Former Gilmer resident kills himself after assaulting women
(Ed. note: This article is taken from a longer story in the Pickens Progress.)
A man authorities say hung himself after kidnapping and sexually assaulting women in south Georgia was a former Pickens High School student also facing child molestation and drug charges in Pickens County.
Bradley Justin Cochran, 40, who also lived in Ellijay and Cherry Log at one time, was released on bond from the Pickens County Adult Detention Center last September. Under conditions of his bond in a 2017 child molestation case, Cochran was required to enroll in a program at Journey to Sober Living, a “recovery residence” in Statesboro.
Cochran checked himself out of the facility late last month and checked into a hotel just nine hours before kidnapping three Georgia Southern University students at knifepoint at a Food World grocery store in Statesboro on Aug. 26, according to the Statesboro Police Department. Cochran was found dead the next day in Metter from apparent suicide by hanging.
Statesboro Police Community Information Specialist Madison Warren told the Progress prior to the assault, Cochran forced the driver out of the front seat and drove the women to an ATM machine, where he made them withdraw money. Warren said one of the victims jumped out of the moving vehicle and ran to a restaurant where she called police.
According to the GBI, which was called in for assistance, Cochran forced the other two women to drive into Candler County where he sexually assaulted them in a remote, isolated area. The women were able to escape on foot and call 911.
Cochran fled the area in the stolen vehicle. His body was found Monday, Aug. 27, at an abandoned residence where authorities believed he hanged himself.
“Our officers were amazed by their strength and bravery,” a statement from the Statesboro Police said. “These women were just minding their own business, trying to leave the parking lot, when a stranger threatened them with a knife and forced his way into their vehicle.
“Despite being in a terrifying, and potentially deadly situation, these women kept their wits about them. They were able to create a diversion so one of them could escape, from a moving vehicle, to get help … and most likely saved their lives.”