Missing or dead?
Investigator: ‘Discrepancies’ in Cochran statements about Regan’s disappearance
CRYSTAL FALLS — Investigators didn’t know when they first questioned Kelly Cochran and her husband about the disappearance of Christopher Regan whether they were dealing with a missing person or a potential homicide.
Testimony continued Wednesday morning in Cochran’s Iron County murder trial despite a push from defense attorney Michael Scholke to declare a mistrial after court personnel discovered a pending witness had watched trial proceedings via an online live stream.
Judge Richard Celello denied Scholke’s motion, citing freedom of the press. However, he asked both attorneys to instruct their witnesses to not view any media coverage of the case.
Cochran, 34, formerly of Caspian, is accused of helping her now-deceased husband, Jason Cochran, kill the 53-year-old Regan and hide his remains Oct. 14, 2014.
Investigators zeroed in on Cochran and her husband as persons of interest immediately after the Iron River man was reported missing Oct. 27, 2014.
Not only did they know Cochran and Regan were in a dating relationship, but they found a note in Regan’s abandoned vehicle with directions to the Cochran home on Lawrence Street in Caspian.
Recorded police interviews of the Cochrans from Oct. 28, 2014, show neither admitted any involvement in Regan’s disappearance.
Cochran claimed her husband knew about her affairs with Regan and another man and wasn’t bothered by them.
She said she would meet with Regan almost every night and last saw him Oct. 14, 2014, when she brought lasagna and garlic bread to his apartment for dinner. She checked his apartment Oct. 15, 2014, after not hearing from him and then drove by the apartment Oct. 16, 2014, to see both of his vehicles in the parking lot, she told investigators.
A week later, only one vehicle was there, she claimed.
Det./Sgt. Thomas Rajala of the Michigan State Police found discrepancies with her story when compared to surveillance footage obtained from the Holiday gas station and Merit Bank in Iron River.
Although Cochran said she was at Regan’s apartment at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 2014, footage showed a vehicle very similar to her truck driving east on U.S. 2 and away from the apartment at 4:11 p.m. and again at 4:52 p.m. Different footage showed a woman who looked like Cochran walking — not driving — by Regan’s apartment at 1:54 p.m. Oct. 16, 2014.
Rajala also questioned why there was no evidence of the lasagna meal at Regan’s apartment and why Jason Cochran made phone contact with Regan at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 2014.
The Cochrans each had their own phones through late October but got rid of Kelly Cochran’s phone, claiming the move was due to financial hardship, Det./Sgt. Chris Bracket testified.
Jason Cochran said in the recorded police interview he never met Regan but knew where he lived because he once saw Kelly Cochran’s truck there. He also admitted he had been suicidal and stayed at a mental health facility in Rhinelander, Wis.
While Cochran said her husband had considered killing her or himself, she maintained she wasn’t worried for her safety. However, Jason Cochran said he never threatened his wife because he loved her.
Jason Cochran had back problems, kidney problems, a history of cancer and depression, Kelly Cochran said in the recorded interview. She didn’t think Jason Cochran could hurt Regan because of these medical issues and because he didn’t want to hurt her.
Also taking the witness stand Wednesday was the other man Cochran was dating besides Regan, who also worked at Oldenburg in Iron River.
He believed Cochran was married but separated from her husband, and the two were headed for a divorce. Cochran had told him she was fearful of living with her husband because he had become threatening and violent.
The man went over his text message history with Cochran from Oct. 5, 2014, to Oct. 25, 2014. This revealed Cochran claimed she hurt her shoulder in a car accident in early October, asked for her work tools Oct. 10, met with the man to pick up the tools Oct. 12, and had no contact with him Oct. 13 through 15.
When she finally responded to him Oct. 16, she said her phone hadn’t been working.
Cochran faces charges of homicide-open murder, a life felony; conspiracy to commit dead bodies-disinterment and mutilation, a 10-year felony; concealing the death of an individual, a five-year felony; accessory after the fact to a felony, a five-year felony; larceny in a building, a four-year felony; and lying to a peace officer-violent crime investigation, a four-year felony.
She also has a homicide charge out of Indiana for the Feb. 20, 2016 death of Jason Cochran. She reportedly killed her husband as revenge for Regan’s death, court documents state.