The Murder of Lindsay Buziak

Jason Zailo’s alibi witness – Cohen Oatman


Jason Zailo needed an alibi witness to accompany him to the 1702 DeSousa property that fateful night of February 2/2008.

Choosing the perfect alibi witness was critical to making sure everything went like clockwork that night. The alibi witness Cohen was always seen as somewhat of an enigma, but when you really look deep the guy is no mystery.

The entire plan was artfully designed and the planners didn’t miss a beat. Jason’s late lunch with Lindsay at Sauce was the first step in creating a timeline that would mold the framework for the perfect alibi. The next step in the plan was the arrival and departure at the SHC Autographx location. The time of Jason’s arrival at SHC has never been made public but we do know that he left the SHC property at 5:29 that evening. Jason’s departure was captured on video surveillance cameras which belonged to the business next door, evidence supports that the SHC cameras were not operational that day.

The next stage of planning kicks into gear when Jason makes a call to his brother to ask him for directions to the DeSousa property. This creates the premise that Jason had never been to the DeSousa property before. However, the property had been on and off the market for nearly a year and the last six months it had been listed with Jason’s own Re/Max Westshore office. Are we supposed to buy into the story that Jason the realtor had never been to the house, didn’t know where it was – or how to get there? Now we have the 5:45 arrival at the DeSousa property with the alibi witness sitting in the front passenger seat.

Jason Zailo had an array of friends he could have asked to accompany him that evening but he chose Cohen Oatman. Why? It is well known Jason thought Cohen was a goof and for that reason the two did not hang out together. At the time of Lindsay’s murder Jason and Cohen were working at Terry Martin’s Mortgage Centre located at the Royal Oak Shopping Centre at 3989 Quadra Street in Victoria. They joined that office in November 2007, following in the footsteps of their friend Greg Martel who joined that office in the spring of that same year. Jason sold Cohen Oatman his home at 3177 Monnington Place in Victoria in February 2007. At that time and right up until 2012 Jason held both a realtors license and a broker’s license.

Police file documents obtained by Capital News Daily shows that Jason Zailo got a call from Cohen Oatman on the day of the murder.

Cohen and Zailo had plans to meet for dinner – Cohen’s cell phone battery had died and he called Jason from a pay phone in town. The two decided to go to the Gordon Head house together to wait for Buziak before continuing on with their plans. Oatman drove to the SHC parking lot, left his vehicle there and got into Zailo’s 2005 Range Rover. Security footage showed them leaving SHC at 5:30 pm. It is not clear why Cohen was downtown when he made the call to Jason. The Terry Martin Mortgage office where he worked was a 14-minute drive away and his residence on Monnington Place was 20 minutes away.

The way the police file documents read this was a spur of the moment decision for Cohen to meet up with Jason at SHC Autographx. This is most interesting because it was the day before that Jason contacted Cohen and asked him to go out for dinner with him on the Saturday night. So Jason had already put the plan in motion on the Friday. Cohen tells the story that at first he said no to Jason but then changed his mind and agree to go. He said he would have preferred to stay home with his family because later that evening he had a 10:00 hockey game.

However, people close to Cohen refuse to buy into that story. They say that Cohen wanted desperately to be part of Jason’s crowd and would have done anything to make that happen. The friends say Jason and others thought Cohen was a whiny, scheming, little creature who did nothing but complain – they didn’t really want him around. If this is true it would certainly explain why Jason chose Cohen to be his alibi witness. He knew the guy would bend over backwards to please, and would back him up later if needed. Even Cohen’s friend Greg Martel pulled away from him. Having said that everyone knows that Greg Martel was a shady broker who shafted a lot of people, and many of them filed civil actions against him. In time shady Greg packed up, moved to California and set up shop there.

The reality is Cohen was not like Greg Martel and Jason Zailo. Cohen was a honest hard-working family man and it was a blessing that he did not fall in with shady characters like Greg and Jason.

Cohen and Greg Martel played for the Stingers hockey team – Jason played for the Oilers. The night before (Friday) the Stingers and Oilers played against each other. On the Saturday evening Cohen had a scheduled game at Pearkes arena. There is one story that says Jason had a scrub game that night whereas another story says Jason agreed to be an extra player for the Stingers that night. The hockey schedule shows that the Oilers were not scheduled to play on the Saturday night. The question is, did Jason really need to play for the Stingers that evening or was there something else going on that night? So many things just make no sense.

http://www.victoriahockeyleague.com/leagues/schedules.cfm?leagueID=7179&clientID=2838

We know for certain that Jason called his brother to ask for directions after leaving DeSousa. (Ryan’s account) What we do not know is what Jason said to his brother during that phone conversation. Was he really asking for directions or was there another reason for Jason’s call to his brother? Cohen is the only other person that knows what Jason said during that call and he is not talking. Even if Cohen did hear Jason ask for directions, there could have been an ulterior motive for that call. I am sure Cohen shared what he knew with the Saanich Police but from what I have heard Cohen was not prepared to tell Lindsay’s dad about anything about what went on that evening. Here we are 13 years later and this guy is still not talking.

We know that on the night of the murder Jason and Cohen were both taken to the police station for questioning. The end result was that both men told the same story about what transpired at the DeSousa house that evening. It is not surprising that their account of what happened that evening would be the same but it still leaves many unanswered questions in regards to Cohen Oatman. Did Jason tell Cohen Oatman why he had to stop at SHC prior to going to the DeSousa property? Originally Jason told the Saanich Police that he was going there because he had real estate documents for Lindsay to sign. Is that the same story Jason told Cohen? Remember, years later we found out that Jason had lied to the police, that there were no documents that Lindsay needed to sign that night. He admitted he was going there because she was concerned about being alone. If that was the case why was he 15 minutes late arriving at the DeSousa house, and why did he sit around for another 20 minutes when he got there?

Originally Jason told the police and millions of viewers on Dateline NBC Dream House Mystery that when he pulled up to the DeSousa house he saw two people through the frosted glass window in the front door. The Saanich Police confirmed that Jason and Cohen’s story about what happened at the house was the same, so we have to assume that is the same story Cohen gave the police. Later though on a podcast and a media statement Detective Chris Horsley said that Jason actually saw the man just outside the front door and that when Jason pulled into the cul-de-sac the man quickly turned and went back inside the house. A good reason for Jason to have changed his story is so that he could tell the police, which he did, “I saw the guy standing outside so I thought the showing was just starting”. Jason knew Lindsay was at the house at 5:30 because he talked to her at that time. Hardly likely that Lindsay stood outside in the cold for 15 minutes before going into the house.

We know that Jason and Cohen gave the same story to the police when they were taken in for questioning the night of the murder so that means that what Cohen saw as they turned into the cul-de-sac at 5:45 was 2 shadows through the frosted glass in the door. It would be nice to know why Cohen jumped over the fence instead of Jason. It would be nice to know if Cohen noticed the missing boards in the fence. It would be nice to know what was said during the drive up to DeSousa. It would be nice to know why Cohen didn’t find it suspicious that Jason did not want to go into the house when he arrived – and why Jason chose to park in one spot for 10 minutes and then move out onto Torquay for another 10 minutes. What the hell were they doing in Jason’s Land Rover for those 20 minutes. Clearly they didn’t have a care in the world about Lindsay who had asked Jason to be there at 5:30 because she was nervous about being alone.

WHY IS COHEN OATMAN STILL WORKING IN JASON’S MODERN MORTGAGE GROUP OFFICE TODAY?

After Lindsay’s murder Cohen floundered around moving from one mortgage office to another. At one point he was working for Verico Select Mortgages, then moved on to the Mortgage Alliance Lending Centre on Brookside Road. The guy just couldn’t settle down and just maybe he was suffering from PTSD. God knows what witnessing a crime scene like Cohen did could do to a person’s mind.

Cohen’s good friend Greg Martel opened his new Harborview Mortgage Centre at 510 Yates Street in downtown Victoria in November 2011. About a year later Cohen jumped aboard and went to work for Greg. He worked there for a few years but in time him and Greg had a falling out and Cohen made the decision to leave Harborview Mortgage Centre to go and work elsewhere. Greg was actually in Cohen Oatman’s wedding party when Cohen married in 2005. Then there is the friendship between Greg and Jason Zailo which did not pass the test of time either. Greg is the guy in the picture with Lindsay and Jason with Jason holding the knife. Their friendship lasted for a few years after Lindsay’s murder then they were done. Greg Martel is privy to information that could be critical to this investigation and I have to wonder if the Saanich Police ever questioned this shady character.

I think we can all understand Cohen’s silence those first few years after Lindsay’s murder but after 13 years it is no longer acceptable. There is a good chance that after Lindsay’s murder Cohen was instructed by the Saanich Police to not speak with anyone about what went on at the DeSousa house that night, or what was said between him and Jason. While Cohen may have had the best intentions by keeping his silence it has done nothing to further the investigation into Lindsay’s murder. Therefore, there is no reason for Cohen not to come forward and share everything with Lindsay’s father.

What I am more shocked by than anything right now is the fact that three years ago Cohen decided to go and work in Jason Zailo’s Modern Mortgage Group office at Uptown Centre and his mortgage broker’s license still hangs there today. After everything that has happened over the years does Cohen still believe in Jason’s innocence? Does he think that Jason was a victim of circumstance? Does he think that all Jason’s actions/behavior the night of the murder and the days leading up to the murder were normal?

Cohen Oatman’s decision to work in Jason’s office could be considered a slap in the face to Lindsay and her family but the question here is, did Cohen really have a choice? Apparently he approached several other brokerage firms hoping to get hired on, but not one wanted him working in their office. Why not, because his name was all over social media and connected to Jason Zailo. If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, then it is very sad indeed. What does this tell us? It tells us that if Jason Zailo’s mother hadn’t bought Jason his own Dominion Lending franchise he would not have a job today. If Cohen had trouble getting hired you can be damn sure Jason wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Perhaps the Saanich Police should check to see if Cohen Oatman has been paying desk/office fees these past few years while working in Jason’s office – or has Cohen been treated differently than the other brokers working for Jason? It seems to me Jason should have let the poor guy work there for free, after it, Jason is the reason Cohen’s life will never be the same.

HOW MUCH DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO PAY FOR SILENCE THESE DAYS?

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