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April 4, 2020

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Woman’s body found in forest; husband arrested

She grew up in Vancouver; police say he'll face murder charge

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Brian Charles Cole, 37, arrested in death of his wife, Heather Dawn Mallory.
Brian Charles Cole, 37, arrested in death of his wife, Heather Dawn Mallory. Photo Gallery

The body of Heather Dawn Mallory, a onetime Vancouver resident who went missing more than two years ago, has been found in a forest and her husband, Brian Charles Cole, was arrested in Idaho one day later on suspicion of her killing, police said Friday.

Mallory was 32, training to be a chef and living with Cole in Portland on March 8, 2008, when he reported her missing.

The Portland Police Bureau said she’d attended school the day before at the Portland Culinary Institute, worked a shift as a server and spent the night socializing with friends.

When she returned home the next morning, police were told she and Cole argued and she drove away in her Ford Focus, leaving her belongings and son, River, then 3, behind.

Portland police detectives found the Ford three weeks later and continued their investigation in the disappearance.

Nearly three months after her disappearance, police executed a search warrant at the couple’s apartment in Southeast Portland and seized a computer, paperwork and Cole’s pickup as evidence.

Around that time, Cole told KATU-TV news that he’d failed a police lie detector test.

“I was offered a voluntary lie-detector and said, ‘OK I’ll come in and take it to clear my name, and it completely backfired on me,’ ” he told KATU.

Still, Portland police didn’t immediately arrest Cole, lacking enough evidence including the body, and he moved to the Sandpoint, Idaho, area with the boy.

“We believe that foul play was involved,” Portland police Detective Mike Weinstein said a year after Mallory went missing. “This case is different in that we don’t have all the answers we need to resolve the case, but we will.”

Friday, Portland police said they were notified Wednesday that human remains had been found in a Bureau of Land Management forest east of Estacada, Ore.

There, deputies with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office assisted Portland detectives in recovering evidence at the crime scene, police said.

Cole, 37, was arrested Thursday night in Sagle, Idaho, with the help of sheriff’s detectives and deputy prosecutors in Bonner County, Portland police said in a bulletin.

Friday night, an official at the Bonner County Jail in Sandpoint said Cole was being held without bail on a fugitive warrant.

He’ll be extradited to Portland to face a murder charge, Portland police said in the bulletin.

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Greg Stewart told The Columbian Friday evening that he could answer no follow-up questions, including what sort of evidence detectives had accumulated — and found in the forest — to enable them to arrest Cole a day after the body was found.

Heather Mallory grew up in Vancouver and attended Eisenhower Elementary School and Jason Lee Junior High School. She then moved to Gig Harbor with her family and graduated from high school there.

In a remembrance for friends and family members at Lewis River Golf Course in March 2009, a year after Mallory went missing, her parents, Stephen and Jeni Mallory of Gig Harbor, said they were convinced she wasn’t still alive.

“She was very outgoing and instantly made friends,” her mother told the group, at times using the present tense. “She has a beautiful smile and is funny and people like to be around her and she is extremely social. She loved hiking. She loved to cook and that’s what prompted her getting into the culinary school. And she loved being a mother.”

A friend, Heidi Martin of Gig Harbor, said she and Mallory “read each other’s diaries.”

“She’s a beautiful free spirit,” Martin told the group. “I’m just thankful she was in my life.”

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.

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