WARREN, Maine — A 79-year-old inmate at the Maine State Prison who was serving a life sentence for a murder in Maine and who is believed to have killed his family in Illinois has died.
Albert P. Cochran died Tuesday morning at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, according to a press release from the Maine Department of Corrections.
Cochran, whose cause of death is being reviewed by Maine State Police and medical examiner, had served 18 years of a life sentence.
Cochran was convicted in 1999 of the murder of Janet Baxter on Nov. 23, 1976. At the time of the murder, Cochran had been living in Fairfield Center and was on parole after having served 11 years in prison in Illinois for murdering his wife in 1964. He also confessed to stabbing their three small children to death in the same incident, but those murder charges were dropped on a technicality, according to prior reports in the Bangor Daily News.
According to a 1964 story in the Chicago Tribune, Cochran, who was 25 at the time, told police in Joliet, Ill., that he had been suicidal before and after the death of his wife, with whom he was recently separated from and who was suing him for financial support. Cochran later refused to take a lie detector test administered by police, who were trying to figure out at the time whether Cochran also had killed his children.
Cochran was quoted in the Tribune story as saying, “There’s no reason to take a lie test. It wouldn’t prove anything. I hope the state will do what I didn’t have the nerve to do — execute me.”
Cochran also was linked to the December 1976 disappearance of Pauline Rourke, who at the time was living with Cochran in mobile home in Fairfield and was overheard by her daughter arguing with Cochran the night before she disappeared. Rourke had been scheduled to be interviewed by state police as a possible witness against Cochran in the Baxter murder investigation.
DOC Commissioner Joseph Fitzpatrick, while he could not disclose details, said Wednesday morning that Cochran’s death, because of his old age, “was not an unexpected death.”