John Lovell, a reporter with the Portland Maine Sunday Telegram, did an article on my struggle to find out what had happened to my son Michael. It was a lengthy article written thirty-seven years ago.
“There are nights when Leola Cochran's dreams of her dead son force her awake, when the mother's love that has turned to compulsion drives sleep way. On these nights she rereads the police investigation statements, listens again to the taped interviews (Discovery information given to me by two men indicted for Mike's murder after their indictments were dismissed) ation about how Mike was murdered) and renews her determination to find her son's killer. 
    “It's right there, all the time," she says in the daylight of the Bangor home she shares with her husband, Derald, and their youngest son, "I feel close to being able to find out what happened. Michael didn't deserve to be burned to death and left under that rubble six days."
    The fire in which Michael Cochran died was arson, and when his body was found a week later, his death was termed a homicide.
    In some ways, Michael Cochran's death was merely another brutal chapter in the story of the violent subculture of drugs and crime in Maine. But it has been made remarkable by the tireless quest of Leola Cochran to probe the

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 mystery of the murder, and bring her son's killer or killers to justice.
    For six years Michael's murder has been the subject of police investigation.  For six years his mother has tracked the police investigation and undertaking her own, finding and interviewing people who who might have pieces of his fatal puzzle.
    There were time when it looked as though there was a break in the case. In 1984, three men were indicted for her son's murder. And there were times when the end was as elusive as ever, as when the indictments were dropped last year after a key witness (only witness) turned out to be unreliable (Lead detective Shuman gave the witness her story.)
    In the beginning there was only the shock of his death.
    "At first I believed Michael just died in a fire. His body had been found inside the door like he couldn't get out."
    A month later, though, Mrs. Cochran says police investigators told her that her son had been murdered (after my sister-in-law told me Mike was murdered I contacted Det, Ralph Pinkham. He told me Percy Sargent sent a phone call to have Mike taken care of and that Lionel Cormier killed Mike), and her long nightmare began.
    She waited, expecting that arrests would come soon. Almost immediately, she says, police investigators had developed the names of people who had been involved with her son. But three years there were no arrests.
    What the police investigation revealed about the death of Michael Cochran is this:
    Cochran and three other people were in a lakeside cottage in Dedham the night of the fire. The others were his girlfriend, Linda Gray; Percy Sargent, a drug dealer; and Paul Pollard, who has admitted being on the fringes of various criminal activities.
    Percy Sargent left early in the evening. Later that night he was arrested in a drug bust and booked into the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor. While there, police say Sargent made a phone call (This is what Det. Ralph Pinkham told me in March of 1981 and then denied he told it to me).
    A couple of days after the fire, (according to a Feb. 12, 1985 Paul Pollard statement) he and two associated, Lionel Cormier (Pollard's half-brother) and [Percy Sargent] drove back to the rubble. I remember [Percy] or Lionel telling me that Cochran's body was in the camp and that Michael had definitely not got out. 
    Lionel and [Percy] pawed around in the rubble, kicking things around. I don't know for sure, but I think they were looking for the body.
    Pollard says he then hid out for a few days, growing worried. "I knew that someone had committed a murder, and I didn't know who." In his statement he identifies a person rumored to have set the fire in dispute over drugs and theft, adding that "I felt as though I was going to end up taking the rap for them (Lionel Cormier and Percy Sargent) in the murder of Cochran."
   Leola Cochran says "I thought they weren't going to bother with the case. They told me they had other witnesses besides Sharon Sargent, but they didn't.
    In the fall of that year, 1985, she began talking to the Bangor private detective who was working on the defense [Richard Sargent's defense]. "He came to my house in October," Leola Cochran recalls, 'and gave me enough information so I knew [Richard Sargent, Roger Johnson and William Myers] are not guilty.'
    Out of frustration, Mrs. Cochran retained a lawyer, which she says accomplished little more than deplete her checking account by a couple of thousand dollars. She paid for some of the services of the Bangor detective. She spent money on court documents and police reports. She drives often to Augusta to confer with state prosecutors.
    She talks with [criminals] at the state prison, jail, elsewhere, taping conversations. 
    Continually, she telephones investigators, reminding them of her interest, suggesting theories of the case and leads to pursue.
    “Just three weeks ago the investigators [Det. Ralph Pinkham and Assistant AG Thomas Goodwin] came to her home to discuss the case.
    She told them of tape recordings in which one of the principals in the case points the finger at another.
     The central figures in the case include some whose roles are partly known and partly unknown, in a sea of hearsay and changing statements supported by little solid evidence.
    There are Lionel Cormier and Percy Sargent, and Richard Sargent all convicted graduates of a drug and robbery underworld. There is Paul Pollard, who was the last person known to be in the cottage with Michaal Cochran. And there are Sharon Sargent, the ex-key witness, and Linda Gray, who was in the Dedham cottage hours before the fatal fire and who now, investigators say, remembers remarkably nothing about anything.
    In fact, there are several second-hand accusations floating around in the case in which various people say others or each other killed Michael Cochran.
    [Assistant AG] Goodwin, who visited Leola Cochran recently with a state police detective [Ralph Pinkham], says she indicated that she has a tape recording of a telephone conversation implicating [two of the men in the cottage before Michael was murdered] 
    But he says she declined to let him hear it [I had given them everything I uncovered, and  they ignored it all. Why give them more].
    "So all we have is second hand allegations, which is not evidence," he says.
    He has "a lot of sympathy for Lee Cochran. But from a prosecutorial point of view, it[s] extremely frustrating to be told ‘I've got evidence, I’ve go the key to the case,' and when you try to follow up, the evidence just isn't there.
    People are declining to provide us with what they say they can provide us. The people who claim to have information won't give it.’
    Leola Cochran says Goodwin and the investigators “just tell me, ‘Lee, our priority is this murder, don't think we are not doing anything, it's just that we don't have anything to go on - no one will talk.’
    “‘I have been possessed with this for a long time. I've talked to so many people. They say to me, ‘How can you do it.’ I tell them: ‘You could too, if it was your son. I can't rest knowing he was killed and no one cares. I can't live. I don't think the police will ever solve it.'
    She pauses in her assessments.
    Sometimes Leola Cochran returns to the clearing in woods where the cottage once stood. She tries to picture how it must have been that moonlit night, flames roaring into the sky, burning the cottage down into the melting snow. 
    "It hasn't been an easy thing," she says. "It's something we live with. If we could learn what happened to Michael, we could lay it to rest."
    "My youngest son turned 10 in the year Michael died. They were very close. Michael used to take him with him all the time. He needs to live for himself and not have this with him all the time. We need to get back to a normal way of living"
    “A few months ago, on Oct 4, was what would have been Michaal Cochran's 30th birthday. [He would have been forty-eight this October 2004] "It was a very difficult day for me. We made it a family thing - we took flowers to the cemetery.’ They do that every year on Oct. 4.”