Dr. Ryan’s response was dated July 22, 1988:
Dear Mrs. Cochran:

Re: Micheal Cochran, ML 88-178

The law remains in effect that we cannot release information concerning any case under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office without going through them. I have prepared a reply to your letter and have sent it to Deputy Attorney General Fernand LaRochelle to respond to you.

Henry F. Ryan
Chief Medical Examiner
August 8, 1988, I received a letter from Deputy AG LaRochelle with a letter enclosed  that Dr. Ryan had written to him.
Dear Mrs. Cochran:

I enclose a copy of a letter written to me by Dr. Ryan in response to an earlier letter of yours.

I am—

Very truly yours,
Fernand R. LaRochelle
Deputy Attorney General Criminal Division
This is the only response I ever got from Deputy AG Fern LaRochelle.

The following is the July 22, 1988 letter Dr. Ryan wrote to Deputy AG Fern LaRochelle in response to my letter.
Dear Mr. LaRochelle:

Re: Micheal Cochran, ML 81-178

I have no idea how Mrs. Cochran got the records she sent me a copy of, but she apparently has the autopsy report, not stamped with our “Do Not Copy” stamp.
     In any event, I am enclosing her latest letter and attachments and a copy of my reply to her.
     This case is too old for me to remember details not spelled out in the report. I am not responsible for entries made by others than myself and my personnel in any record. The 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. The scar was 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. Of course, in order to be sure (very positive or absolutely positive), we then confirm our decision on identity with dental comparison. This is, as I say, quite routine practice.

You can handle this matter and my reply as you see fit.

Henry F. Ryan Chief Medical Examiner
The information in Ryan’s letter to LaRochelle didn’t correspond with the information in Ryan’s letter to me in July of 1981. He wrote LaRochelle that the “identification of the deceased was made initially by the circumstances, the police suspecting who it was.” That is not what Ryan wrote me in July of 1981. At that time he said “the remains were identified with certainty through the dental comparison.” But now he says he has no idea if the word “positive” was ever used” and that Mike’s body was released “upon probability of identification.” He mentions finding the scar but does not say it was on his chest as he had in his 1981 letter. Mike had been released for a cremation upon probability of identification because the dental comparison was not completed until June 1, 1981.

During my law suit against Paul Pollard  in 1989, I obtained a permit (I suspect was submitted to the Mt. Hope Cemetery Corp.) to cremate what was left of my dear son’s severely charred body. It was created on February 26, 1981, one day after the autopsy. This permit was signed by Henry Laitz MD. I tried to find this man but was unable to. I was told that he was living overseas.

     Why did a doctor sign a permit to cremate a body that had died under suspicious circumstances and state that "I am satisfied that no further examination or judicial inquiry concerning this death is necessary?" 
     A February 24, 1981 death certificate states pending investigation and on June 1, 1981, four months later, it was amended to homicide. I also learned that Mike’s jaw bones were still at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office.  Mike was not identified when his body was returned to his family for a recommended cremation.
     In 2002, 21 years, after Mikes murder his jaw bones were returned to his family for burial. I was told that I first needed to write a letter to Jim Ferland at the CME’s office giving him permission to transfer Mike’s remains for burial:
I give my consent for you to deliver to Jerry Hughes the remains of my son, Micheal Craig Cochran, which has been held at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office for further identification since 1981 for burial.
     During my lawsuit against Paul Pollard in 1989, my attorney, Michael Popkin,  contacted Dr. Ryan. Ryan told my attorney that his office “did not have very much information on the Cochran murder, because there was not very much information.” He said that he “believed the case was not really under investigation.” My attorney said “what was of interest was his assertion that the case is really de facto closed.” This was true in 1989 and is true yet today—40 years after Mike’s brutal murder.


Deputy ME Roy's deposition was taken on March 23, 1990.  He testified that there was no trauma to Mike's body that was burned beyond recognition.

     All right. Now, could you please tell me what you concluded from your examination at that time?”

     Roy: “I concluded that the cause of death was due to inhalation of products of combustion including carbon monoxide. ... That’s based on presence of soot in the trachea. There was no evidence of gunshot wounds, stab wounds to the chest, to the trunk or head .

     Popkin: “Okay. Now, do I understand you that what you are saying is that there was no obvious cause of death?”

Roy: “That’s right.”

     Popkin: “And did you find any evidence of trauma?”

     Roy: “No.”

Popkin: “Okay. That means no stab wounds, no gunshot wounds."

     Roy: “That’s right.”

     Dr. Roy’s testimony contradicted the information I received in a letter from Dr. Henry Ryan in July of 1981. He wrote me that “The state of the remains being what they were, the possibility of other injuries is a difficult matter.” And in Dr. Roy’s February 25, 1981 autopsy it states: The back, sides and back half of the top of the skull is absent with severely burnt ends of bone noted at the sutures.”

     How could Dr. Roy say that there was no evidence of gunshot wounds to the head when the back, sides and back half of the top of the skull was absent?
     In 2019, I wrote Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D., who is a "forensic pathologist, attorney and medical-legal consultant. He has been a consultant in numerous high-profile cases, but is perhaps best known for his criticism of the Warren Commission's findings concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy. With nearly 50 years of experience, he is highly regarded in his field and across the medical profession."
I wrote Dr.Wecht to ask how Dr. Roy could find no injury to Mike's body when his body was burned beyond recognition.  He was kind enough to respond, many did not.

He responded by email asking me to contact him by phone.
Cyril Wecht
Mon, Jun 3, 2019 at 2:03 PM

Ms. Cochran: Please call me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx to discuss your inquiry regarding your con’s autopsy report.

Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D.
Dr. Cyril Wecht started his conversation by telling me that I had his sympathy for losing my son in such a way. He also remarked on my work on Mike’s case and writing a book about it. He then answered some questions concerning CDME Roy's autopsy report on Mike's body, that the state of Maine refused to allow Roy to answer for me, and his deposition testimony.

1) Dr. Roy’s autopsy report states cause of death as “Inhalation of products of combustion of carbon monoxide” and in his deposition testimony, he said “I concluded that the cause of death was due to inhalation of products of combustion including carbon monoxide. ... That’s based on presence of soot in the trachea."

Dr. Wecht told me today that soot in the trachea would not give the cause of death. He said Mike’s body was too severely charred to tell what other injuries he sustained before the fire and that his heart would beat for a while after injury causing him to breathe in the soot that was in his trachea.

2) Dr. Roy’s testified that “there was no evidence of gunshot wounds, stab wounds to the chest, to the trunk or head.”

Dr. Wecht also said there would be "‘no evidence of gunshot wounds, stab wounds to the chest, to the trunk or head” because there was not enough of Mike’s body left after the arson fire to tell if there were injuries. When I said then Dr. Roy should have said that, he said that’s right, he should have said that.

3) When I told Dr. Wecht that the Maine Attorney General’s Office tells me that they cannot allow the Medical Examiner’s Office to answer any of my questions because the case is still under investigation.

Dr. Wecht didn’t think much of that. He said as Mike's mother they should answer my questions.