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 at 12:30 a.m. 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, said judges had ignored his pleas to get the children away from her nephew's ex-wife. She said that 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. when he arrived at his home in the 14000 block of Wilson Hollow Road, 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.
To read more about this story CLICK HERE.