ID's Dead North follows Kelly Cochran, who is now serving time for two murders but told an investigator she may have killed as many as 21
The missing-person’s call was the tip of the iceberg.
Laura Frizzo, the chief of police in small-town Iron River, Michigan, didn’t know it then. But the October 2014 disappearance of Christopher Regan, 53, a divorced dad-of-two with plans to leave the state’s remote Upper Peninsula for a new life in North Carolina, eventually would lead to police to learn that his female lover, Kelly Marie Cochran, 35, collaborated in his killing.
Subsequently, Cochran told police that she murdered many others — including her husband.
Even more depraved: A neighbor believes she might have cooked Regan’s remains and served them to him for dinner.
“You don’t just know your neighbors by the image they’re portraying,” says Frizzo, whose look into Regan’s disappearance and murder — and the subsequent revelations about Cochran — unfolds in the new documentary series Dead North, premiering May 28 and 29 on Investigation Discovery (9-11 p.m ET).
Investigators suspect Cochran to be a serial killer after she told former Hobart, Indiana, police detective Jeremy Ogden on two occasions that she murdered 21 people, Ogden says.
Ogden alleges that Cochran’s study in college of forensics and psychology gave her an edge that allowed her to initially conceal Regan’s killing with the help of her husband, Jason — until Jason himself died by her hand, and Kelly landed in jail.
“I think they did a very good job of cleaning things up,” Ogden tells PEOPLE, explaining why he believes the pair may have killed others before killing Regan. “They were very thorough. Nobody’s that good the first time around.”
Regan’s case was the first one to put police on Kelly Cochran’s trail.
She was convicted in Michigan and sentenced to life in prison for Regan’s murder in May 2016. Prosecutors said she used sex to lure Regan to her home, where her husband lay in wait to shoot him. She then helped dismember and dump Regan’s body in the Upper Peninsula woods, where some of his bones turned up near a spot she later pointed out, according to the documentary.
A Disturbing Dinner
She and Regan were co-workers having an affair when Regan’s former girlfriend reported him missing on Oct. 27, 2014, as he was packing for the move to North Carolina and a new job he’d lined up.
Frizzo soon learned of the affair and questioned the Cochrans. Jason acknowledged his wife’s dalliance, and said he’d reluctantly agreed to it to prevent a divorce after he was injured and became unable to work or have sex. But Frizzo, who was initially suspicious of Jason, couldn’t otherwise crack the couple.
“In the very beginning of all of this, there was a time when I actually thought [Kelly’s] husband did this out of jealously and anger,” Frizzo tells PEOPLE.
The Cochrans quickly moved and resettled in Indiana. “They left everything behind when they fled,” says Frizzo. “The furniture was still in the house, food, everything was left. Jason’s marijuana plants — he left those behind.”
Frizzo subsequently talked to a neighbor of the couple who reported having heard “all this sawing in the middle of the night.” When the neighbor had asked Jason about it, Jason replied that he couldn’t sleep and filled the wee hours by working on a staircase. The neighbor found this explanation odd — he’d never observed any materials going in or out.
Then a neighbor remembered the sudden, unprecedented invitations from the Cochrans to come over for dinner.
“Like, three times in one week,” Frizzo says. “He recalled there was so much meat. There was no side dishes or anything like that — shish-kabobs, then pizza, then tacos.” When the neighbor went to wash his hands, he could find no towels, and wondered what they’d been used for, she says.
The horrific possibility dawned on Frizzo and the neighbor at the same time. “I’m thinking, oh my god, did they cut this guy up?” Frizzo tells PEOPLE.
According to the recorded interview with the police chief, the neighbor turned to a relative and said, “Dude, we ate dude!”
The Killer Confesses
But the trail went cold for 16 months — until Feb. 20, 2016, when Jason Cochran, 37, died in the couple’s Indiana home, apparently from a heroin overdose.
That’s when Ogden says he received a call: Someone tipped off the FBI to say the couple were suspects in the unsolved Michigan case, and he should take a deeper look. He ordered a full autopsy that revealed Jason had died not from an overdose, but from asphyxiation.
Kelly Cochran’s defensiveness and evasions already had raised red flags, Ogden says. With Frizzo’s notes on Regan’s case in hand, Odgen hatched a plan with the FBI tipster to make Cochran believe her husband had left behind a letter that would expose their past actions.
From there the dominoes fell until Cochran confessed her role in both murders.
“She looked me right in the eye and said that Jason had taken the heroin that night, and basically she wasn’t going to wait for him to die, it was taking too long,” says Ogden. “She had the power, and she wanted to show him that she had the power and she was in control.”
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After being sentenced to life in prison for Regan’s killing, Cochran took a plea deal with a 65-year prison sentence in her husband’s case, admitting to giving him the heroin and then covering his nose and mouth until he died, the Post-Tribune reports. The deal prevents her from being charged with any more crimes in Indiana.
She has appealed her Michigan conviction.
‘I Think There Are Others Out There’
“Jeremy [Ogden] and I both have discussed that we’re not done,” says Frizzo, who has since left the Iron River police department for a job monitoring drug trafficking in Indiana. “Now our desire is to follow through” to seek out any additional victims of the killer.
Says Ogden: “At one time she said that she had killed 21 people. On two occasions she told me that. I didn’t believe it. I think that she was stretching things, she was just trying to play a game. She realizes that when she gives you 21 games, which she did, you’re going to have to take time to look into them. … It didn’t take long for me to realize that she was sending me on wild goose chases.”
No more victims have turned up, and no other murder charges await Cochran. Still, Ogden says, “I think there are others out there.”
“Although we found Christopher Regan’s skull, of course, I am still bothered by the fact that I want to know where the rest of his body went,” says Frizzo. “I wish I could know that he didn’t suffer, and know that confidently, but I never will know that.”
Dead North debuts on Investigation Discovery May 28 and 29 (9-11 p.m. ET).