Marsha Cocot

Marsha Cocot, pictured in center

Woman Found Dead in Gas-Filled Home

June 14, 2011

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Emergency workers found a woman dead from a possible homicide after arriving at a South Bend house filled with natural gas.

Police say officers went to the home to check on the well-being of a woman Monday evening after her husband attempted suicide in Elkhart with an overdose of drugs and alcohol.

St. Joseph County Sheriff Mike Grzegorek tells WNDU-TV that investigators are trying to determine how 38-year-old Marsha Cocot died and whether the gas filling the house was meant to cover up a crime.

Utility crews shut off the gas line to the home and some nearby residents were evacuated from their homes for a time until the gas dispersed.

Grzegorek tells WSBT-TV that firefighters wearing respirators found Cocot's body while searching the house.


St. Joseph County Metro Homicide arrested Brian Cocot, 38, on a preliminarily charge of murder in relation to the death of his wife Marsha Cocot, 38.

A Tuesday morning autopsy determined Marsha Cocot died of asphyxiation and blunt force trauma sometime before 5:00 p.m. Monday.

Marsha Cocot was found in the 19700 block of Southland Avenue in St. Joseph County after officials responded to a gas leak inside her home around 5:30 p.m.

It’s believed that Cocot intentionally caused the gas leak to cover-up his wife’s death. Neighbors close to police say Cocot dumped gallons of gasoline throughout the house and ripped open natural gas lines before fleeing the home.

Only hours before Cocot’s wife was found, Elkhart Police responded to a suicide attempt and found Brian Cocot apparently trying to overdose on alcohol and pills.

Paramedics rushed Cocot to Elkhart General Hospital. He is currently being held at the St. Joseph County Jail until the Prosecutor’s Office reviews the case for formal charging.

If there is one thing about Southland Avenue that sticks out, it’s that people mind their own business.

"There were some internal problems going on there, but it's not my business, so I left it at that,” neighbor Kurt Vogler said.

Last year, neighbors say Brian Cocot took a sledgehammer to his interior attic walls in a fit of anger. That damage can still be seen poking out of the home’s roof.

"Brian went out of his way to do things for other people. It's just that you could see the aggressive side with Marsha and his dogs,” neighbor William Pellow said.

The shock of it all came with guilt.

"Instinctively I knew better. Something kept nagging at me, telling me something was wrong and I didn't listen to what I should have listened to,” neighbor Jan Cohen said.

Neighbors say the sound of fighting coming from the home increased with time in the quiet neighborhood.

"We're living across the street and we had no clue. We were completely oblivious as we're working or watching TV or cooking dinner. All throughout, this woman is going through God knows what, with a poor excuse for a man that murdered her,” Cohen added.

If this murder can teach people anything, it might just be to take more ownership in their neighbor's business.

"I let her down; we all let her down, shame on me,” Cohen concluded.

The gas leak was not the home’s first criminal incident, St. Joseph County Police responded twice in the last two weeks in reference to threat reports.

Neighbors say the mounting tension had a lot to do with Cocot's wife Marsha and a girlfriend he kept on the side.

Emergency workers say this incident could have ended much worse.  Simply put, the gas pressure inside the home was such that firefighters believe an explosion was imminent. Such a blast would have sent debris in every direction and likely taken out other homes on the block.


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