Kelly Cochran and the Benton Harbor House of David

Random Michigan and mayhem. You know you want it.

This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories.  Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast-talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words.  Those happen on this show, a lot.

Episode 4: Kelly Cochran and the Benton Harbor House of David

Warning: This podcast occasionally contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children.

  • Alerts:
    • Pretend podcast music (because we couldn’t find any we liked enough for a theme song)
    • Ali has a weird laugh. It is often loud.
  • Kelly Cochran of Michigan
    • Married to Jason Cochran and having an affair with Chris Regan
    • 2014 Chris Regan goes missing, police are unable to locate his body
    • 2016, Kelly’s husband died by what looked like an overdose
      • Police determine it was murder
    • Later in the investigation, Kelly later admits that her and her husband, Jason, made a pact to kill anyone that they had affairs with
      • How do insane couples find each other? Is there a special dating app for that?
        • Keep an eye on anyone willing to make a death pact with you. They might just kill you too.
        • How is she going to find a new murder pact man? There is a vacancy for the position.
      • Kelly admits to having Chris over to the house, shooting him and dismembering him
      • They then left his body parts scattered in a wooded area
      • Kelly also admits to injecting her husband with a lethal dose of heroine and then smothering him with a pillow
        • She was mad at her husband for killing Chris, as she had developed feelings for him
      • April 2017, Kelly is sentenced to 65 years for the death of her husband
        • May 2017, she is sentenced to life for the murder of her lover, Chris Regan
      • THE TWIST: Neighbors believe Kelly served parts of Chris’s body to them during a barbeque she hosted
  • Benton Harbor House of David
    • Cult/commune in Benton Harbor, MI
    • Established in March 1903
      • Co-founded by Mary and Benjamin Purnell
    • In 1888, the Purnells joined an assembly known as the “Visitation Movement”
      • In March 1895, the Purnells announced the spirit of Shiloh had bonded with them/just Ben so they had become the 7th and last messenger of God, and fire and brimstone awaited those that didn’t believe it
      • They were cast out of that cult
    • Colony rules: no tobacco, alcohol, or personal property
      • The strict rules were supposed to lead to eternal life
      • No sex even for procreation, married couples who entered were to consider each other as siblings (no wonder membership went down)
      • Killing is a sin, so no meat or going to war
      • No shaving or cutting hair, men included
      • Click here for House of David Baseball Museum to see pictures of men with beautiful flowing hair playing baseball
    • A world-famous zoo and amusement park (Springs of Eden park)
      • Popular in the 1930’s
      • They had their own power plant, it was like they were their own city
      • The park was reopened successfully in 2011
    • Ali mentions the TV show Silver Spoons, everyone should watch it
    • In the 1923 and 1927 formal charges of sex abuse were brought against Ben
      • 13 young women confessed under oath that Benjamin, the husband, had had sexual relations with them while they were minors
      • The girls said they were told that sex with him/possibly other male members were a necessary step for salvation/ purification right
      • Some girls were as young as 10 at the time
      • Authorities had been trying to reach him for a while, but he would often leave as they arrived
      • In 1927 a judge orders him to leave the cult and a month later, before he can be prosecuted, he dies
    • The cult splits into two factions
      • One group was led by co-founder Mary Purnell
        • In 1930 they purchased a small plot of land and reorganized themselves as New Israelite House of David (aka Mary’s City of David) until her death at age 90
      • The other portion of the cult was led by Judge T.H. Dewhirst
        • He didn’t believe in Mary’s authority, but he believed he had authority
        • They stay near Mary’s group in Benton Harbor, but the two sides don’t mix
      • Before the factions split they were playing competitive baseball as barnstorming teams (they toured rural America from the 1920’s – 1950’s)
        • They used the opportunities to spread their gospel and make money
        • In the late 20’s they hired pro ball players to spice things up and were known to do tricks (like the Harlem Globe Trotters of baseball)
        • They had a team of all black players cleverly called the Black House of David, because why be creative, that played Negro leagues
      • They’re part of the Michigan Triangle, as the Rosa Belle was found overturned on Lake Michigan. Nine to eleven members disappeared.  The boat disaster was found in the 1920’s, during the same time that Ben Purnell is being busted for sex crimes
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