UPDATE April 19, 2018: The Chicago Tribune reports Kelly Cochran pleaded guilty Wednesday to her husband’s murder.
Kelly Cochran, 35, entered a plea agreement in Lake Superior Court stemming from the death of her husband, Jason Cochran, 37, two years ago, The Tribune reports
Jason and Kelly Cochran’s parents sat in the courtroom Wednesday morning as Kelly Cochran reviewed and signed her plea agreement with her public defender, Derla Gross. Cochran teared up as she entered her plea.
“I plead guilty, your honor,” she told the judge.
The deal recommends that Cochran be sentenced to 65 years in prison, to be served consecutively to her Michigan conviction. She is scheduled to be sentenced May 16.
“This plea agreement comes rather quickly,” Judge Salvador Vasquez said Wednesday.
Vasquez asked Cochran whether she had enough time to think about her options after being held in jail for only two months.
“Sir, I’ve had plenty of time, plenty of time,” Cochran said.
UPDATE Feb. 21, 2018: Kelly Cochran pleaded not guilty in Lake Superior Court in Indiana Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reports.
A July 9 trial date was set by the judge, and Cochran was ordered to attend a hearing scheduled for April 11.
November 15, 2017:
It all started in October 2014, deep in the woods of northern Michigan. A man disappears just before leaving for a new job.
Cops wonder, did he just up and go without saying goodbye? Did he drown sailing on the lake? Or was he the victim of a possible serial killer?
Crime Watch Daily hits the ground with investigators combing the forest searching for clues. Do the fallen leaves tell the story of what happened to Chris Regan?
Driving through the picturesque countryside of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, you can't help but think you're in the middle of nowhere, and you can't get much more isolated than the tiny town of Iron River.
"Iron River is a small town," said former Iron River Police Chief Laura Frizzo. "Unfortunately I have to label it as kind of a depressed community with a lot of problems. A lot of crime for a small town."
But if you love the outdoors and icy cold winters like Chris Regan did, Iron River is paradise. Regan's old girlfriend Terri O'Donnell lived there.
"Chris and I started dating exclusively," Terri O'Donnell tells Crime Watch Daily. "We had planned a future together, we were planning on living together and moving to another area."
But Terri says there was a problem.
"I think he had just two sides of him," Terri said.
Terri says she discovered Chris's other side when she traveled overseas.
"He decided that he was going to hook up with other women while I was in England," said Terri. "He told me that didn't mean anything, it was just nothing. It was just sex that had nothing to do with his love or our relationship, and I didn't understand that part."
Terri claims Chris's roving eye led to their split. But she says amazingly they still remained friends.
"We talked all the time, we messaged each other all the time," said Terri.
Chris, an Air Force veteran studying for a business degree, decided to stay in Iron River and applied for a job at a local company that makes mining equipment.
"He went in and spoke to them about a job, much to my surprise. That was not the plan," said Terri.
He gets a job there and that's where he meets Kelly Cochran. Kelly Cochran is a friendly young woman who apparently liked to swing both ways.
"Chris wasn't dating Kelly. I think Chris and Kelly hooked up for sex and that was it. He never went anywhere with her, he was never seen in public with her," said Terri.
Maybe that's because Chris's new girlfriend was already married.
"The only place they went was his apartment, and she was not to say anything about them hooking up," said Terri.
Chris Regan rented a small apartment from Terri O'Donnell's parents right above their grocery store. And in the next town over, Kelly Cochran lived in a modest house with her husband Jason. Kelly's younger brother Colton says they recently moved there from Merrillville, Indiana, not far from Chicago. Colton told Crime Watch Daily he doesn't think Jason and Kelly were a good match.
"I actually said before they got married but after they got engaged that they shouldn't get married. They just didn't fit," said Colton Gaboyan. "He was a laid-back guy. She was more of a go-getter."
Colton says Kelly's affair with Chris wasn't her first rodeo. But did Jason know that Kelly and Chris got together four or five times a week?
Former Iron River Police Chief Laura Frizzo knows all the gossip in the small Iron River town of 2,800 people.
"He had said that prior he had not been aware and that he didn't want to know about it," said Laura Frizzo. "Jason was suicidal and was having emotional problems and whatnot, which again seemed to be stemming from her extramarital affairs driving him driving him crazy."
But what was driving Jason's love rival Chris crazy was a bum knee. Even though Chris and Terri were no longer a couple, he kept a sticky note from her reminding him about a doctor's appointment.
"His job at Lake Shore was taking a toll on his knee 'cause he was on his feet all day long at work, and so he needed a job that also wasn't so tough on his body," said Terri O'Donnell.
So Chris Regan found a desk job all the way across the country, in Asheville, North Carolina. He gave his two weeks' notice at the plant where he and Kelly worked, and started packing.
"He texted me that he was going the next day for his physical and drug test and he told me once he got back from that he would get in touch with me, we were going to go out to celebrate his new job in North Carolina," said Terri.
Terri's dreams of moving with Chris to another place had melted like a spring thaw in Michigan.
But did Kelly Cochran think she was the one who would be moving to Asheville with her lover?
"She did make it seem like they had this like lengthy romantic affair and in fact she even made mention that he wanted her to move with him out to North Carolina," said Frizzo.
So on one of Chris's last nights in Iron River, there was a first: Instead of Kelly coming over to his apartment, she invited him over to her house.
"She called Chris and she lured him over there for sex," said Terri. "Why would he go to her house if they had never before been to her house for sex."
Chris Regan had just given his two weeks' notice at work. He was about to meet Kelly Cochran, his secret lover from the office for lasagna and maybe a little fooling around. Regan's friend Terri O'Donnell says she never heard from him after that.
"I got really concerned and started asking people if they had seen him around," said Terri. "And one of the guys that he works with, just assumed that he had left, he just didn't come back to work."
Terri spent nearly two excruciating weeks with no word from Chris. Frantic and in full panic mode, she went to the apartment Chris rented from her parents.
"And I open up the door and the apartment was in shambles, it was a wreck, there was stuff scattered everywhere, there was dirty dishes all crusted in the kitchen sink," said Terri. "There was just red goo in the bottom of his wine glass. The windows were open, the apartment was cool and his medication was all there, I mean he hadn't been there, he was gone. He vanished."
But where, and how? Chris recently had knee surgery, so he couldn't have walked into the wilderness. Somehow his car ended up in a Park and Ride lot four miles east of town.
"And I said he would never leave his car at the Park and Ride, and so I drove out there and sure enough there was Chris's car sitting there, and I looked in and his things were in there," said Terri. "Inside the car was his knee brace, his water bottle. I drove over to the police department to report him as a missing person."
"I saw this woman pull up in front of the police department," said Laura Frizzo. "And I noticed the woman was crying and she turned and looked at me and just kind of stood there sort of crying, like she needed help."
Laura Frizzo was then the police chief of Iron River.
"I asked her who did Chris Regan hang out with, and she did mention to me that she had heard a rumor that he was seeing some married woman at the workplace," said Frizzo. "I called the human-resources director. Sshe also had told me that she heard the rumor that Chris was having an affair with Kelly Cochran.
"We had a difference of opinion," said Frizzo. "The detective that was basically in charge had said over and over again that Chris Regan disappeared because he wanted to. That he either killed himself or just disappeared."
But Frizzo's dogged determination convinced the other detectives. In Chris's car they found a key clue pointing straight to Kelly. On the front passenger seat was a small piece of paper with directions written on it, directions to Kelly Cochran's house.
"My gut is telling me that we need to make contact with this Kelly Cochran," said Frizzo.
Cops and Michigan State Police converge on the house Kelly shared with husband Jason. They aren't exactly greeted with open arms.
"When they arrived there the sergeant said they pulled up out front, and one of the troopers made mention to her that he saw someone standing in an upstairs window looking out. When they went to the door they were greeted by a man, asked if Kelly was home, the man said no, she's not here, and she hasn't done anything wrong," said Frizzo.
Red Flag Number One: Jason lied. Kelly was there. She was the shadowy figure in the upstairs window.
"Shortly thereafter Kelly came down and actually came to the door," said Frizzo. "So Kelly says she hadn't seen Chris for a couple of days, she had no idea where he could be."
Red Flag Number Two: Just a couple of days? At this point it's been more than two weeks since anyone has seen or heard from Chris.
"Well, she didn't go into detail but she did admit they had a romantic relationship going on," said Frizzo. "The sergeant called me and said there's something wrong. She asked Kelly would it be unusual for Chris to have left his vehicle at this Park and Ride. Kelly's response was 'Yes, that would be unusual, he loved that car.' Past tense."
Red Flag Number Three: Referring to Chris Regan in the past tense.
Those red flags were waving in the winds of suspicion. Cops asked Kelly Cochran and her husband Jason to come down to the station for an interview. Jason is in the hot seat first. And instead of talking about Chris, he oddly tells detectives if he sneezes, he can't walk.
Jason Cochran: "I have like back issues. We used to call them 'slipped discs,' now they call them 'bulging and deteriorating discs,' so if I sneeze or move around, a lot of times I can't walk or can't stand up straight for months at a time."
"He's trying to kind of change directions on what the focus is so that maybe they won't look at him as a possible suspect," said Laura Frizzo.
Then it's Kelly's turn. And it's probably a good thing Jason wasn't in the room.
Kelly Cochran: "I love Chris."
She describes in graphic detail the animal passion in her secret love life.
Kelly Cochran: "Well, a lot of times we didn't actually make it to the bedroom."
Detective: "Do you remember where you were the last time?"
Kelly Cochran: "I think it was in the living room."
And then Kelly said something that raised everyone's eyebrows. She claims Chris didn't come over for dinner, even though cops found the directions to her house in his car.
"Her phone records and the communication with Chris Regan indicate that she wasn't at his apartment at that time because they were communicating after that," said Frizzo.
Surveillance video shows Kelly was at Chris's apartment two days after he seemingly vanished. No lasagna. No Chris. And no evidence to connect Kelly and Jason to his disappearance. Soon after, the couple moves back to Indiana.
Chief Frizzo thinks they killed Chris Regan. And she wonders, Could there be hidden clues still lurking in the house where they once lived?
Chris Regan stopped at a gas station to fill his tank on the way to his lover Kelly Cochran's house. Surveillance video footage captures the last known image of him alive.
Former Iron River Police Chief Laura Frizzo says she knows what happened to him: Kelly Cochran and her husband Jason killed him.
"My theory was that these two people are responsible for Chris Regan's disappearance, definitely believed that they murdered him and that they were going to try and get away with it," said Frizzo.
Get away they did, quickly moving out of the house, leaving most everything behind and heading back to Indiana. Frizzo says either of them had a motive for murder. But the chief doesn't have the proof to make a murder charge stick. Not yet.
"When we first went in [the Cochran home] I thought that we hit the jackpot," said Frizzo. "You could see some patterns on the ceiling above the door where you entered the front of the house identical to what it would look like if someone assaulted someone with a weapon and the spray off onto the ceiling.
"We found a loaded .22 pistol under the TV in the living room," said Frizzo.
But without a body it's impossible to determine if that .22 was used to kill Chris. Frizzo was stretched to the limit because her small force was investigating two unrelated homicides. So retired Michigan State Police Sergeant Michael Neiger volunteered his help. And what Neiger found would shift the investigation from a missing person into a murder case.
Neiger conducted a fresh search of Chris's car that was abandoned in the Park and Ride lot.
"We found a lot of fibers, a lot of hair and we found a stocking cap," said Neiger. "And there was a discussion about some leaves being seen trapped in the trunk lid. In other words the trunk lid was closed on leaves and I had heard that and said 'Boy, that's important because we can find out what kind of leaves those are, what kinds of trees, and then we might know where, potentially, where the body was disposed of,' because, you know, it's unusual to have leaves trapped in the trunk."
Unusual because there are no trees outside Chris's apartment. But there are plenty of leafy trees outside Kelly's house. In fact Neiger says he and Frizzo found that the GPS device in Chris's car proves he was at her house the day he went missing. And Neiger says he found something even more incriminating in Kelly Cochran's digital footprint.
"Sometimes people when they are going to commit a crime, they will go and search stuff on Google, like 'How to dispose of a body,'" said Neiger. "The evidence I found on the computers were Google images, satellite imagery of the Caspian Pit."
The Caspian Pit is an abandoned mine pit outside of town filled with deep and murky water. Divers didn't find Chris, but they did find a burn barrel.
"So when they locate this burn barrel in the pit, they note that there's what appears to be a laundry cable wrapped around it or tied to it, as well as a cement block," said Laura Frizzo. "The Cochrans had a burn pit in their back yard, and that burn barrel was missing."
But police did not know for sure if that was the Cochrans' burn barrel, and no DNA evidence was found on the barrel. Still not enough. So Chief Frizzo throws a "Hail Mary." In an unconventional move, Frizzo calls upon the spirit world to help. The chief hired a psychic medium, who, in a Crime Watch Daily exclusive, takes us inside Kelly's house where she says she received visions of violence.
"What I got was on that day that I came here, that he had walked up the steps, got up to the doorway, saw something was amiss, he turned around to leave, and as he was leaving he got hit with something in the back of the neck," said Laurie Stimpson. "I thought it might be a baseball bat, I didn't know if it was a gun or what.
"Laura asked me to walk up the stairs because she wanted me to come into this area, and I didn't need to because I said 'He never even made it there,'" said Stimpson.
But a psychic premonition isn't proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Now the case grows ice-cold. With Kelly and Jason in Indiana, would cops ever find the answers they want? What did Kelly and her husband say to the police when they all of a sudden showed up in Indiana?
"They said they had enough of being harassed by law enforcement over the death of Chris, them investigating them for it," said Kelly's brother Colton.
But Kelly was still up to her old ways. Former police chief Laura Frizzo says Kelly was cheating on Jason, but this time with a woman.
"She had actually asked this woman to be in a serious relationship with her, more meaningful relationship, and the girl said she would," said Frizzo.
Kelly was still married -- but not for long.
Operator: "Lake County 911."
Kelly Cochran: "He's breathing barely. I don't know what's wrong, he's throwing up, he's sweating."
She's about to become a widow. When paramedics arrive, Jason is dead. What is Kelly doing?
"Getting in their way, acting distraught and overacting," said Laura Frizzo.
Kelly Cochran claims her deeply depressed husband overdosed on heroin. But is this habitual liar just talking smack?
Is Kelly Cochran a bisexual black widow? She sensationally claims her husband Jason died from a heroin overdose. But is she telling the truth?
"I just couldn't believe it," said former Iron River Police Chief Laura Frizzo. "I knew that Kelly killed him. I think that she killed her husband because he was probably a liability for her. She was concerned that he was going to end up talking about things and she was gonna get in trouble."
Things like the unsolved disappearance of her lover Chris Regan in Iron River, Michigan. Now the suspicious death of Kelly's husband gives Chief Frizzo a fresh opportunity to get Kelly to talk about Chris. The chief asks Hobart, Indiana Police Detective Jeremy Ogden to speak to her.
"Right from the get-go there was some kind of very strange, like, attraction or connection that she had to him, or whatever it was, but she singled him out," said Frizzo.
That attraction seemed to surface in a cat-and-mouse game of texts between Kelly and Detective Ogden.
"He was able to get her to believe he was sympathetic towards her, and he believed her, and he won her over," said Frizzo.
But Ogden isn't able to nab her yet. Kelly had fled to Kentucky. U.S. Marshals picked her up and while in the local jail, she fashioned "shank"-type knives out of eyeglasses.
"She made a comment that she was gonna stab the female corrections officer, but changed her mind," said Frizzo.
In the interrogation room Kelly says she'll make a deal to talk in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
"Today I'm here to cooperate, however I will not cooperate if there's any charges brought to me," Kelly Cochran says. "I've seen how easy it is for you to get a search warrant. I see how it is for you pretty much to go through anything of people's so, um, I think you can arrange something like that for me."
No way would cops ever cut a deal like that, so Kelly shuts her mouth. Now Chief Frizzo uses her new tool to pry it wide open: Det. Jeremy Ogden.
"She was so attached to him, because he actually was able to do to her what she does to everyone else, and that is kind of trick her and manipulate her," said Frizzo.
So Ogden sets an almost unbelievable trap. He asks a friend of Jason's to make up a story that will freak Kelly out.
"His idea was, you know, I want you to make this phone call to Kelly and I want you to tell her that you received in the mail this letter from Jason, and in this letter there's a note that says 'If something should happen to me, please mail this letter to the Iron River Police Department,'" said Frizzo. "She fell for it, and her initial responses were huge. She broke down and started crying, saying 'Please don't mail it.'"
So the setup worked?
"It did, and that enabled him, Detective Ogden, to move into the hundreds of hours of interviews he did with her," said Frizzo.
Kelly Cochran: "I've had two men die in my arms in two years."
Det. Ogden: "I know that."
Emotional, holding hands with the detective, Kelly finally comes clean about what happened to Jason.
"That she had shot him up with a large dose of heroin to kind of subdue him a little bit, and she just put her hands over his nose and mouth and suffocated him," said Frizzo.
Then comes the moment Chief Frizzo has been waiting nearly two years to hear.
Detective: "You watched him die. Right? Look at me. Where did he shoot him in his body?"
Kelly Cochran: "Head."
Detective: "In his head?"
Kelly says as she and Chris were still in a sexual embrace at the top of the stairs, Jason was lying in wait, his .22 rifle aimed straight at Chris's head. The bullet tears through his skull. Death came in an instant.
Kelly then reveals the horrible way they disposed of Chris's body.
Detective: "Tell me what happened."
Kelly Cochran: "Downsized him."
Kelly Cochran: "Downsized him."
Detective: "Downsized him. How did he downsize him?"
Kelly Cochran: "Do you need to know all of it?"
Detective: "I do. I need to know it all. How did he cut him into pieces?"
Kelly Cochran: "With a chisel."
Detective: "A what?"
Kelly Cochran: "A chisel. Like a big chisel, you know what I mean?"
Detective: "A big chisel. A big wood chisel? Well that doesn't make any sense though."
Kelly shifts her story and says Jason used an electric handsaw to chop him into pieces.
Detective: "So he completely dismembered Chris in the basement? Did you watch him?"
Kelly Cochran: "No, I couldn't. I got sick."
Detective: "You got sick. You threw up."
Kelly Cochran: "Yeah."
Kelly says they cut Chris up on plastic wrapping. They burned the plastic and the saw blade in a burn barrel and dumped the barrel in the mine pit. Then Jason drove Chris's car to the Park and Ride and they scattered his mutilated body in the woods.
Kelly Cochran: "He put him by the trees."
Detective: "And how did he take him there? With what? What did he do? Put him in the truck?"
Kelly Cochran: "Like a wheelbarrow."
The confession is complete. Kelly asks to smoke a last cigarette before she's taken to a cell. And while Det. Ogden is out of the room, she bizarrely falls out of her chair. Is she high, or just tired? Cops aren't sure. Later the admitted killer is put into handcuffs, facing two counts of murder in two different states.
No one still knows where the remains of Chris Regan are -- except Kelly Cochran.
Kelly Cochran says she killed Chris Regan for love and killed her husband Jason for revenge. She said he was looking at her as she was killing him.
"It didn't take long for him to stop breathing, she basically said within a minute," said former Iron River Police Chief Laura Frizzo.
In a strange way, Kelly and Jason's diabolical plot to kill Chris was hatched 12 years earlier in a pact made in blood.
"When they got married they made this pact that if one of them were to have an affair, that they had to kill the person that they had the affair with," said Iron County Prosecuting Attorney Melissa Powell.
There's no dispute that Kelly Cochran is a serial cheater. But is she also a serial killer?
Does Laura Frizzo believe that Kelly is a serial killer?
"Yes," said Frizzo. "There were times when she listed as many as 21 people."
Do you believe that?
"No. More realistically, probably five," said Frizzo.
In a recorded jailhouse phone call with her mother, Kelly hints that there are bodies out there just waiting to be found.
Kelly Cochran: "You didn't see this coming?"
Kelly's mother: "No, I seen this coming after it all happened, but I didn't know that you guys killed people before all this."
But cops don't know if Kelly is even telling the truth, and they've never found the so-called "trinket bag" that many serial killers keep.
Now Kelly Cochran, caged in a windowed cell, is about to do one final good deed -- a deed that hardly makes up for a life of deadly decisions.
Kelly tells police she wants to give Chris a proper burial, so she takes cops on a wild field trip back to the scene of the crime. They arrive at the spot in the woods where Kelly remembers dumping Chris's remains.
Amazingly the murder house is exactly the way Kelly and Jason left it after bolting for Indiana. In the cluttered kitchen cops find a pair of forceps. Kelly says she used them to try and remove the bullet from Chris's skull.
Kelly's memories of her evil act were accurate. In the field cops found Chris's glasses, and then, there it is, out in the open: Chris's skull with a big bullet hole.
At her murder trial Kelly Cochran pins the horrific crime on Jason, describing in gory detail what happened.
"When he cut him up, he had one of his hands and said that was the last time he would be waving at me. He was waving goodbye to me," Kelly testifies.
And then prosecutor Melissa Powell painted a powerful and chilling image for the jury. It was enough to convict Kelly of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Crime Watch Daily wanted to talk to Kelly Cochran ourselves. She asked our producer to meet with her in prison, and in our face-to-face meeting, she agreed to speak. But then she abruptly canceled our scheduled phone interview, hanging up the phone.
The hero of this investigation is former police chief Laura Frizzo, who in an odd way got caught up in Kelly's deadly love triangle -- but with a good outcome. She's now dating Detective Jeremy Ogden, who can't speak since he is still investigating the killing of Kelly's husband Jason.
But there is one woman whose hopes for "happily ever after" were snuffed out with the senseless murder of Chris Regan: his ex-girlfriend Terri O'Donnell.
"He's gone," said Terri. "We never had that opportunity to see if we could rebuild things or not. Kelly took that away."
Kelly Cochran still faces that murder charge for the death of her husband -- however no court date has been set at this time.
As for those other potential victims, police have not released any more information at this time.