Phone calls end after wife’s disappearance, police analyst says in trial

Husband's phone calls fell abruptly after wife Heather Mallory disappeared, Portland police analyst says in murder trial

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Brian Charles Cole made a flurry of phone calls to his wife in the 24 hours leading up to her disappearance — as many as five calls in five minutes at one point — as he tried to track her down. He knew she was having an affair.

But after March 8, 2008 — the last time anyone saw former Vancouver resident Heather Dawn Mallory alive — Cole dialed his wife’s cell phone number only once or twice a day, a police analyst testified Wednesday. His text messages to his wife — four alone on the morning she disappeared — dropped to zero.

Cole didn’t need to call her anymore, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Jenna Plank suggested, because as her killer, he knew she wasn’t missing — she was dead.

The prosecution presented the testimony about the phone records as part of its case against Cole, 38, charged with his wife’s murder. Mallory’s skeletal remains were discovered in the woods outside Estacada last July, more than two years after her disappearance.

The trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court, which began June 7, is expected to continue into next week. Prosecutors are arguing that Cole was a controlling husband who had previously hit his wife and had installed parental controls on her cell phone.

The defense contends that the state focused solely on Cole as the culprit and failed to investigate other suspects.

Adra Hayward, a crime analyst with Portland police, said Cole’s pattern of persistent phone calls the night before his wife disappeared mirrors his actions in a similar instance on Jan. 17, 2008: Mallory had not come home and Cole called and texted her repeatedly, trying to locate her.

But Cole’s attorney, Russell Barnett, questioned whether Hayward’s analysis of calls during the January and March events established a pattern of behavior. Hayward acknowledged that she did not know whether Cole knew Mallory’s location in the January incident.

Barnett also noted that Cole continued to call Mallory for weeks after her disappearance; Cole didn’t stop altogether.

The state also played tapes of four phone calls Cole made in April 2010 as investigators tried to trick him into thinking that Mallory’s body had been found. Cole, who had moved to Idaho with his son shortly after Mallory’s disappearance, made the calls after investigators showed up in Idaho to question family and friends.

In the calls to his stepfather, mother, father-in-law and in a voicemail to police, Cole asked whether they knew if Mallory’s body had been found. He said in some calls that he felt sick and sounded otherwise “stressed out and agitated,” Hayward said.

Hayward said under cross-examination that Cole was upset and crying in the phone calls and she conceded that he did not say anything incriminating.