No charges have been filed; search warrant issued
Autopsy results released by the Macon County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday showed that the cause of death for the body found in the Middle Burningtown home on Saturday, Aug. 2, was strangulation. The body of Day Williamson, 71, was found in the upstairs back bedroom following a fire that destroyed the home. Although the body was recovered after the fire was put out, the findings of strangulation as a cause of death means that Williamson was deceased before the fire.
Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland said that Charles Andrew Cochran, the inmate that escaped earlier this month remains a prime suspect. “At this time, no charges have been filed, but Cochran remains a prime suspect in both the fire and the death of Williamson. He is cooperating with our investigation,” said Holland on Tuesday.
Cochran is currently being held without bond at the detention center on charges stemming from a trespassing incident out of Colorado.
“We are conducting a full and thorough investigation at this time, and when that is complete, we will take all of our findings to the district attorney’s office to discuss what charges need to be filed,” said Holland.
Cochran, the prime suspect in the case, escaped custody from the Macon County Detention Center on July 30 while on trash detail. He was able to evade officers and escape into the woods. Cochran was on the run from authorities for five days until he was captured shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 5.
When authorities took Cochran into custody, he was read his rights, at which point he waived his rights and agreed to talk with investigators, confessing to stealing and driving a Chevy Tracker belonging to Williamson. The tracker was found abandoned about a mile away from a residence where Cochran was spotted near Cartoogechaye School on that Saturday night.
A search warrant issued by Judge Roy Wijewickrama shows that Cochran was searched by Macon County Detective Anthony Corbin. Corbin applied for the warrant to search the person, place, vehicle, and other items of Cochran. The warrant included a cheek swab to obtain DNA, major case prints for comparison, and 50 full length plucked head hairs.
According to documents on file at the Clerk of Court’s office, Corbin’s search warrant application includes probable cause based on information gleaned from an investigation that was launched after the August 2 house fire in Middle Burningtown. According to Corbin’s report, when Cochran was taken into custody at a residence on Green Street on Aug. 4, he was in possession of a .38 caliber revolver. The investigation also led authorities to the Gazebo Restaurant where a bag containing underwear, socks, ammunition, a clear jewelry box containing a gold and blue stone U.S. Navy ring, and a blue case containing a .40 caliber Beretta handgun with three clips containing hollow point bullets was found. The bag, along with its contents was identified by Day Williamson’s grandson, Chris Barham, as belonging to Williamson.
Based on the information gathered thus far, Detective Corbin believes with the DNA evidence collected through the search warrant, Cochran will be directly connected to the homicide of Williamson as well as additional crimes surrounding the incident, including a shooting that ocurred the same night at a residence on West Palmer Street.