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Troubled mom in Missouri kills 3 daughters, herself

By Leah Thorsen and Kim Bell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch –

DE SOTO, Mo. — A woman who fatally shot her three daughters and herself with a shotgun she bought last week had threatened suicide before, according to authorities and a woman who knew her.

Authorities believe Lisa Cochran, 32, shot each of her daughters — Alyssa Cochran, 11, Autumn Cochran, 10, and Faith Ehlen, 22 months — in the head. They were found in Cochran’s vehicle outside her ex-boyfriend’s home south of De Soto.

She then shot and killed herself near the steps to the home.

Their bodies were found early Thursday after Cochran’s estranged boyfriend, Christopher Ehlen, arrived home. Ehlen is Faith’s father. Cochran’s ex-husband, Vincent Cochran, is the father of the two older girls.

“We knew she was unstable,” said Tammy Martin, Vincent Cochran’s aunt. “She threatened suicide numerous times.”

Martin, of Arnold, Mo., said judges had ignored Cochran’s pleas to get his children away from his ex-wife. She said her nephew suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in Iraq and that his ex-wife used that to convince a judge that he should get only supervised visits.

Efforts to reach Lisa Cochran’s family were not successful Thursday.

“He loved his little girls,” Martin said through tears. “And they loved him.”

Alyssa was a sixth-grader at Antonia Middle School and Autumn was a fifth-grader at Antonia Elementary School, said Todd Scott, assistant superintendent of the Fox School District.

Scott said the district’s crisis team visited the schools Thursday to offer grief counseling to students and will continue to offer counseling as needed.

“We’re deeply saddened by this incident, and we want to try to help our students deal with the grief,” Scott said.

Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer said Cochran sent an email to her family members, friends and ex-boyfriend around 8 p.m. Wednesday indicating she was considering murder-suicide.

She “couldn’t take it any more,” according to the email. The subject line of the email was “goodbye,” Boyer said.

It wasn’t clear when Cochran and her children had died, and Boyer said there was no indication that any of the email recipients had read the message in time to do anything.

Near Cochran’s body, authorities found a 12-gauge shotgun she had bought Aug. 29 at a Walmart in Arnold, Boyer said.

“That information, the purchase of the shotgun and compiling everything we have so far, leads us to believe we’re dealing with a murder-suicide and not a homicide,” Boyer said.

Ehlen told deputies he found Cochran’s vehicle parked in his driveway about 12:30 a.m. Thursday when he arrived at his De Soto home, near the Washington County line.

Cochran had lived with Ehlen but recently was living elsewhere with relatives. She had a current order of protection against Ehlen, claiming that he called her a bully and a “psycho” on Aug. 11.

Ehlen didn’t want to get in trouble for being near her, so he backed away from his home Thursday morning and called for a deputy, Boyer said.

Authorities arrived and found the three girls and their mother dead.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 38 years, and unfortunately I’ve had to witness a couple of these incidents similar to this, and this was just as horrific as anything I’ve seen in my 38 years,” Boyer said.

Police questioned Ehlen as a witness. Boyer said he was cooperative.

Ehlen works as an engineer for the Jefferson County Public Works Department.

The Cochrans married on Feb. 14, 2001. Alyssa was 4 months old and Autumn was born eight months later. The couple separated in 2008; the divorce was final in 2009.

Lisa Cochran refused to let Alyssa and Autumn see their father, he claimed in divorce papers. Vincent Cochran also accused her of taking “several different paramours” while he was in Iraq.

They almost divorced in 2004 but reconciled before it was final, according to court documents.

In two requests for orders of protection against her ex-husband, Cochran accused him of threatening to kill her, drinking Jack Daniels while driving their daughters around and abusing drugs. Both orders were granted.

Vincent Cochran accused his ex-wife of not letting him see his girls.

She got the order of protection against Ehlen on Aug. 13. “He has mental breakdowns every couple months and screams at me, calling me names … ” she wrote. “Every time he loses his temper it gets worse.”

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