MSP Det. Ralph Pinkham 1981 Homicide Investigation

Det. Ralph Pinkham's 1981 15 day Homicide Investigation of Mike's murder.

February 24, 1981

1130 AM
This officer received a call from the Orono State Police Barracks stating that a body had been found in the remains of a cottage fire at Lake Lucerne in the Town of Dedham by Inspector Wilbur Ricker of State Fire Marshall’s Office.

1320 hours
This officer arrived at the scene on Sumac Road ... Present at the scene were [MSP] Det. Herbert B. Shuman, Inspector Wilber Ricker, Lucerne Village Fire Chief Norman Herrin, and [MSP] Cpl. Alan Jamison. Ricker showed this officer the body of an unidentified human being laying in what was the left front part of the burned down structure and stated that the fire had occurred on February 18, 1981, but that all available Fire Marshall personnel had been tied up with a triple fatal fire [Patricia Oakes, Donald Morrel and Jesse Eddins.] in the city of Bangor on that date and that this was their first visit to this fire scene. Ricker further stated that it was his opinion that the fire was the result of arson.

1500 hours
This officer arrived at the Bangor Police Department and met with  Lt. Roger Bryce and his detectives to discuss the fire death at Lake Lucerne, to determine if there was any connection with the triple fatal fire in the City of Bangor on the same date [the Bangor arson was on the 17th and Lucerne Lake arson was on the 18th], and to try to identify the deceased.

1600 hours
This officer talked with Lt. Fred Clarke of the Bangor Police Department, currently Acting Director [of Maine DEA], who advised that on the night of February 17, 1981 and in the early morning hours of February 18, 1981, his agents, along with Bangor Police Detectives, had arrested David Dupray, DOB: 10–27–49; Percy Sargent, and Percy Cote in the Town of Holden on a buy-bust drug trafficking charge. ...

1630
This officer received a call from Herb Saucier an [DEA] Agent in Lewiston, Maine. Saucier stated that he had been contacted by Richard Sargent, a known drug dealer, and brother of Percy Sargent, and that Sargent had stated that the deceased subject in the cottage was Micheal Cochran.
    
2300
This officer made arrangements to get medical records from the Eastern Maine Medical Center at Bangor and also dental records on Micheal Cochran, the suspected deceased, and forward them to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in an attempt to make positive identification of the deceased. On this date this officer received a call from the Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Ryan, stating that he had positively identified the deceased as Micheal Cochran and arrangements were made to notify the next of kin.

February 26, 1981

0015
This officer interviewed Robert Elrick an inmate at the Penobscot County Jail.  And in that statement Pinkham writes that "Elrick stated that the night that Percy Sargent was arrested on drug charges and brought to the Penobscot County Jail, that he had overheard an inmate by the name of David Harrington, who was doing time for operating under the influence and Percy Sargent talking Sargent had stated to Harriman that he thought Michael Cochran had set him up for the drug bust and that he (Sargent) had already made the call out to have Cochran taken care of."    
 
*****
1320
Pinkham’s report states that he received a call informing him that a body had been found in the remains of a cottage fire and that he arrived at the scene at 1320. According to Cpl. Allan Jamison’s report (page 6) it states that at "1320 hours, “Sgt. Ralph Pinkham, C.I.D. III, and Commander [Maine DEA] Fred Clark [same Fred Clarke who was on the February 18 undercover drug sting in Holden.] arrived on the scene." Jamison's report also says that "On their arrival, this Officer advised that if at any time they had any idea on returning to the scene, either permission or a search warrant should be obtained." 
     Ricker told me that when Pinkham and Clarke arrived they went to the little garage that had been saved and began searching it for drugs and that was the reason Jamison told them, if they intended to return either permission or a search warrant should be obtained.
    Why did Det. Pinkham and Maine DEA Commander Lt. Fred Clarke wait until Mike was found—six days after the DEA drug sting—to search David Dupray’s garage for drugs?
     The officers already knew that the Dupray cottage had burned the morning of Feb. 18.  Bangor PD (also Clarke's place of employment) Lt. Roger Bryce arrived at Bangor Superior Court on the morning of Feb. 18 to inform Dupray and his mother that their cottage burned that morning. This was five hours after Mike was murdered. Since the Bangor Police knew the cottage had burned on the 18th why didn’t they go then to search for drugs. Why wait until Mike was found?

1600
Pinkham says he talked with Commander Fred Clarke who advised that his agents, along with Bangor Police Detectives, had arrested David Dupray,  Percy Sargent, and Percy Cote in the Town of Holden on a buy-bust drug trafficking charge. 
     Pinkham doesn't mention that it was the Maine State Police running the undercover sting the night Sargent, Cote and Dupray were arrested.  Cote was arrested with Sargent and Dupray so they would not know he was working undercover with the Maine DEA.
      I later found court transcripts of the 1981 trials for Percy Cote and David Dupray (Percy Sargent plea bargained) and in the transcripts it states that Pinkham was involved in the sentencing of Cote. He recommended Cote not be sentenced to Maine State Prison because he could be harmed for the undercover work he had done for police agencies. 
      Pinkham had no concern for the harm that was done to my son when Percy Sargent blamed Mike for his drug arrest rather than Percy Cote.
     An article in the Bangor Daily News said a federal prosecutor resigned his job because of how the Maine State Police were running the Maine DEA

1630
Pinkham says he received a call (at 4:30 pm) from Herb Saucier an [DEA] Agent in Lewiston, Maine. Saucier stated that he had been contacted by Richard Sargent, a known drug dealer, and brother of Percy Sargent, and that Sargent had stated that the deceased subject in the cottage was Micheal Cochran.
    An article in the Bangor Daily News reported Shuman, while at the murder scene on the 24th, as saying  "[T]he body would be taken to the Augusta General Hospital for an autopsy. "Hopefully we will be making an identification the next day or so," he said. "As far as we know, we have one deceased. We are treating it as a homicide." But immediately after leaving the arson-murder scene Shuman contacted Mike's girlfriend. He took a statement from Linda at the Bangor PD at 5:45 pm. 
     A document from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department signed by Deputy Sheriff Carl Andrews on February 24, 1981 says that he was “Notified by District Attorney’s Office  [David Cox’s office] that Micheal Cochran is deceased. Case closed by exceptional means.”
     After finding the document in Johnson's discovery documents, I called the district attorney's office to ask what time they close. I was told that the DA’s office closed at 4:00 p.m. each day.
     According to Maine State Police Cpl. Allan Jamison’s arson report, the day Mike was found, the Chief Medical Examiner’s vehicle left the murder scene at 4:40 p.m. for the eighty-mile ride to Augusta—forty minutes after Cox’s office closed for the day. How did Cox know the unidentified body was Mike before the Medical Examiner’s vehicle left the murder scene?
     And the information from Richard was one half hour after the District Attorney's office closed for the day.  It wasn’t until one day later, Feb. 25, that Shuman arrived at Mike’s father’s place of employment seeking dental records for identification.

2300
Pinkham says he made arrangements to get medical records from the Eastern Maine Medical Center at Bangor and also dental records on Micheal Cochran, the suspected deceased, and forward them to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in an attempt to make positive identification of the deceased.
     On this date
(11:00 p.m.) this officer received a call from the Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Ryan, stating that he had positively identified the deceased as Micheal Cochran and arrangements were made to notify the next of kin.
     Pinkham listed this information under the date of February 24, 1981 at 11:00 p.m. Was Pinkham contacting Eastern Maine Medical Center and receiving information from Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Ryan at 11:00 o’clock at night? Furthermore, Mike was not positively identified until June 1st, four months later.
      July of 1988, I wrote Dr. Ryan asking him why he needed dental records if he had positively identified Mike on February 24 as Pinkham's report stated.  Deputy AG Fern LaRochelle, (head of the criminal department)  had refused to allow Ryan to communicate with me. Ryan wrote to LaRochelle and enclosed my letter with his letter. LaRochelle sent the letter to me. An excerpt from Ryan's letter below:
 
"This identification of the deceased was made initially by the circumstances, the police suspecting who it was. The next item toward identification was the finding of the scar consistent with mediastinal lymph node biopsy. Such scars are unusual, especially in young people. Based upon those bits of evidence we probably felt confident that we could release the body as identified. This is routine practice as we endeavor, for the sake of the family and our own logistical problems, to release bodies promptly based upon probability of identification. I have no idea if the word “positive” was ever used, but that is a relative term and not inappropriate in the face of the evidence developed.
 
In a letter I received from Dr, Ryan July of 1981 he said that Mike was identified by a scar on his chest. This was erroneous information. The scar from Mike's biopsy was on his neck. I have medical records from the hospital that states that the skin of the neck was prepared.
 
February 26, 1981

0015
 Pinkham said that he interviewed an inmate at the Penobscot County Jail and the inmate stated that he had overheard another inmate and Percy Sargent talking. He heard Percy Sargent tell the inmate that he believed Mike set him up and he just sent the call out to have Mike taken care of.
     I couldn't believe what I was reading. This is the very information Pinkham told me  the first time I met with him in March of 1981. When I met him again at the DA Cox's office, he looked me in the face and denied he had told it to me. He also told me that Lionel Cormier set the fire and the man the fire chief saw fleeing into the woods was Paul Pollard. It was during the same meeting with Pinkham and Shuman that Shuman threatened me with charges.