My conversation with Det. Barry Shuman in 1989.

October 1989, shortly after my contact with Senator George Mitchell I called Detective Barry Shuman (lead detective on Mike's murder) at the State Police Barracks in Orono. I didn’t know if he would talk to me since he had hung up on me when I called him in 1985. I was surprised he stayed on the phone as long as he did. This was nearly nine years after Mike’s murder and it was the only time he stayed on the phone and let me speak. I was not in a very good mood when I called him but I got to say some things I wanted to say to him and he listened.

State Police, Orono. P.C. Moody.

Lee: “Yes. Detective Shuman, please.”

Shuman: “Hello.”

Lee: Detective Shuman.”

Shuman: ”Yes.”

Lee: “It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken with you.”

Shuman: “Yes.”

Lee: “You know who this is?”

Shuman: “Nope.”

Lee: “It’s Lee Cochran.”

Shuman: ”Lee, yes Lee. What can I do for you?”

Lee: "I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about the autopsy.”

Shuman: “Mm-mm. What did you want to talk about?”

Lee: “Well I’ve tried to talk to Ryan, but Fernald LaRochelle won’t allow me to, Okay?”

Shuman: Mm-mm.”

Lee: "Michael was identified by a scar, you said, from an operation down the center of his chest.”

Shuman: “He was identified through his dental charts.”

Lee: “Mike didn’t have a scar on his chest; it was on his neck.

Shuman: “You would have to talk with Dr. Ryan.”

Lee: “LaRochelle wouldn’t allow me to speak with Ryan.”

Shuman: “Mm-mm.”

Lee: “I do have the autopsy report and I do have a letter from Ryan and he said four inches down on his sternum there was a three fourths of an inch cut. Well that wasn’t where Michael’s operation was. I went to the hospital and got his records. It’s up in his neck. His incision was up in his neck.”

Shuman: “That would be something that you would have to discuss with Ryan.”

Lee: “Well Fernald Rochelle won’t let me talk to him.”

Shuman: “Mm-mm.”

Lee: “I know pretty well now what happened to Michael. What Lionel and Paul did down there that night. I know they shot him. That was why the back of his head was missing and that they poured gas on him while he was still breathing.”

Shuman: “Who did that?”

Lee: “Who did that? Lionel did that. Lionel and Paul.”

Shuman: “Well, we never had any indication that Paul did it.”

Lee: “Cox called Carl Andrews. I have the paperwork on that. He said, dismiss the escape against Michael Cochran, he’s deceased and you did not go to see Derald until the 25th to find out where (Mike’s) dental records were.. How could David Cox tell Carl Andrews to dismiss his case the day before he was identified?”

Shuman: “You’ll have to ask David Cox.”

Lee: “I have a lot of questions, Mr. Shuman, A lot of questions and you’ve closed me out from the day Michael died.”

Shuman: “You’re the one who stopped talking.”

Lee: “You hung up on me.”

Shuman: “Well what did you accuse me of?”

Lee: “I said that you didn’t talk to Linda and what did you say? You said, ‘Go talk to – give it to the Bangor Daily News’ I didn’t accuse you or anything.”

Shuman: “You told me you couldn’t trust me with the information and I got upset and figured if you can’t trust me you can to find someone you can trust.”

Lee: “Now you listen. You listen just a minute. What happened was something had come out in the paper. A. Jay Higgins printed an article for me and afterward I asked you why you weren’t going to talk to Linda because I know for a fact that she helped Mike escape and you said, ‘Give it to the Bangor Daily News’ and hung up on me. But the thing is, that was my son and today when I go over these reports he was a live when the poured gas on him.”

Shuman: “I knew that. I told you that at the beginning.”

Lee: “You did? You told me he was alive when they poured the gas on him?

Shuman: “I told you that he was alive before the fire.”

Lee: “ But he was dying because he had been shot. Lionel and Paul are both telling now that he was shot. Lionel shot him with a .357 magnum.”

Shuman: “Paul is stating that he shot him now?”

Lee: “I have an affidavit of Lionel’s. He tells how they went down on the morning of the 18th to Sargent’s. I have an affidavit of Linda’s [Harriman Sargent] of what they told her that morning. Every soul that you could talk to that was going to tell you anything about this case, you stayed away from…”

Shuman: “The first time I met Paul Pollard was on 3/3. Two weeks after the fire.””

Lee: “Yeah, well, that didn’t make it any easier for Michael when he died. Did it?”

Shuman: “Well I didn’t … See, we had no idea that Michael died in the fire...”

Lee; “I believe you did.”

Shuman: “until we positively I.D.’s him on the next day, the 25th.”

Lee: I talked to Tom Goodwin out to the mall, okay. He says he knows that they arrested the wrong men. I have witnesses who heard him. He said, ‘Yeah, we made a mistake. We know that.’ He knows that. He knows that Lionel Cormier shot Michael. He knows that.“

Shuman: “That’s what Tom Goodwin says.”

Lee: “Yeah, but you know what else he said? He said Lionel won’t talk.” I said ‘Oh is that right? Wouldn’t we have a lot of murderers walking around our state if we stood around and waited for them to talk?’” I rambled on. “I have a letter here he (Cormier) wrote to Richard Sargent down in the prison.”

Shuman: “How come you don’t produce these letters?”

Lee: “What would be the sense, Detective Shuman, of giving you anything more? Tom told me already that when he took me before the Grand Jury it was to take what I had, that he did it only to take it from me. He had no intentions of letting the grand jury have it. So when you could take all these things that I’ve given already and not use them, why should I give you anything more? I know you’re ready to retire, but I only want to tell you one thing today. That Michael Cochran was my son. I cared about him and until the day I take my last breath I will fight for what was done to my son. That’s the only thing that keeps me living. I think you forget. I don’t know if you have children or not, but do remember one thing—he was my son.”

Shuman: “Did you call me up to holler at me?”

Lee: “I’m telling you that I have feelings. Don’t forget in your job that you do that we people who lose these victims have feelings.”

Shuman: “You don’t think I haven’t dealt with this in the last twenty years?”

Lee: “I don’t know. If you do I don’t ──

Shuman: That’s right. You don’t know. So you’re sitting here hollering at me.”

Lee: “I’m not hollering at you. I’m telling you that I’m overcome with what was done to my son and they walked free. He might be in prison today, Lionel Cormier, might for 24 years, but you went back and took a file that was closed to put him there.”

Shuman: “I had what?’

Lee: “That file on that robbery was a closed file. Pinkham told it on the stand. You had closed that file on the robberies. You went back and reopened them. It was older than the murder. Michael died over the robberies. I gave you the tape of Percy telling exactly that they talked to Michael about the Dolan robberies in that cabin and when the drug bust went down Lionel thought that he was going to rat on them also on the Dolan robberies. He’s now saying the police did it. He’s putting it on you people. He can do that because you don’t dare touch him. He can say you people killed him. But now the police did it. And he can say it. He knows you’ll never touch him.”

Shuman: “Well, it’s still an open case, Mrs. Cochran.”

Lee: “You will never touch Lionel and Percy though will you, Shuman?”

Shuman: “If we have enough information, we will.”

Lee: “What more would you need? I have said if I had a video of Lionel Cormier shooting my son you’d say there’s something wrong with the video.”

Shuman: “Now you are saying things that you really, you know, you’re just saying things and you’re being vindictive when you’re saying that. You know if you had a video of Lionel we wouldn’t do that. Why wouldn’t we do anything?”

Lee: “Why can’t you do something on the tapes of him and Richard talking and telling how ──" 

Shuman: “Because the tapes have been doctored.”

Lee: “They weren’t doctored. They’re not doctored. They are not. He tells how the gas was poured inside, how they poured the gas outside. He tells── ”

Shuman: “How come we never heard these tapes?”

Lee: “Well, God Almighty, I gave them to the grand jury and Tom Goodwin took them. I gave every one of them to Matt Stewart. I gave them to Tom Goodwin. Lionel says it’s not over till the fat lady sings. I have an affidavit of Lionel Cormier right here in front of me that he wrote to Richard. It is all legally signed.”

Shuman: “Did you make that available to Matt?”

Lee: “Did I make that? Why would I make anything more available, Mr. Shuman?”

Shuman: “Who do you think investigates these things?”

Lee: “Well I really don’t know. That’s what I am beginning to wonder.”

Shuman: If you have this information regarding your son’s death ──

Lee: “I’ve given it.”

Shuman: and you don’t give it to us.

Lee: ”I gave it. How many times have I gone down to the Attorney General’s office? I have made trip after trip after trip. I’ve given everything I can give. (The AG’s office is in Augusta, eighty miles from Bangor.).

Shuman: “Well, you make this stuff available to Matt.”

Lee: “It wouldn’t do any good would it, Mr. Shuman.”

Shuman: “Here we go again.”

Lee: ‘What good would it do?

Shuman: “Well the only thing I can is, I acted on information that was the best information that we had at the time and I did make arrests on your son’s death. There were arrests made on your son’s death from information given by witnesses that Tom Goodwin put before the grand jury.”

Lee: “That was Sharon Sargent. That was all you had was Sharon Sargent.”

Shuman: “Well ── "

Lee: “She said you put pressure on her. She said Shuman is out of state right now talking to Paul Pollard. She said Paul Pollard is going to back up everything I say.”

Shuman: “I don’t think he even knew Sharon Sargent.”

Lee: “I don’t think he did, but she knew you was down there to talk to Paul to see if he would back up what Sharon was saying.”

Shuman: “What you’ve got to do, you’ve got to get your animosity and dislike for the state police and me or whatever ... You can dislike me. That’s your prerogative, but the thing is, the state police, we do murders every day and we arrest people every day. We may not arrest everybody for every murder, but that doesn’t mean we’re not trying. Now if you’ve got information that is valuable to this case and you’re not giving it to Matt Stewart, then you’re the one that’s holding up the investigation.”

Lee: I give all the tapes of Lionel talking and saying there’s a lot of people that have egg on their face over this Cochran thing.”

Shuman: “I’m interested in the last thing you just said. You got a deposition that Lionel Cormier admits shooting … Is that correct.”

Lee: “He doesn’t admit he did it. He said Paul did it.

Shuman: "Now why do you think he’s saying Paul did it? Do you suppose he’s after Paul for testifying against him on the armed robberies? Do you think there might be some vindictiveness there from Lionel’s side?"

Lee: “Well sure, sure. I believe that but he knows too much about the fire, Mr. Shuman. He had to be there. There’s a lot of things in there that you know that the man (Cormier) knows what he is talking about and I’ve given that all over to (assistant AG) Michael Wescott. I gave it all to Matt Stewart. I’ve given them more than once I’ve given them over. It hasn’t done any good."

Shuman: “So what would you like me to do Mrs. Cochran.”

Lee: “Well, I don’t know. The only thing I felt this afternoon, I hadn’t spoken with you for a long time (four years). Like I said, the last time I spoke with you, you hung up on me. But I go through these documents and I think look what there is here and they wouldn’t even move on it. . But going over it today I thought – you Mr. Shuman – you were the primary investigator on the case. I’m going to call him once more. It’s been years since I’ve spoken to him, but I’m going to call him to tell him how I feel about, he was alive. He was breathing.”

Shuman: “I know that.”

Lee: “He was dying though Mr. Shuman, because he’d been shot.”

Shuman: That was never proven.”

Lee: “Well, it’s pretty well proven. Why would Fernald LaRochelle –I’ve got letter after letter I’ve written to him and to Ryan. He refuses and Dr. Ryan says he cannot answer unless he releases him and lets him, but he will not. I don’t think that very fair that he won’t allow me to talk to Dr. Ryan.”

Shuman: “I can’t speak for Fern. In fact, Fern is in charge of the criminal division and he makes the decision on what I do on a homicide.”

Lee: “I don’t know if you’d call it professional but it’s – But maybe someday if I keep doing what I am doing anyway.”

Shuman: “Well what you ought to be doing is talking with Matt Stewart more.”

Lee: “He never calls me. When Michael died, Detective Shuman, nobody came to the house to tell me. They said they didn’t know where we lived. Well, when Michael escaped they knew where we lived. They went to Linda Gray. Linda called me in Caribou through my sister, which you know about──"

Shuman: “Yes, we contacted you in Caribou.”

Lee: “No you didn’t. Linda ──"

Shuman: “That’s right.”

Lee: “No, Linda called my sister in Massachusetts. But I mean to come here to this house never once. Have you ever been to my house?”

Shuman: “I think I met your husband at your house.”

Lee: “Nope, you went to Bangor Dodge where he worked and asked him where his dental records were. That was the only contact other than myself in March when finally someone says ── Nobody ever told me Michael was murdered. If I had known at that time what I know today you wouldn’t have gotten dental records, you wouldn’t have gotten anything. So when I headed up in March to see Pinkham, Pinkham told me he believed that Lionel was guilty. He believed that Percy made the phone call. We’ve got the statement now of Robert Elrick. But then when I met you for the first time at the DA’s (David Cox) office with Pinkham, Pinkham says, “I didn’t tell you that.” I just looked at him. “You didn’t tell me that.” Nope, he didn’t tell me that. Well, I didn’t dream it, and now as things come around exactly what he told me in March of 1981 is coming right back to the same thing. We’ve got the statement of Robert Elrick over here and Percy saying, I think Michael Cochran set me up and I just sent the call out to have him taken care of. He’s involved in it, Percy is. His sister knows, Linda Harriman tells me that. … [She] and her mother both know that Percy was involved in that and the reason they’re talking is because [of] what he’s doing to Richard. He’d let Richard go down for murder knowing damn well that he was the one that sent the call for Lionel (to kill Mike.)”

Shuman: “But yet when we talked to Linda everybody doesn’t know anything.”

Lee: ‘Linda says you never did talk to her.”

Shuman; “Linda Sargent was talked to.”

Lee: “Well I think there was one statement in ’84. One statement in ’84. You never went near her in ’81.”

Shuman: “You know sometimes we don’t know things in ’81.” That’s why we never close the books on these things.”

Lee: "Well no, you never close the books on a murder. You shouldn’t because you’re not supposed to.”

Shuman: “That’s right. You can call me anytime, Lee. I mean, you know, I understand your plight. I’m just as frustrated. Don’t forget, I’ve lived with this case since 1981. You may not think so, but I have lived with this case since 1981.”

Lee: “Well I’ll tell you this, if you’re a human being you, regardless of your work we are all human beings. We all have feelings. Let me say if it was your son that went wrong, Mr. Shuman, you would not turn off your feelings like you do a faucet.”

Shuman: “Of course not. I don’t expect you to.”

Lee: “That was my son. That was my child.”

Shuman: “I never shut you off.”

Lee: “I never met with you, Mr. Shuman. I talked to you down to the D.A.’s office and over the phone a couple of times and we didn’t get along too good.”

Shuman: “Didn’t you come up to the barracks once?”

Lee: “Oh yes, I came up to the barracks. That’s when Pinkham was across the hall and I could just see his legs behind the door, right? I was supposed to meet him that time when I went up there and I was supposed to be able to confront him with what he told me back in March of ’81- Lionel Cormier, he thought, was involved in this and Paul almost died and Percy sent a phone call.”

Shuman: “Lionel was a suspect, but his girlfriend alibied him.”

Lee: “Well, she would anyway wouldn’t she? Mary Thompson—they go in and rob all, take all her jewelry and everything then they come back across two state lines with a load of rifles and shotguns and dynamite – they [police] blow the dynamite up at the dump. They [police] dumped a pillowcase sack full of guns off on Mary Thompson that didn’t belong to her. Then David Cox, 10-19-1981, he dismisses the shooting up here in Old Town. How many people get away with the stuff they got away with? Bob Smith said you and Almy came to talk to him and he didn’t want to talk because how many times did I give them Lionel Cormier.”

Shuman: “Oh yeah, on the armed robberies.”

Lee: “He (Smith) does a lot of talking about Paul and the gun Paul carried and the mask he had and how Paul talked him into the robberies and Paul gets away with not even having to, you know, he gets complete immunity on it all.”

Shuman: “That’s the way it works.”

Lee: “Yeah, robberies come before murder. You see that’s what confused me.”

Shuman: “No, no, no. You’ve got—what you forget is we made arrests on your son’s murder. We had a state witness that flipped on us.”

Lee: “She was flipped before you started with her.”

Shuman: “How am I supposed to know how that?”

Lee: “Well I think it was pretty obvious.”

Shuman: “Now wait a minute. Now you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. At one time it’s obvious. I know that you think the world of Dickie Sargent.”

Lee: “Oh, no, I don’t. Oh no, I don’t, Mr. Shuman. Don’t ever tell me that”.

Shuman: “You support him in everything he does.”

Lee: “You know why I support him? It takes two of us to work together. That’s why I’m with Dickie Sargent. You know, Dickie Sargent looks out for Dickie Sargent. And I’m looking out for me and don’t think that I don’t know that. I’m playing a dangerous game right here. Percy Sargent’s getting out of prison in January. He’s already threatened me. He said I can be taken for contempt of court if my name comes out in the paper. He says the police did it. He can put it on the police. He’s got no fears going on nine years. He can laugh,”

Shuman: “Well, let me put it this way, you can call me anytime. I’m always open to talk, but you what you should be doing is – Matt is the primary officer assigned to this case and he is the one you should be talking to.” [I was told that Matt said he couldn’t do more on Mike’s case because Shuman was his supervisor.]

Lee: “I’ve turned over everything I have to him, Mr. Shuman.”

Shuman: “I think you ought to meet with Matt and sit down and talk to him again and just go over a few things and, you know, we’ve done some things on this case and you certainly don’t have the reports of what we’ve done since you got the reports.”

Lee: “ Can I ask you one question before you go.”

Shuman: “If I can answer it, sure.”

Lee: “You made a bad mistake when you arrested those three men. Is it too much of an embarrassment to the State of Maine and to you and to your men to go back and correct it now?”

Shuman: “Of course not.”

Lee: “That’s all you’ve got to do. That’s all it would take.”

Shuman: “I don’t feel embarrassed about arresting those men. I’ll tell you that right now. Those men were arrested as a result of a Grand Jury indictment ── ”

Lee: “But you present the evidence to the Grand Jury.”

Shuman: “All I presented to the Grand Jury was that I went to the scene and I found the remains of Michael Cochran [Fire Inspector Wilbur Ricker and MSP Cpl. Allan Jamison found Mike, not Det. Shuman.].”

Lee: “Why did you not need the crime lab?”

Shuman: “Because we didn’t need the crime lab.”

Lee: “How come you said you didn’t need the crime lab? I mean it was a suspicious death. Why not have the crime lab.”

Shuman: “Because there was nothing left.”

Lee: “Well why didn’t you let them decide that?”

Shuman: “Because I’ve been an officer long enough that I know when a crime lab is needed and when it isn’t needed. I had Dr. Ryan up there to remove the body, the remains because that’s his area of expertise.”

Lee: “Okay. Well, I’ll let you go. I’ve talked to you quite a while.”

Shuman: “And I understand and I empathize and I sympathize whether you realize it or not and believe me, no one – Before I retire from this outfit nothing would make me anymore happy than to make an arrest and conviction on Michael Cochran’s homicide.”

 Lee: “God I wish I could believe that, Mr. Shuman.”

Shuman: “I mean, if I could sit here -- I don’t even have to talk to you. I could have said, ‘Lee, I don’t have to talk to you’ but I am not like that.”

Lee: “Well you should talk to me. I mean, that’s what you usually do with families of homicides.”

Shuman: “But you can’t get me on the phone and start telling me that you don’t trust me.”

Lee: “I didn’t say I don’t trust you and I never did before either.”

Shuman: “Yes, you did.”

Lee: “All I told you was why didn’t you talk to Linda Gray and you said give it to ── . And I said I have evidence to show that she had taken Michael from the court house and you said, ‘Give it to the Bangor Daily News,’ and hung up on me. I mean, my mind’s all right. I can remember.”

What Shuman said next surprised me.

Shuman: “I had Linda Gray before the Grand Jury. Tom Goodwin had her.”

Why would Assistant AG Tom Goodwin have Linda before a Grand Jury? Did she testify for the state against Richard Sargent, Roger Johnson and William Myers? What could she testify to? In her 2/24/81 and 3/3/81 statements she does not mention those men. She names Percy Sargent, Paul Pollard and Lionel Cormier as the men at the cottage while she and Michael were there.

Lee: “Well I am going to have her for a deposition pretty soon.”

Linda’s deposition was taken on Dec. 18, 1989. Attorney Popkin told me that he felt it was a waste of money to do her deposition because she was saying she knew absolutely nothing. I told him, regardless, I wanted her deposed. She and Mike had gone together for nearly six years and she had spent time in my home over the years while she and Mike went together. But after Mike’s murder she refused to speak to any of Mike’s family. I saw her at the Penobscot Superior Courthouse during one of Richard Sargent’s hearings. She was standing in a corner just outside the courtroom door with Homicide Detectives Shuman and Pinkham talking and laughing like old friends.
    She came to the deposition with an attorney and she played loss of memory to the hilt. Why did she need an attorney? I wasn’t suing her. And she was asked if she had any doubt that Mike died. She said she didn't know. I think now about telling Shuman that I would have Linda for a deposition shortly before she was deposed.  He must have laughed.
Linda Gray deposition