance, and to provide her with police contact information and his missing person file number.
People had started calling the police between the 4th and the 7th about an abandoned grey pick-up truck on the side of a dirt service road that hugs the Kootenay Canal. A search by helicopter confirmed the location.
His vehicle was located on September 7th, 7 days after his last confirmed sighting, on Rover creek Forest service road, near the Kootenay Canal. The area is a less travelled dirt service road that basically goes nowhere. But not only that, it travels in the opposite direction of Nelson, where Cory lived. It’s about a 7 min (6.5 km or 4 miles) drive from the house he was visiting that night.
Law enforcement estimated that the truck had been there for a week based on the amount dust and debris. This would mean it had been there since at least September 1st. The vehicle was parked on the right side of the dirt road, near the Canal, not far from the Blewitt Road bridge. There are no street lights, and the area is densely wooded. So, it would be very dark at 1 in the morning. The vehicle had a full tank of fuel. The keys were in the vehicle, allegedly in the ignition, and so was Cory’s flashlight that he carried in the truck.
Law enforcement completed a ground search of the area with search & rescue dogs (not cadaver dogs). The vehicle was not taken in for forensic testing, no testing was done on-site, and the vehicle was released the same day to Cory’s ex-girlfriend, who was a registered owner of the vehicle. She drove the vehicle to the same friend’s home where Cory was last seen, followed by another friend and his wife, the same friend who had reported Cory missing. The friend that Cory was visiting on August 31st would later be heard saying, “I hope I don’t get blamed for his death.”
Cory’s ex wasn’t at the house on the 31st, but knew this was his last confirmed location.
When asked why she brought the car there, she indicated that she and the two other friends went there to get him to answer questions.
The earliest Cory’s mom could get there was on the 8th. By this time the ground search was already completed.
On September 9th, an individual who runs in the same circles as the last person that Cory was visiting before he disappeared, went into the store under Cory’s apartment and asked if the corner apartment upstairs was for rent. This was only days after he was reported missing and was not yet reported in local newspapers. The lady at the store advised that she didn’t know so gave him the landlord’s name and number. He called the landlord and left a message. He would then return a second time that same week to the store on Baker Street, asking again if Cory’s apartment was for rent, this time using Cory’s name specifically.
Why would be someone ask if someone’s apartment was for rent only 9 days after they went missing? Did they know he wasn’t coming back? The apartment certainly wasn’t advertised and his missing person’s case wouldn’t be in the news for another week or two. This individual already lived an apartment across the street from Cory’s apartment
A water search of the canal, with boats with sonar equipment and divers, took place between the 10th to around noon on the 12th. The damn was turned off and the area thoroughly searched. No additional evidence indicated that Cory was in even in that location. His mom believes that the vehicle was placed there as a distraction, but that her son was never there to begin with.
Cory’s mom only got possession of the truck around September 25th, the day of the first newspaper article into the disappearance of her son. No forensic testing had been done on the truck. Who knows what they would be able to find at this point, when law enforcement would finally get around to it? She took the truck in to have the sensor issue repaired, just in case her son would come home. The, at the very least his truck would be fixed for him. She then parked it at her brother’s house. It would sit in her brother’s driveway for around 1 month before the police would decide to finally do any forensic testing on it.
The police have since reassigned Cory’s case to a new investigator, presumably in a different department. This new investigator had arranged for the truck’s forensic testing and has been in touch with Cory’s cell phone provider to obtain Cory’s phone records, which he confirms having, and is working with the cell provider to get any information on where his phone pinged (off which towers).
There 2 ways to locate a cell phone:
The first and most common way is through the Central Switch. Basically, law enforcement goes through the phone service provider to gain access through a central switch. Your phone communicates with cell towers regularly. Law enforcement would need the person’s cell Number, other wise known as a digital network number. The cell number is associated with the hardware record # (think of it as you’re your phone’s serial number). The hardware record number is then entered into the provider’s central switch which then searches for the hardware. They will then be able to see which towers the phone is hitting or hit within specified days and then triangulate its location. If the phone is on, a ping can be sent through the GPS system to your phone and then the phone will then report back its location. Usually, police will be able to coordinate with the cell provider and need a warrant, court or production order to get this information.
The second way is the rogue tower method, which tricks a person’s phone into thinking the device is their cell phone provider’s tower. Essentially, it disrupts all cell users’ regular service within the area and forces it to connect to this device, then makes each cell give up or show its digital network id. The network IDs are compared to the network ID of the hardware that they are looking for. When they find it, they then can send several signals to that device and the device will respond and send several back. All the return signals are analyzed to provide a geo-location. It needs to be within 15-20 km (9-12 miles) away from the target cell phone. It’s a specific device more commonly known through the Harris corporation brand name StingRay, which intelligence and law enforcement agencies use mostly in the US, but have been also known to be used in Canada and the UK. The catch to this technique, though, is that the phone has to be on. It’s not known how widely this is used in Canada due to privacy laws and / or if only CSIS or areas within the RCMP use this technology at all, but what we do know is that this would not have been an option in any case for Cory as his cell seemed to have died or was turned off before he was reported missing.
The person’s residence that Cory was visiting that night is in a treed area, it is a substantial enough property size and sits farther back from the road. You cannot see the house from the road. No warrant has yet been obtained to search this property.
In November, Dee asked the Nelson PD detective to organize an independent search of the crown land surrounding the area where Cory was last seen, which was permitted so long as she or the other searchers did not cross over into private property. She and 8 other individuals and loosely searched the area and put-up missing posters. Dee had come as close as legally possible to the last known location and for a second time put up a missing person poster, as the friend in which he was visiting had previously taken it down. This individual has done nothing to assist in the search of his so-called friend, has indicated that his numerous cameras coincidently were not working that day and has taken down the missing person’s posters in the areas surrounding his property.
Cory is described as 5’10” tall with a muscular build, weighing between 190 lbs and 210 lbs. He was 34 years old at the time of his disappearance. He has hazel eyes, is clean-shaven with light brown hair. He was shaved bald at the time of his disappearance. Cory has many distinctive tattoos covering his body, including a cross on his neck, Buddha on his back, ‘Sarah’ on his chest, two teardrop tattoos under his right eye and an anchor tattoo under his left eye.
In a message this podcast the Nelson Police advised the due to the ongoing investigation, they were not in a position to comment on them on any of the questions we asked. But did add that the circumstances of Cory Westcott’s disappearance remain a very active investigation. They ask that the public not to assume their information is insignificant or that the police have already received the information they hold.
Anyone with any information is requested to call Nelson Police at 250-354-3919.
If people wish to remain anonymous, they can contact BC Crime-stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (1-800-222-TIPS) or submit a tip on Facebook with West Kootenay Boundary Crimestoppers.
Cory’s mom Dee, has also created a go-fund account to raise money to help with the organization of additional searches and other investigative tools as may be allowed. Anyone wishing to help her in this regard can visit: https://gofund.me/ea0678b1
When we asked Dee, what she thought what happened to her son she said: “I don’t think he left that house alive…”