In May of 2008, Dylan Koshman was 21 years old and looking to move out of his family home in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, and begin making a living elsewhere. Dylan was the middle son of five siblings, and he also had a large extended family that he was close to. Most people who knew Dylan describe him as fun, friendly, kind, and very family-oriented. He found work as a pipe fitter in Edmonton, Alberta, where he moved into a rented house with two of his older cousins, Colin Demasson and Nick Koshman. The pair have been described as brothers, although I have not found any explanation for the differing last names.
Things seemed to be going well for Dylan that summer. He had a steady job and he began dating a young woman, a college student named Erin. As one might expect, there were occasional conflicts among the three young men sharing a house. As Dylan’s relationship with Erin became more serious, she began spending more time at the house, and Colin complained that Dylan should be paying more for rent and utilities. Still, there was no sign of anything seriously wrong with the situation as whole. Nothing that would lead anyone to suspect that Dylan would leave the house and disappear without a trace on a cold night in October. Nothing with the makings of a missing persons case which would, after being re-classified as a homicide case eight years later, cause the lead investigator to state: “It stinks.”
I will be the first to state that the information available on Dylan’s case is sparse. The question hinges on what exactly happened during an approximately three hour period in the early morning hours of October 11th, 2008. This was the Saturday of (Canadian) Thanksgiving Weekend, and there was a party at the rental house. Another Koshman cousin, Cameron, was visiting that night, having been invited by Dylan. Nick Koshman’s girlfriend was also present in the home, although her role, if any, in the sequence of events is unknown. Also unclear is if there were people in the home that night other than the four men, and if so, who they were. Meanwhile, Erin was out with friends, periodically texting Dylan throughout the night. They had tentitive plans for Erin to come over to the house, but she stopped hearing from him by 3:30 am and assumed he was done for the night.
The rest of what we know comes from the combined accounts of Nick, Colin, and Cameron, as well as the subsequent investigation into Dylan’s disappearance. I will start with the account provided by Nick.
According to Nick Koshman, he was home with Dylan and Cameron but Colin was out for much of the evening, arriving home sometime after midnight. Dylan, at least, had been consuming alcohol, and although never expressly stated it seems reasonable to assume that other inhabitants of the house had been as well. Nick overheard Dylan and Cameron discussing how they planned to “fight Colin” when he arrived home, and he sent Colin a text to warn him about this development. Nick did not state why Dylan and Cameron wanted to attack their cousin; many assume that this was the result of the growing tensions over money in the household, but this is not definitive.
Nick’s account continues that Colin arrived home and things took the predicted turn for the physical, with Dylan trying to punch Colin and Colin trying to restrain him. Nick then left the scene to go get something to drink elsewhere in the house, and when he returned, Dylan had left. Colin told him that Dylan had stormed out through the back door.
This brings us to Colin’s own account, which corresponds closely with Nick’s. He says that he told Dylan and Cameron to leave, they fought, and then Colin told Dylan he was kicking him out for good, and to come back later and get his things. Dylan then left, and Colin never saw him again.
The last narrative we have to explore comes from Cameron. He states that Colin did in fact throw Dylan and himself out of the house, and that Cameron went down to the basement to get some of his things, before also leaving through the back door. At 3:30 am, Cameron called 911 to report that Colin had attacked him, and that he was currently hiding from him. During this time, phone records indicate that Dylan’s phone called Cameron’s several times in the span of a minute. Cameron said that because he was trying to call emergency services, he missed the calls from Dylan. At some point during this time, Dylan contacted his brother, Derek, through an instant messaging service on his phone, asking for Derek’s phone number, but Derek was unable to respond at that time. There was no activity on Dylan’s phone after that point.
Cameron was not the only person in contact with emergency services over events in the rental house that night. Two neighbors also called 911 to report a fight taking place, one saying that there was a “man being beaten”. The police did respond to the call, but not until hours later, by which time all was quiet. No one answered when they knocked at the door of the rental house.
Due to the holiday weekend, Dylan’s disappearance flew under the official radar until October 15th, when he failed to show up for work and Erin contacted his brother, Derek. Derek contacted their mother, Melanie, who in turn contacted Colin, as she was unable to make an official missing person report from Moosejaw. However, it did not appear that Colin ever followed through on this request. Erin had been trying to reach Dylan since the weekend, but had only been able to speak to Colin late on Saturday. He told her Dylan wasn’t there and would not allow her to come by and get any of his things. As a result of all these crossed signals, the official search for Dylan was sluggish in getting off the ground. When it did, his wallet and phone were found in a neighbor’s yard. There hasn’t been any activity on Dylan’s bank account since he vanished, or any other sign of him.
During the investigation, Dylan’s friends and family had reckon with the uncomfortable implication that one or more of his own cousins had a role in his disappearance. Colin in particular rubbed a lot of people the wrong way during this time, as he did not join in the searches and at one point made a rather blasé remark that “people went missing all the time in Edmonton” and that it was easy to “hide bodies in construction sites.” Dylan’s mother has stated that it’s painful to admit this possibility, while his father dismisses it, saying he does not believe Colin or Nick were involved.
There are a few lingering questions here, beyond the obvious main one. The first question that I have is Cameron’s 911 call. He said that after the fight with Colin, he had been hiding somewhere outside the house trying to call 911, and that this was the reason that he couldn’t answer Dylan’s calls. Yet, I have not seen any information, anywhere, that these calls went through. We know that neighbors also called the authorities that night, and that they responded (albeit hours later). Yet, the reporting of Cameron’s call makes it sounds as though they never went through, or that Cameron never completed them.
My second question also concerns Cameron’s account. It’s unclear what happened to him for the rest of the night. The temperature was below freezing in Edmonton, so it’s unlikely that Cameron was able to stay outside until morning, meaning that he most likely returned to Colin and Nick’s house or found somewhere else to stay. Yet, this has never been made clear. If he did return to the rental home, the situation had apparently settled to the point where Colin had stopped trying to attack him. Also unclear is where he was hiding and how long he stayed there.
My last question is more general, and it concerns the number and identity of the people in the home that night. We know of five–Dylan, Nick, Nick’s girlfriend, Cameron, and, after midnight, Colin. Yet it’s often stated that there was a “party” taking place that night, and that there was a large group fighting outside the home in the early hours of the morning. Neither of these things mean that there had to be any more than the five people listed–a fight between only a few individuals can easily sound like a larger group–but I do wonder if there were more individuals in the home at some point that night other than those we know about.
There are really only three theories about what happened to Dylan: that he left the scene and perished of exposure (remember, it was below freezing and it seems likely that he had consumed at least some alcohol), that he left the scene and met with foul play at the hands of a stranger, or that he was killed in the home and that one or more of the other residents concealed this fact from his family and authorities. Each of these is completely within the realm of possibility, yet the details of the case are so sparse that there are not a lot of ways to favor one over the others. Nevertheless, each one merits closer examination.
I’m going to include an aerial view of the neighborhood from which Dylan disappeared in the list of sources a the bottom of the page. It appears to be a crowded, residential subdivision with only one entrance (i.e., someone could enter, but would have to turn around and exit from the same point in order to go anywhere else). The neighborhood backs up to what looks like a major road, and on the other side of that road there are parking lots and several stores. There is a school with open athletic grounds just southwest of the neighborhood, and the entire residential section appears to be surrounded by major roadways to the north, east, and west. It is not clear from this image if Dylan could have traveled south without encountering a main thoroughfare, but he most certainly would have had to walk through a well populated subdivision. We know that it was cold, and that Dylan had been drinking and was described as underdressed for the weather. While I think it entirely within the realm of possibility that an intoxicated Dylan left the property, became disoriented, and perished from accident or exposure, I’m less convinced that he would have gotten far enough away that his body has never been discovered.
There is really no way to prove or disprove that Dylan left the house on foot and encountered a nefarious stranger. Certainly, is possible to conceive of a situation in which Dylan was offered a ride by someone, who, for whatever reason, drove him away from the location and later murdered him. Now, I can hear all of you thinking that Dylan Koshman, as an adult man, Dylan does not fit the typical victim profile of someone who gets lured into vans by seedy strangers. By some definitions, this is accurate. While males are more frequently the victims of total violent crimes, this does not hold true for cases involving sexual assault (per The Bureau of Justice statisitcs ). However, we should never read this as it being impossible for men to be victims of sexual assault, because they absolutely can. Additionally, sexual assault is not the only conceivable motive a stranger might target someone walking alone at night. At this point, there is nothing that particularly supports this theory, but it shouldn’t be written off as impossible, either.
This leaves what some people think is the most likely possibility, that Dylan came to harm in the rental house that night, and that at least one of the other people present knows exactly what happened to him. In some ways, this is the simplest explanation. We already know tensions had reached the point of physical violence between the young men, and there was a window of four days in which the perpetuator could have disposed of evidence and concocted an explanation for Dylan’s absence. The only glimpse we have of what was happening at the rental home comes from when the police investigated the noise complaint in the early morning. At the time, there was no activity at the home, and there is no statement indicating if there were even cars present, or any confirmation that anyone was inside the home at the time. If Dylan had been killed in the fight with Colin and/or Nick and/or an unknown third party, and subsequently removed from the property, this had either already happened or would not happen until later in the day. While this rather dark possibility does fit with the known facts, there are still significant details missing from the narrative-namely, who actually knew about Dylan’s fate, how they managed to keep it a secret, and when, where, and how they disposed of Dylan’s body and any other evidence.
I really dislike summarizing cases, as it always feels like I’m repeating information I already wrote. As a consequence, they tend to be kind of abrupt, at least to my mind’s ear. Yet conclusion sections seem to be required, so I’ll just get through this one and then we can all just go make nachos and reflect on matters. While there is room for alternative explanations for what happened to Dylan, and there is no evidence concrete enough to build a criminal case against anyone, it seems like the likeliest scenario is that someone in the house that night–known to be present or not–is the one with the most knowledge and responsibility for his disappearance. I very much doubt it was the result of any premeditation on the culprit’s part. Based on what is known about dynamic between the three housemates and the mood in the house on the night of the disappearance, it seems more likely that a fight spiraled out of control and turned into something more serious. Dylan’s loved ones struggle with the thought that he may have been harmed by his own family members, and as mentioned above, his father has even stated that he does not believe this to be the case. However, I strongly suspect that there is at least one person still alive today that knows what happened, and that this person was present at the rental property on October 11th.