When Iron River Police Chief, Laura Frizzo, received a tip that Christopher Regan was having an affair with a married woman, she thought a love triangle was possibly behind Regan’s disappearance.
The case soon spiraled into a cat-and-mouse hunt across two states spanning multiple murders, allegations of cannibalism and the arrest of a possible serial killer. “Dead North,” an Investigation Discovery two-part docu-series, chronicled the investigation through hours of body cam and interrogation footage. “Nightline” spoke to the duo who followed the haunting clues to crack the case.
After Regan went missing from Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula in October 2014, Frizzo questioned his former lover, Kelly Cochran and her husband, Jason Cochran.
“Watching and listening to the interviews, at that point I knew that something wasn't right. There was most definitely a possibility of their involvement,” Frizzo told “Nightline.”
Soon after Frizzo’s team searched and gathered evidence from their house, Jason and Kelly Cochran fled to Indiana, leaving everything behind.
Their neighbors informed Frizzo that the couple had started doing strange things around the time Regan went missing, like using power tools in the middle of the night. They also invited them for a big barbeque dinner with lots of meat, which raised eyebrows.
“It was definitely something I never ate before. It was like a transparent kind of meat, like a lobster or shrimp,” neighbor David Saylor said in an interview for “Dead North.” “We were always wondering if they were the kind of people that actually did kill the guy and butchered him up and had us over for dinner. I believe we ate him.”
“That was the first time I was ever brought to think that they could have dismembered him. I just sat back in my chair listening and thinking, ‘This can't be,’" said Frizzo.
As Frizzo’s team struggled to make headway in Regan’s disappearance, authorities in Indiana received a 9-1-1 call that sparked their own investigation – into the death of Jason Cochran.
He had a large amount of heroin in his body and appeared to overdose, but the autopsy report ruled that his cause of death was actually from asphyxiation.
“I kept thinking that something was going to happen. Either he's going to kill her and kill himself,” said Frizzo. “I just kept thinking someone's going to end up dead. And it happened.”
Jeremy Ogden, the Hobart Indiana detective on the Jason Cochran case, knew about Christopher Regan’s disappearance in Michigan and came up with a plan to get Kelly Cochran to cooperate in that investigation before arresting her for her husband’s murder. As a red herring, he got Walt Ammerman, Jason Cochran’s close friend, to pretend that he received a letter from him just before his death with a note asking him to mail an unopened letter to the Iron River Police Department in case something happened to him.
“You hear her with this big sigh and then she kind of starts to suck it back up and gain composure again. And the next thing you know, it's, ‘Do what you have to do,’” Ogden told “Nightline.”
After the call, Kelly Cochran called Ogden to say she wanted to meet in person where she eventually claimed that her husband had killed Regan.
“I finally got her to admit that she lured Chris Regan to the house,” he said. “She said that [she] and Jason had this pact on the night of their wedding that if one cheated on the other that it was the responsibility of the one who cheated to kill their lover. And that if they didn't do it that the spouse could then kill them.”
She claimed that Jason Cochran had shot Regan and agreed to take Chief Frizzo to where his dismembered parts were buried.
“Indescribable, really!” said Frizzo about the moment her team found the plastic bag that contained Regan’s remains. “I really felt for a minute, is this really happening? Is it really him? I've been looking for so long and thinking, ‘I'm never going to find him.’”
While Kelly Cochran was charged with six felony counts including homicide in connection to the death of Regan and a separate charge in the murder of her husband, Police Chief Frizzo and Detective Ogden believe that she masterminded at least two murders.
“I don't know the number, but it's not as great as what she's claimed. She claimed at one time she killed 21 people to me,” said Ogden.
Convicted on all charges, she received a life sentence for her involvement in Regan’s murder. In May, she was sentenced to an additional 65 years in prison for Jason Cochran’s death.
Ironically, the murder case has created a new life for the two main investigators -- who are now engaged to be married.
“I knew I was right,” said Frizzo, who is no longer the police chief in Iron River, Michigan.
“I knew I had to keep going,” she said. “All of a sudden Jeremy entered the picture. In my mind it was like, ‘You were supposed to meet him. And now I can give you closure,’” said Frizzo,.
“Something good came out of something so horrible.”