DeSoto, MO (KSDK) - Jefferson County authorities believe the shooting deaths of a mother and her three children to be a murder-suicide, based on evidence found at the scene.
The mother, 32-year-old Lisa Cochran, and her three children were found shot to death at a home just outside the DeSoto city limits. The victims were identified as 11-year-old Alyssa Cochran, 10-year-old Autumn Cochran and 22-month-old Faith Ehlen. Lisa Cochran's estranged boyfriend, Christopher Ehlen, is the father of the youngest child.
Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver "Glenn" Boyer said Christopher Ehlen arrived at his home around 12:30 a.m. Thursday and saw the car in front of his home, which he believed to be Lisa Cochran's. He left and contacted authorities in order to avoid violating an order of protection Cochran had against him.
Deputies came to the scene and found the children dead in a vehicle parked in front of the home. The woman's body was found at the bottom of the steps leading up to the home.
All four of the victims had been shot in the head. Sheriff Boyer said a 12-gauge shotgun was found next to the woman's body.
Boyer said Lisa Cochran sent an email to family members and her estranged boyfriend Wednesday night just before 7:55 p.m. The subject line of the email said "Goodbye" and the body of the message contained some language that made police believe she had been contemplating taking her life and the lives of the children.
The woman had previously lived at the home of her estranged boyfriend.
Boyer said the estranged boyfriend has been very cooperative with investigators and was never considered a suspect.
The weapon used in the crime, a Mossberg 500 All Purpose Field Shotgun, was recently purchased at the Walmart in Arnold.
The father of the other two children is an ex-husband.
Alyssa was a sixth grader at Antonia Middle School. Counselors have been on hand to help students who need extra support and want to talk to an adult.
The school sent home a letter to parents letting them know about the tragedy.
Here are some resources for anyone who needs help:
Behavioral Health Response-Eastern Region of Missouri
St. Louis County Youth Connection Helpline
St. Charles County Youth Connection Helpline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline