A Maine Murder by Leola McBreairty Cochran

Defrosting Cold Cases
By Alice De Sturler

The book ‘A Maine Murder’ by Leola “Lee” McBreairty Cochran is dedicated to Michael Craig Cochran (Oct 4, 1956 – Feb 18, 1981), Lee’s beloved son.

The book is a tremendous case encyclopedia detailing every step that Lee had to endure to receive a part of the truth and some justice for her son.

The book is written from the author’s point of view, how she experienced the case, the investigation, and the interactions with all the people involved. It is clearly written from a mother’s point of view as Lee’s protective nature shines through the pages.

 I appreciate the details about Michael’s early life and the honesty about his drug addiction. It is very personal; it brings Michael to life on paper. And we need that.

Lee’s journey to discover the truth brings to the surface the mess that is our justice system. The insensitivity when dealing with victims’ family members, the disdain for the civilian, and the disrespect for anyone who dares to ask the authorities a question, must be exposed. I wish that we had a system where victims’ rights advocates would always
accompany family members to meetings with the authorities and to court as an impartial buffer and as a witness to professional and proper handling of cases.

Lee will be [85 years old in July and] has been immersed in the case from day one [40 year anniversary February 18, 2021] and knows it by heart. However … in every true crime case, we need to write with the novice reader in mind.

When a true crime book of this volume, over 600 pages, is written in a novel style it is easy to lose the attention of the reader. We cannot let that happen as Michael is too important. His story is too important. The cover-ups must be exposed.

A last point of critique: emotions. Right now, the main body text reflects the case with breaks in the narrative by Lee’s thoughts, questions, and reactions. Justifiably so, it is her book. This is about her murdered son. However, it makes reading difficult. By injecting her emotions, the reader is immediately confronted with the family’s pain. That can sometimes take away the reader’s ability to form their own reaction to the story as it develops as it is natural to adopt the family’s pain as your own.

And the book is filled with a lot of pain. Reading how Michael was found, gasoline poured over his body while he was still alive after having been shot, and set on fire, the book is heartbreaking. But despite all this, this biggest release for me came at the end. After reading through all the pain, the moment I broke down, and I cried a good bit, was from page 505 onwards.

Not all Mike’s body parts had been returned to the family. His jawbones were still at the Medical Examiner’s Office. Lee had to sign to receive them 21 years after his murder.

Lee had her other son Derry with her to permanently lay to rest Michael’s body. I quote Lee: “I stayed in the car and watched Derry go to the grave and lift the sod. When he dropped the sod, he remained in his squatted position, looking off in the distance. After a while, he came back to the car and said, “Mom, there is just a paper bag in there on top of the urn.

 
As everyone would, Lee expected that Mike’s body parts would be in one urn, that the jawbones would be placed in the ashes, and even if you find out then that it doesn’t fit, humanity demands that you find a solution!Urns come in different shapes and sizes and after all Lee and her family had been through, the least the State of Maine could have done was to properly hand over Michael’s remains. All his remains in one urn for burial. How much more disdain and inhumane treatment must this family endure?

Leola “Lee” McBreairty Cochran has written a encyclopedic research manual about the development of a covered-up true crime story, the investigation, the trials, and the aftermath. She exposes those who railroaded her and those who stood by her. ‘A Maine Murder’ is a mix of a true crime, survival  guide, memoir, diary, trial transcript repository, and guidance for other victim families. She has done a tremendous job and I highly recommend you check out this book.

email to: mcbreairty03@yahoo.com