After years of pushing for hearing, parents of B.C. logger found dead in his home testify at inquest
WARNING: This story contains graphic content
The parents of a Chilliwack, B.C., logger found dead in 2011 are testifying this week at a coroner's inquest into their son's death, after fighting for years to win the hearing.
Gladys and Ed Scherbey have long argued that their son Corey was the victim of a homicide, not an accidental drug and alcohol overdose.
The decomposing body of 38-year-old Corey Scherber was discovered by his mother at his home on Aug. 22, 2011.
On the first day of the inquest Monday, Gladys Scherbey described how she first saw her dead son kneeling in front of a leather sofa, his head buried in the pillows.
She told the coroner's jury that she somehow lifted the 194-pound man and laid him on the floor, where she saw a massive pool of dark blood or liquid.
"I ran out of the house screaming... someone has killed Corey, murdered, murdered, murdered," she said at the inquest, which will hear testimony from witnesses and experts.
Police initially investigated the case as a homicide, but abandoned that tack after the coroner ruled the death an accidental overdose in 2014. The dead man's parents went to court twice after the solicitor general refused to order an inquest.
In 2018 the RCMP issued a formal apology for how they investigated the death initially and two B.C. Supreme Court justices ordered the solicitor general's office to consider holding a formal inquest.
The inquest was scheduled for April 14, but delayed by the pandemic.
For close to a decade, the Scherbeys have pointed to various inconsistencies at the death scene. An expert opinion they paid for suggested the body decomposed faster than normal, and that may point to foul play.
However, that 2016 report, which suggested it was more likely that their son was smothered, was not allowed as evidence at the inquest this week.
Presiding coroner Margaret Janzen ruled last Friday that Dr. Christopher Green's report and testimony could "potentially confuse the jury," adding that Green's medical expertise was primarily in radiology and neuroscience and he had no experience as a pathologist, forensic toxicologist or in dealing with sudden death investigations.
During her testimony on Monday, Gladys Scherbey said she'd never seen her son under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Corey Scherbey worked as a logger securing cables around logs for removal. His mother described how he was an excellent cook and once spent a day making borscht from scratch, and how he was always grateful when she brought him homemade food like perogies.
He left behind a 12-year-old son.
The first witness at the inquest also described the day the man's body was found.
Kevin McAlpine rented a basement suite in Corey Scherbey's house for $600 a month.
He said on the "stifling hot" day his landlord's body was found, he heard Gladys Scherbey screaming "Corey." He said he saw the room where the body lay, which was littered with dead flies and filled with an "overwhelming" stench.
McAlpine said he and Scherbey occasionally drank a beer together or hung out. He described him as a great person to be around and a "gentle, teddy bear" of a man.
But McAlpine said sometimes Scherbey got high on cocaine and would shut his curtains and lock the door to avoid him.
McAlpine also described one instance when Scherbey invited a sex worker to his home and spent the day doing drugs with her, before they had an argument and he asked her to leave. Scherbey later told him the sex worker had been paid for her services, but also wanted money for drugs that she'd brought and he'd consumed, McAlpine said.
The inquest continues into Thursday.
The jury in a coroner's inquest does not assign fault but can make recommendations on how to prevent similar deaths in the future.