|Letter from Percy Sargent
|There was complete silence after the state dismissed the arson/murder
indictments against Roger Johnson, William Meyers, and Richard Sargent. I had
lost all hope in Mike's murder being solved under Shuman's supervision. But
unbeknown to me Shuman was working on something other than Mike's murder that would come to light
One day in April of 1986, I was taking several pieces of mail from my mail box when a letter fell to the ground. I picked it up and saw the name Percy Sargent with a Maine State Prison return address. I absolutely couldn’t believe it.
I hurried inside the house anxious to open the envelope and find out why Percy Sargent—This man Det. Ralph Pinkham had told me sent a call to have Mike "taken care of" —was writing to me. I had also clipped a small article from the Bangor Daily News that said he had been sentenced to prison in March of 1981 for raping an Ellsworth woman who was treated overnight at a Bangor hospital. It said he could have been sentenced to the maximum penalty of 20 years but was sentenced to eight years.
Murderers turning on each other
From Percy's letter, I learned that the men who murdered Mike were turning on each other. His letter said that new events may be coming up in Mike's death. He said that Paul Pollard was a new suspect and that Pollard will testify against his half-brother Lionel Cormier and that Cormier is willing to testify against Pollard. He said they would testify against each other to have robbery charges dropped.
Apparently, Percy was willing to turn on Pollard and Cormier because he said there was much more he could tell me. Derry decided to connect a tape recorder to my phone before we contacted the prison to let Percy know that we were willing to speak with him. We were told that they would give Percy a message and that he had to call collect. Shortly after our message to Percy he called. I spoke with Percy first and a day or so later Derry spoke with Percy. Carl "Bucky" Buchanan, Richard's private investigator had his daughter, Sue, transcribe the conversations.
During my conversation with Percy he said that "those two guys, (Cormier and Pollard) they did something dirty that night. But what he told Derry was very interesting. He said Cormier and Pollard were at his family’s home, and then “They went back out to Lucerne; tried to make like they’d—he’s called Lionel Cormier up or something to come out there and pick him up.”
This was the first time we had heard that Pollard and Cormier were at Sargent’s mother’s home before Pollard's call to Cormier and then went back to Lucerne to stage a call. Percy also told Derry that Mike was shot. That would be the reason why Mike was on the floor before the fire was set as Fire Inspector Ryan had told me.
In CME Ryan’s letter he said, “Portions of the head were severely burned and absent.” Was that caused from a gunshot?
Percy told Derry "They’ve never asked me one question about that fire. I’ve never been—not one investigator has ever asked me one question about what happened that night; and I sat in that county jail right after the fire, for four or five days waiting bail, and not one cop ever questioned me or anything, ’cause they didn’t give a #*&#, you know?” He also told Derry "[Y]ou want to be sure to tell Thomas Goodwin that not one person has ever asked me about this whole case, you know; no DA, no cop, nothing.” Regardless, neither Shuman, Pinkham nor assistant AG Goodwin ever spoke with Percy.
I felt confident that this information was something Shuman could use in his arson/murder investigation. The men Pinkham had told me were involved in Mike's murder were turning on each other. Shuman said no one would talk. Well, one of the murderers were talking now. Surely this was important information.
But neither Homicide Detective Shuman nor Assistant AG Thomas Goodwin were interested in Percy Sargent’s letter or the taped conversations Derry and I had with him. Shuman's response about Percy’s letter was how did he know that it was actually Percy who wrote the letter. I still have the envelope with the return address and the postmark. And he claimed the audio tapes were doctored.
Percy Sargent's information about armed robberies materializes
July of 1986, three months after our contact from Percy Sargent, Marshal Stern, Mike's attorney, was back in the courtroom trying to defend his client, Richard Sargent, against testimony from Shuman and Pollard concerning Richard committing a five-year-old armed robbery. The armed robberies had become Shuman’s (the lead detective on Mike's murder) priority. I had felt his coldness toward me, but I didn't realize how dishonest he was, but I would soon find out.
The evening of July 9, 1986, I received a call from Attorney Stern. He said he thought I might be interested in a trial scheduled to begin in Penobscot County Superior Court the next morning and the person who would be testifying - Paul Pollard.
I assumed the trial Stern said was happening the next morning was what Percy Sargent told Derry and I about in April. He said, “... I’m going to court there this year sometime on this whole thing. This Paul Pollard’s implicated myself, my brother (Richard Sargent), and his brother (Lionel Cormier) in a robbery.”
I thought at last I would get a look at the last person who was in the cottage with my son the night he was murdered and was seen fleeing into the woods away from the murder scene. I was also hoping to get a chance to speak with him.
Since Pinkham had told me about Pollard more than five years earlier, I had wondered where this mysterious fleeing man was. Pinkham and Shuman had told me that they had no idea where he was and had no reason to locate him because he wasn’t a suspect in Mike’s murder and that he would also have lost his life if he hadn’t escaped.
Shortly before the trial started, I met Richard Sargent. I had had such a strong hatred toward him. I especially hated him when I saw him on the local news with a big smile on his face after his arrest for Mike’s murder. I had also been upset with him when he dared to contact Derry to say he wasn’t guilty of Mike’s murder. He, like his brother Percy, told Derry and that Paul Pollard and Lionel Cormier had killed Mike. I didn’t believe him at that time. I believed in the state’s arson/murder case against him and the other two men regardless of the cruel treatment I had received from the State of Maine law officials. While talking with Derry, Richard didn’t implicate his brother, Percy, at that time, but he later wrote me a letter saying Percy sent the call to have Mike take care of.
While talking with Richard he claimed that the state police had tried to frame him for Mike’s murder; and now Shuman and Pinkham were out to get him because his attorney had gotten the arson/murder indictment against him dismissed. Richard also said that he reported to the authorities that the unidentified body found under the week-old pile of fire rubble was Mike. Richard said he knew this because the morning of Feb. 18 Cormier and Pollard arrived at his mother's residence. He said Cormier told him that a body would be found in a fire in Dedham and that Cormier also told his sister and mother that morning that a body would be found in a fire in Dedham. Richard said Pollard had no color in his face; he was as white as snow. He said he was confident that they were not going to be able to find him guilty on the testimony of Paul Pollard, a murderer. Percy had also told Derry that Pollard and Cormier were at his mother home the morning of Mike’s murder.
July 1986 armed robbery trial
Roger Johnson and William Meyers, also indicted for Mike's murder, arrived at the courthouse on the second day of Richard Sargent’s trial. Before the trial started I sat in the courtroom talking with Johnson and Sargent. Meyers mostly sat quietly listening to us. Here I sat with the three men that I had so feared and strongly believed had taken my son’s life. The men told me that Maine State Police Detective Shuman had tried to frame them for Mike’s murder.
I told Johnson that I would never forget how terrified he looked the day (December 7, 1985) he was led out of the courtroom in hand cuffs and leg chains after his arraignment in Penobscot Superior Court. He said he had never been so scared before in his life.
Men accused of arson/murder offer discovery documents
Johnson offered to give me his discovery documents that his attorney had given him when he was arrested for Mike's murder, if I wanted to come to his home and pick them up. “Maybe you can do more with them than I can,” he said. I thanked him and told him I would love to have the documents. He gave me his phone number and directions to his home in Winterport, about 23 miles south of Bangor, and asked me to call when I was ready to come get the documents.
Richard said he had taped conversations between himself and Lionel Cormier during the time Cormier was in the Penobscot County Jail waiting for his robbery trial that he could give me. He said his attorney, Marshal Stern, still had most of his documents, but he could give me what he had if I wanted to copy them. He said he lived in Poland, Maine, located about 118 miles south of Bangor, and said he could bring the material as far as Augusta (68 miles south) if I wanted to come there to pick them up. I asked him also to give me his phone number and I would call him and let him know when I could meet him to pick up the documents.
Shortly, after the trial was over I contacted Roger Johnson. He had a large manila envelope filled with documents ready for me when I arrived. I was anxious to read the documents and as soon as I got home, I spread the documents out on my bedroom floor and sat down to sort them out. There was a wealth of information and so much to absorb. I first divided the documents by years. The Maine State police 1981 arson-murder investigation. It included Wilbur Ricker’s 1981 fire Marshal reports; MSP Allen Jamison 1981 fire marshal report; Det. Shuman's arson/murder investigation with statements; Det. Ralph Pinkham's arson/murder investigation with statements and many other reports: autopsy, death certificate, and lab reports. There was also the 1984 Maine State Police arson/murder investigation. It included informant Sharon Sargent's 1983 interview with the Bangor Police, Shuman and Pinkham's 1984 interview at the Bangor PD and Sheriff Carl Andrew's 1984 interview with Sharon while she was incarcerated at Andrew's jail. There was also an interview with another police informant and interviews of the three men after they were jailed for Mike's murder. Detectives Shuman and Pinkham's 1981 statements ended on March 11, two weeks of statements in their words of what was told to them. Percy Sargent and Lionel Cormier were never interviewed.
| Fire Inspector Wilbur Ricker's 2/18/81–2/24/81
MSP Cpl. Allen Jamison's 2/18/81--2/24/81 Fire Report
MSP Det. Barry Shuman 2/24--3/11/81 Homicide-Investigation
MSP Det. Barry Shuman 2/24--3/11/81 statements
MSP Det. Ralph Pinkham 2/24 3/11/81 Homicide Investigation
MSP Det. Ralph Pinkham 2/24--3/11/81 statements
It was a beautiful and warm evening sometime the last of July 1986
when I drove the eighty miles to Augusta to meet Richard Sargent near the old
Zayre store in a small shopping center parking lot. Richard wasn’t there when I
arrived, but he and his girlfriend arrived shortly afterward in a small red
A lot of the documents Richard gave me were copies of documents Roger Johnson had already given me. But he had five taped conversations that he had recorded of himself and Cormier talking about Mike's murder while Cormier was incarcerated at the Penobscot County Jail waiting for his armed robbery trial to start and Richard was out on bail. The dates of the recorded conversations were
February 20, 1986;
April 8, 1986;
April 14, 1986:
May 6, 1986;
June 4, 1986;
June (?) 1986;
Richard Sargent's many documents
There was the recorded interview Richard Sargent’s attorney, Marshal Stern, had with Sharon Sargent in his office in February of 1985. It was at this time that Sharon had gone to Stern’s office to admit that she had committed perjury. There were two interviews Shuman had taken after Sharon stopped cooperating with him and he realized that his arson/murder case against Richard Sargent, Roger Johnson, and William Meyers was falling apart. One was the Feb. 12, 1985 Worcester, Mass. PD Shuman/Pollard 6-page statement. The second one is an excerpt from Smith's 30-page recorded interview Shuman and Penobscot County DA Christopher Almy had with Robert Smith on December 30, 1985.
Robert Smith helped Lionel Cormier, and Paul Pollard carry out the second armed robbery on Charles Dolan that occurred on March 27, 1981, one month after Percy, Pollard and Cormier killed Mike, nearly five years previous.
The Smith interview was taken ten months after the Shuman/Pollard’s Feb. 1985 Massachusetts statement.
After returning home, I contacted PI Bucky Buchanan and told him about the documents and the recorded conversations Richard had given me. I told him that Richard had recorded the conversations while he and Cormier discussed Mike’s murder. (According to Richard, Cormier didn’t know he was recording their conversations.) Buchanan said to bring the cassettes to his office and his daughter, Sue, would transcribe the tapes for me during her free time.
At a later date, Richard gave me FBI reports concerning the Maine State Police having affairs with female informants and coercing them to lie in court. He also gave me many court transcripts concerning the 1986 armed robbery trials. Included in Richard Sargent's and Roger Johnson's discovery documents were two 1984 interviews Shuman and Pinkham had conducted with two informants, Sharon Sargent and David Harriman, before the three men were indicted for arson-murder. For some unknown reason they didn't use Harriman's information. Sharon Sargent was the only witness the state used against the three men. The interviews were transcribed not typed statements as in 1981.
There were also the Dec. 5, 1984 interviews Shuman had with Richard Sargent, Roger Johnson and William Myers, the day the three men were indicted for Mike's murder. Shuman talks about the Dolan robberies in his interviews months before his Feb. 12, 1985 visit to see Paul Pollard.
There was one statement from Percy and Richard Sargent’s sister, Linda Sargent Harriman, at her residence and it was in Shuman’s words of what Linda told him.
Not one of the sixteen individuals that Shuman and Pinkham took statements from in 1981 were questioned when Richard Sargent, Roger Johnson and William Myers were indicted. Neither was Fire Marshal Wilbur Ricker, Cpl. Allen Jamison or Fire Chief Norman Herrin contacted. The only information the state used was from a drug addict with a criminal past.
Penobscot County DA Almy using dangerous criminal to catch drug traffickers.
August 12, 1986, two weeks before Lionel Cormier's armed robbery trial there was an article in the Bangor Daily by A. Jay Higgins with the heading "Case of Criminal as Informant Sours." And on the same day there was another article by Higgins with the heading "Attorney Questions Value of Using Cooperating Crooks." On the 14th there was a Bangor Daily News Editorial with the heading "Miscarriage of Justice." that said when Penobscot County District Attorney Christopher Almy "calls placing the public at risk 'a small trade-off' for getting a [drug] conviction he is wrong."
August 1986 armed robbery trial
Nearly seven weeks after Richard’s trial ended, Lionel Cormier went on trial at the Penobscot County Superior Courthouse for both the November 26, 1980 and the March 27, 1981 armed robbery (perpetrated by Lionel Cormier, Paul Pollard and Robert Smith). Cormier was also charged with aggravated assault for the brutal beating he gave Dolan and cutting off his ear.
I was at the Penobscot County Superior Courthouse early that morning. As I entered the second floor of the courthouse, I could see that there was heavy security. There were Sheriff’s deputies stationed outside the courtroom that were stopping everyone and searching them before they were allowed into the courtroom. As I took my seat in the courtroom, I saw two more deputies sitting behind Cormier.
The news reported that Paul Guerin, court security officer, said the trial was being conducted under very tight security and that Cormier was being kept at the Penobscot County Jail under total isolation. “We feel he’s a security risk and he might escape or somebody might help him to escape,” said Guerin. “We have reliable information saying so.”
When Marshal Stern called me and said Paul Pollard would be testifying the next morning at the Superior Courthouse, I was hoping to get a chance to speak with Paul Pollard. He was the last person with my son the night he was murdered. But Shuman made sure I didn’t get that chance. And he never once acknowledged me while I attended the July and August trials, but I knew that he knew I was there. I wondered if it bothered him that I was there learning things about Paul Pollard?
After what I’d heard in court about Pollard carrying a Smith and Wesson .357 gun on him the night Mike was murdered and shooting into somebody’s house and having in his possession some stolen firearms and dynamite, I would be apprehensive about approaching him anyhow. He sounded like a dangerous man.
As I sat in the courtroom listening to testimony my mind went back over the way I had been treated by Maine State Police Detectives Shuman and Pinkham and Maine Assistant AG Thomas Goodwin. Now more than ever their stories didn’t ring true. These men were protecting Paul Pollard—but I didn’t know why.
I had collected many documents after Richard's July trial was over along with Roger Johnson and Richard Sargent's documents. In several of the documents there were references to Mike being shot. I decided to contact CME Dr. Henry Ryan to ask if Mike could have been shot. The August trial was not over when I wrote to Ryan.
His letter in July of 1981 said if I had further questions to “contact us.” But in this contact, I was told any other questions concerning Mike's death would have to be approved by Maine Deputy AG Fern LaRochelle, head of the Criminal Division. I immediately wrote Deputy AG LaRochelle asking him to allow CME Dr. Ryan to answer my question as to whether a gunshot could have caused most (the back, sides and back half of the skull to be missing.) of Mike’s head to be missing. When LaRochelle did not respond to my letter I contacted Dr. Ryan again making him aware of this. Dr. Ryan wrote me a letter and included a copy of a letter he had sent to Maine Attorney General Deputy AG LaRochelle on August 27, 1986.
Deputy AG Fern LaRochelle did not respond to Dr. Ryan’s letter. In September, I called Dr. Ryan to tell him I had not heard from LaRochelle. Ryan sent LaRochelle a reminder letter. I never got a response from LaRochelle. He completely ignored my request for an answer to whether my son could have been shot before the fire was set.
In the meantime I learned that a new detective had been assigned Mike's case. I had asked the state to please assign another investigator to Mike’s case and was very hopeful when I learned that Det. Matthew Stewart was assigned Mike’s case. But when I was told that Shuman was Stewart’s supervisor and his investigation of Mike’s murder would be conducted under Shuman’s direction, I lost all hope. I knew Shuman had no interest in looking at anyone other than Richard Sargent, Roger Johnson, and William Meyers—especially Richard Sargent. I wrote Captain Raymond LaMontagne to let him know how I felt about Det. Shuman supervising Mike’s murder investigation. Shuman had been the lead detective on Mike’s murder case since 1981 and now after more than five years with nothing but a bungled case they were going to assign another investigator with Shuman supervising it. I received no response from Captain LaMontagner.
July of 1988, was six years and five months since Mike’s brutal murder and the Maine State Police and the AG’s office continued to snub me. They would not respond to anything I asked about my son’s murder. But I gave it another try and contacted Dr. Ryan again. I received a response from Dr. Ryan saying he had prepared a reply to my letter and sent it to Assistant AG Fern LaRochelle asking him to respond to me. Ryan's letter from LaRochelle said the identification was initially from the police suspecting it was Mike and he had no idea if the word "positive" was ever used. LaRochelle letter to me with Ryan's letter didn't say much.
I search for information on Paul Pollard
I went home after the trial with a strong determination to find out more about Paul Pollard. Who was this short, fat outlaw who I now believed Homicide detectives Barry Shuman and Ralph Pinkham, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Goodwin, Penobscot County District Attorneys David Cox, and Christopher Almy were all protecting?
During Richard Sargent's trial, I heard Sargent's defense attorney ask Shuman "Did you have any understanding with him [Pollard] about his being free from prosecution in the murder?” Shuman's response was that “I didn’t make those indications. I had to talk with the District Attorney [Christopher Almy] before any type of bargain was made." And during Cormier's trial Pollard admitted that he had a .357 gun on him the morning he fled into the woods away from the murder scene.
I immediately started searching for information on Paul Pollard and I found records of crimes that he had committed: forgery - armed robberies- reckless conduct - (firing 5 bullets into a family residence) - transporting a load of rifles, shot guns and dynamite, stolen during burglaries, from Massachusetts to Bangor, Maine. All taken care of by Maine law officials.
Cochran's case warms up
October 2, 1986, the Bangor Daily News ran a small article by A. Jay Higgins with the heading "Cochran case warms up." New information has surfaced in the five-year-old investigation of the Micheal Cochran murder case, but a state prosecutor said Wednesday [Oct. 1, 1986] that Maine State Police do not anticipate any arrests in the near future.
Maine State Police Dominating Maine DEA
October 11-12, 1986, Higgins reported "Resigning Prosecutor Criticizes Drug Unit". Assistant U.S. Attorney Pasqual Perrino claimed that "[D]ominance of the task force by the Maine State Police is compromising the potential effectiveness of the unit."
After reading A. Jay Higgins’ Oct. 1986 article concerning the Maine State Police and how they were controlling the Maine DEA, I drove to Aroostook County Superior Court (120 miles north) in Houlton, Maine and requested any and all documents on Percy Cote, the drug informant the DEA used the night Mike was murdered. One of the documents from Cote’s file state that “on or about February 12, 1981 at Presque Isle and February 15, 1981 [three days before Percy Cote’s arrest in the Feb. 18, 1981 Holden DEA drug sting and Mike's murder], at Mapleton, County of Aroostook and State of Maine Percy F. Cote, Jr. did intentionally and knowingly traffic in a schedule x drug, namely, hashish—knowing or believing the said drug to be a scheduled drug—by selling it for consideration to David Lyons [Lyons was a Maine State Police DEA agent]. The February 12th and 15th drug charges against Cote in Aroostook County were dismissed under Rule 48(a) because: “Defendant sentenced on relative charges in Penobscot County to two years in prison.”
The information I received in Aroostook County prompted me to go the Penobscot County Superior Courthouse in Bangor as soon as I arrived home to request any and all copies of court transcripts on Percy Cote, Percy Sargent, and David Dupray’s drug trafficking trials in 1981. I found some very interesting information in the court transcripts concerning the Maine DEA’s undercover drug sting the night Mike was murdered. The documents confirmed Percy Cote’s undercover role with the Maine DEA. Homicide Det. Shuman had already told me that Cote was working for them the night Mike was murdered, but the court transcripts verified it and gave me an inside look at how the DEA sting was carried out the night Mike was murdered.
Men arrested in Feb. 17-18, 1981 drug sting go on trial in Penobscot County
Percy Cote, and David Dupray were tried in Penobscot County (DA David Cox’s jurisdiction) and sentenced separately in 1981 (How I wish I had known about the trials. At that time, I was frantically trying to find out who killed Mike and why.) Cote was the first to go on trial on June 12, 1981 (at the time this was happening DA Cox had taken legal action against us for our murdered son’s bonds. We won our bail bond case against DA David Cox on June 19, 1981—one week after Cote went on trial). An entrapment defense was raised, but wasn’t successful.
Percy Cote trial, Percy Sargent plea bargains, David Dupray trial
I stay in touch with Richard Sargent
After meeting Richard at his armed robbery trial in July I stayed in touch with him. He was giving me information as his attorney made it available to him. One thing he gave me is a November 14, 1986 affidavit his attorney J. Hilary Billings had drafted for a Judgment of acquittal or a new trial for Richard. Attorney Billings had contacted Gus Fassler, the Director of the Federal DEA in Maine, and in his affidavit Billings gave a detailed description of his conversation with Gus Fassler. Fassler said his report had been disseminated to the Maine State Police in March of 1984, eleven months before Shuman's Feb. 12. 1985 visit to Paul Pollard.
News reports defense attorney's accuse Shuman of perjury
November 25, 1986. BDN reported that Richard Sargent and Lionel Cormier's were sentenced amidst perjury by Sgt. Barry Shuman.
December 3, 1986, The BDN reports Attorneys Billings and Harris argued for new trials on the basis that Det. Barry Shuman committed perjury.
I search for Paul Pollard
After finding Paul Pollard’s crimes and listening to the hearings in November and early December concerning Shuman’s perjury, I decided to try find Paul Pollard. I had heard him testify in August (four months earlier) at Cormier’s trial that he had just graduated from Assumption College in Worchester, Massachusetts.
He testified that he had done only menial jobs and had never held a job for any length of time before going to college. Yet according to Robert Smith’s testimony, Pollard was dealing in the stock market, renting apartments on Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts, and driving rental cars—all being financed from arm robbing drug dealers.
I called Assumption College in Massachusetts and spoke with a woman who was quite willing to answer some questions. She gave me Pollard’s home address in Alexandria, Virginia and she also told me that his college funds came from Alaska’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program. I then found information that Pollard’s so-called father, Owen Pollard, was the director of Vocational Rehabilitation for the State of Maine.
Many disabilities qualified for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. One was drug addiction—Pollard’s qualification. According to Owen Pollard Paul was drug addicted and was hospitalized during his first year of college. And Cormier told Richard, in their recorded conversation, that Paul was addicted to drugs and hospitalized. I learned that a long residency period in any state was not required, but I was never able to find out why Pollard applied for the funds in Alaska (where his mother lived) rather than Maine or Massachusetts where he lived.
The day, I received Pollard’s phone number in Alexandria, Virginia, I called him but when he found out who I was he immediately hung up on me. I kept calling back until he finally answered. During Pollard’s 1989 deposition he said he called Maine State Police Det. Shuman before he would answer my call. “I had called to tell him that Mrs. Cochran had been calling me.”