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The Iron River Murder Pact

Updated: May 4, 2021

Fifty-three-year-old Christopher Karl Regan was a divorced father of adult children, United States Air Force Veteran, and responsible hard-working man. He was planning to move from Iron River, Michigan, to Asheville, North Carolina, in the fall of 2014 to start a new job and repair a broken relationship with his son and namesake, Christopher Regan Jr. He had an appointment on October 15th, 2014 to complete a pre-hire drug screening for his new job. He never showed up. The truth would take investigators and loved ones of Chris down a dark and twisty path, revealing deep dark secrets. This is the story of the Iron River Murder Pact.

Iron River Murder Pact

Christopher Regan was a responsible man. He was fifty-three, previously divorced, with adult children. He had an estranged relationship with his sons in the past but was repairing those relationships via daily text messages and phone calls. After serving in the Untied States Air Force for twenty years, Chris retired from the military. After reconnecting with an old flame, Chris Regan moved to Iron River, Michigan to be with Terri. He found work as a supervisor for Oldenburg Group. The company manufactured defense and mining equipment (Phelps, 2019).

Unfortunately, the relationship between Terri and Chris did not last and they split in April 2014. However, the two remained close friends and spoke often to one another. Chris was planning to leave Michigan’s upper peninsula for good and start a new life in Asheville, North Carolina. He had been discussing the plans with his son, Chris Regan Jr., who was also planning to move to Asheville to live with his father. Chris even secured a job in Asheville and was prepared to move at the end of October or early November of 2014.


In late October, Terri reported to Iron River Police that she had not heard from or seen Chris in almost two weeks, since October 14th (Phelps, 2019). The sergeant on duty took Terri’s statement and escorted Terri to Chris’s apartment. The apartment was in disarray and led investigators to believe Chris was packing to leave. There was no sign of Chris. Terri also shared that she noticed Chris’s car parked at a park and ride near Iron River. They searched the car, findings several personal items including a knee brace that Chris used regularly. Still, no sign of Chris.

Iron River is a very small town on the upper peninsula of Michigan, just over the Wisconsin border. The area is rural, full of abandoned mines, and is a fairly isolated community (Dead North, 2018). The police department includes less than a half dozen officers. In fall of 2014, the Chief of Police was Laura Frizzo. Laura instantly became involved in trying to find the missing Chris Regan. The investigation would prove to be a highlight in her career but would lead to unexpected personal consequences.

The Michigan State Police were asked to assist in the investigation almost immediately considering the small department and lack of resources in Iron River. The investigators first looked at the personal life of the missing man. His ex-wife barely had contact with him in several years. His sons both communicated with him regularly via text messaging and phone calls but lived on the other side of Michigan. Chris Regan Jr. reported that his father failed to follow through with their move to Asheville and stopped returning calls and messages after October 14th, 2014. None of the man’s family were considered suspects.

The Michigan State Police looked hard at Terri. She was, by her own admission, an ex-girlfriend of Chris’s. She may have been upset about the breakup or jealous of other women the man may have been talking to. However, Chief Frizzo felt the woman was genuinely upset about the disappearance and very cooperative with the investigation. Her gut told her Terri was not involved in the disappearance (Dead North, 2018).

The investigation led to Chris’s workplace. Chris was a supervisor in the company and according to the human resources manager a model employee. He was rarely late and never failed to show up for his duties. They were aware Chris had a planned day off on October 15th but did not understand why he failed to show up for work on the 16th (Dead North, 2018). There had been some rumors in the organization, however, about Chris having a relationship with one of the employees.

The employee that Chris was rumored to be having a relationship with was Kelly Cochran. Kelly was a married woman with a turbulent home life. Kelly had told coworkers about her husband having a volatile temper and threatening her on multiple occasions. She was seemingly unhappy in her marriage. Chief Frizzo knew she needed to speak to Kelly and her husband.

Kelly and Jason Cochran lived in a nearby town of Iron River, Caspian, which is near the Caspian pit, an old abandoned mine. When the police department made initial contact with Kelly, she seemed willing and eager to speak with officers. Jason, however, was more standoffish and seemed very nervous. The Michigan State Police interviewed the couple while Frizzo watched from outside the room. Kelly admitted to having a sexual relationship with Chris Regan. She claimed her husband was aware of the relationship. She said she last saw Chris on October 14th, when the two had dinner. She stated she had tried calling and texting him several times since then, but he was not responding to her. She felt he was upset with her for not wanting to move to North Carolina with him.

Jason, being interviewed separately, confirmed that he was aware of his wife’s sexual relationship with Chris Regan, but was unaware of the whereabouts of Chris. Jason explained that he had health problems and was on disability. He said that when his body had failed him, he was no longer able to perform sexually. In order to keep his wife, he agreed to turn the other way while she had affairs. He knew of at least two men his wife was seeing. Kelly confirmed in her interview that she was also having an affair with a co-worker at Oldenburg that worked under Chris’s direction (Dead North, 2018).

(Above: Kelly and Jason Cochran)

Eric, the other man Kelly was seeing, was interviewed next. He confirmed that he was having a relationship with Kelly. He was under the impression that she and her husband were separated. He told investigators he was growing irritated with Kelly because she would stop messaging him and communicating with him for days a time, then reconnect hot and heavy again. He was frustrated with the relationship. Could this be a motive to murder Kelly’s other lover?

During Kelly’s interview, she was asked about the Park and Ride where Chris’s car had been found. She denied knowing where it was or anything about the area. However, Eric was able to establish that was a lie. He told investigators that he and Kelly often met at the Park and Ride to have sex at the nearby lake (Dead North, 2018). Eric had an alibi and agreed to a lie detector test that he passed with flying colors. He was eliminated as a suspect at that time.

By December of 2014, Michigan State Police had concluded that Chris Regan was missing by his own choice. They felt he either committed suicide or disappeared to start a new life somewhere else. The MSP did not believe Chris Regan wanted to be found and adults are allowed to disappear anytime they like. They no longer wanted to pour valuable resources into the investigation. Laura Frizzo, however, was not about to give up on finding Chris Regan. She had a strong suspicion that Kelly and Jason Cochran knew where he was and were responsible for foul play. While she advocated for Chris, the City of Iron River and MSP pulled back on resources and support for the investigation (Phelps, 2019).

By March of 2015, Laura Frizzo had dedicated many hours to attempting to interrogate Jason and Kelly Cochran. They agreed to speak to her several times, but never admitted to any involvement in Chris’s disappearance. Jason had explained that he had serious anxiety, mental health issue, and had been in a mental hospital for a while in fall of 2014 (Phelps, 2019). He was nervous and eventually quit talking to Frizzo, asking for a lawyer. Kelly had been caught in several lies, but nothing that proved her involvement in Chris’s disappearance. She didn’t seem as nervous as her husband, but Frizzo was sure they were both involved. The lies had started to pile up, leading to probable cause for a search warrant of the Cochran’s home.

While the search warrant was carried out in their home, the Cochrans visited their neighbors. Inside the home, Frizzo, MSP, and private investigators found evidence of blood spatter on a ceiling that had been painted over. They also found several weapons in the home including guns, knives, and a baseball bat. They did not find Chris Regan, but Frizzo hoped the blood splatter evidence would be proven to be Chris’s blood. The blood, however, was too damaged by cleaning agents and paint to be used for DNA. In fact, the lab could not determine if it was human or animal blood (Dead North, 2018).

However, the search warrant spooked Jason and Kelly. They disappeared the next day. Luckily, the private investigators assisting with the case had put a GPS tracking device on the vehicle and was able to tell Frizzo the couple was in Indiana. They went back to their hometown. Frizzo was convinced they were running from the inevitable arrest. Unfortunately, however, the evidence at the house was not enough to arrest the couple. It was, however, enough to get a warrant for DNA.

The neighbors that had sat with the Cochrans while the home was searched had information they felt Frizzo should know. The neighbors, a man and his nephew, told Frizzo that around October 14th their grandmother had heard what she thought was a gunshot coming from Kelly and Jason’s home. They stated that after that night Jason and Kelly were frequently using power tools in the middle of the night to remodel their home. They didn’t think much of it until they learned of Chris Regan’s disappearance. What they told Frizzo next sent chills down her spine.

The Cochran’s had always been strapped for cash and barely getting by. Jason did not work, and the couple had limited resources despite Kelly working multiple jobs. However, in the days following Chris’s disappearance, the couple had invited them over several times for dinner and barbecues. They described the couple serving tons of meat, which they had never done before. They reported the meat was not hamburger and that Jason told them he had experience as a butcher with exotic meats. The neighbors now believed they had been served the cooked remains of Chris Regan (Dead North, 2018).

Kelly and Jason were now living in northern Indiana where they were originally from. They were close to friends and family. The county police cooperated with Frizzo and the request from Iron River to obtain DNA swabs from Jason and Kelly Cochran. Although the DNA was successfully obtained, the couple still refused to talk to Frizzo.

Another of the couple’s former neighbors stated that around the middle of October 2014. Kelly and Jason were burning something that smelled absolutely putrid in a fire pit behind their house. The neighbor explained that he had burned rubber and various other items, but nothing ever smelled as bad as what the Cochran’s were burning in a barrel in October 2014. The burn pit was identified in their backyard and the burn barrel extracted from the Caspian pit (Dead North, 2018). Inside the burn pit were a burnt blade from a saw and metal parts of a pair of jeans. They could not positively link either to Chris Regan.

Additional searches of the former home of Jason and Kelly revealed a rabbit’s foot. Terri confirmed to Frizzo that it belonged to Chris Regan. More evidence that Kelly and Jason were involved, but nothing conclusive. They also found a notebook with a story written by Jason. The story described a main character much like Jason, who was a psychopathic murderer (Phelps, 2019). More circumstantial evidence, but nothing conclusive. Laura Frizzo kept digging and searching, despite the lack of support from the city and state.

On February 20th, 2016, Kelly Cochran dialed 911. Her husband was minimally responsive, turning blue, and vomiting (Phelps, 2019). The first responders tried to revive Jason Cochran but were unable. He was dead. The autopsy on Jason Cochran revealed he had massive doses of heroin in his system, enough to have caused his death. However, he also had petechial hemorrhaging suggesting he had been smothered (Phelps, 2019). His death was ruled a homicide.

Indiana detective Jeremy Ogden was assigned to the case. He interviewed Kelly Cochran about the day her husband died. She described waking up to him “not snoring” as he usually did (Dead North, 2018), at which point she said he started vomiting and turning blue. She gave several stories that contradicted each other in relation to details. Jeremy Ogden was sure that Kelly Cochran had murdered her husband. He was also in contact with Laura Frizzo. Ogden and Frizzo began to work together.

Jeremy Ogden developed a trusting relationship with Kelly. Then he used some old-fashioned police deception to push Kelly. A friend of Jason’s had come forth and agreed to act as a confidential informant through the FBI. He believed that Kelly was responsible for Jason’s death and wanted to help. In Investigation Discovery’s documentary on this case, Dead North, footage of a call between the informant and Kelly is shown. The informant claims that Jason sent him a letter before his death and told him to send it if something were to happen to him. The informant told Kelly the letter was addressed to the Iron River Police Department. Kelly’s reaction was telling. She said, “Please Don’t” (Dead North, 2018).

Eventually, out of fear of being caught, Kelly agreed to talk to Detective Ogden. She said she knew what happened to Chris Regan. She would tell bits and pieces over time, while throwing blatant lies in just to mess with the detectives (Phelps, 2019). She said that Chris came over to her home on October 14th, 2014. She graphically described performing oral sex on him and then having intercourse. She claimed that as they were having sex, Jason shot Chris Regan. She said that Jason was the aggressor, and she was not aware he was even home. She claimed she was afraid of her husband and he forced her to clean up after he dismembered Chris’s body in front of her.

She led police to a county road and remote area in the woods where she claimed Chris’s body parts had been discarded. They were unable to locate any remains at first. The investigators felt Kelly was toying with them again. However, she eventually led them to an area where police K-9s located a skull. It was positively identified as Chris Regan. Chris Regan’s body had finally been found. Kelly then showed detective Frizzo a pair of forceps at her former home that she said she used to dig the bullet out of Chris’s head. The forceps tested positive for Chris Regan’s blood. She told the investigators that the motive was a pact her husband and her made on their wedding night: If either cheated, it was their responsibility to kill that person (Dead North, 2018).

In October 2016, Kelly Cochran was charged with murder for Chris Regan’s death along with other charges in relation to the crime (Gmiter, 2016). She rejected multiple plea offers and opted to go to trial. She was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Kelly was also charged with the murder of Jason Cochran. She plead guilty and was sentenced to sixty-five years in prison to run consecutively to her Michigan sentence (Phelps, 2019). She admitted to injecting him with heroin before suffocating him.

After her arrest, Kelly continued to tell a variety of different stories that shocked authorities. In a recording shown in the Dead North documentary, Kelly’s brother described the possibility that Kelly may have killed many more individuals in the past along with her deceased husband. Both had allegedly had many affairs and it is believed they may have murdered at least nine people and fed their remains to “organic pigs” they raised in Indiana (Phelps, 2019). Kelly later implies that she was the mastermind behind her husband and Chris’s murder, describes herself as a psychopath, and expresses zero remorse for her actions. She states kindness is “not in my DNA” (Dead North, 2018). In an audio clip shared on the documentary, Kelly talks to her mom about being a serial killer and that she believes she was born this way (Dead North, 2018).

While filming the documentary, Dead North, Laura Frizzo was re-enacting the discovery of Chris Regan’s skull when the camera crew discovered another bone. The lower jawbone of Chris Regan was found while filming. Laura Frizzo is visibly shaken in the documentary and cries on camera (Dead North, 2018). Thanks to the hard work of Laura Frizzo and Jeremy Ogden, Chris’s family and friends finally got the closure and justice they deserved.

Despite closing the case of Chris Regan’s disappearance, Laura Frizzo was fired from her job as the police chief of Iron River (Phelps, 2019). In December 2016, the city manager terminated her employment due to “irreconcilable differences” (Lopez, 2016). However, Laura Frizzo firmly believes it is because she refused to back down on the case of Chris Regan and because the city manager discriminates against women (Dead North, 2018).

Despite her professional set back, Laura Frizzo found love. She and Jeremy Ogden met and fell in love while investigating and hunting down Kelly Cochran. They are still together to this day. (Below: Laura Frizzo and Jeremy Ogden)


Meanwhile, Kelly Cochran is in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections housed at Huron Valley Women’s Complex (MDOC, 2021). She is quite possibly a serial killer with at least two confirmed murders. Kelly is a master manipulator, pathological liar, and self-described psychopath. Because of the tenacity of Laura Frizzo, she will never be free again.

(Kelly Cochran)


References

Lopez, M. (2016) Iron River police chief fired by city manager; TV6 Fox UP; Retrieved at: Iron River Police Chief fired by City Manager (uppermichiganssource.com)

MDOC (2021) Michigan Department of Corrections; Inmate Search: Kelly Marie Cochran; Retrieved at: Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS) - Offender Profile (state.mi.us)

Michigan Back County Search and Rescue (accessed 2016) What Happened to Chris Regan; Retrieved at: Chris Regan's Missing Person Website (mibsar.com)

Locker, M. (2016) Is This Indiana Woman a Serial Killer?; Rolling Stone; Retrieved at: Is This Indiana Woman a Serial Killer? - Rolling Stone

Tributes.com (2016) Jason Thad Cochran; Retrieved at: Jason Cochran Obituary - Merrillville, Indiana - Tributes.com

Gmiter, T. (2016) Woman charged in Upper Peninsula murder after skull, teeth found near trail; MLive; Retrieved at: Woman charged in Upper Peninsula murder after skull, teeth found near trail - mlive.com

Phelps, M. (2019) Where Monsters Hide; Pinnacle True Crime; available for purchase at: Where Monsters Hide: Sex, Murder, and Madness in the Midwest: Phelps, M. William: 9780786044733: Amazon.com: Books

Dead North (2018) Dead North; Investigation Discovery; Retrieved from Amazon Prime

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