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Man Sought in Ill. Slaying Kills Himself

June 5, 2006

BENTON, Ill. (AP) _ A man sought for questioning in the slaying of a federal prosecutor’s wife fatally shot himself as police closed in, authorities said.

Brian H. Cockrum, 42, died from a self-inflicted shotgun blast Sunday, three days after Cindy Leggans’ body was found inside his vehicle, according to Franklin County State’s Attorney Thomas Dinn.

Although Cockrum had not been charged in Leggans’ death, he had been identified by investigators as a ``person of interest.″

Police located him at a house Sunday, but he shot himself before they could get inside.

Dinn said items found in the house directly link Cockrum to the scene where Leggans’ body was found Thursday. The 33-year-old woman had been beaten to death and left in the vehicle in West City, less than a mile from her home.

Patrick Murphy, chief judge of the federal court’s Southern District of Illinois, which includes courts in Benton and East St. Louis, has said the slaying was not related to Tom Leggans’ work as a prosecutor.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Cockrum, an unemployed coal miner from Ina, knew Cindy Leggans. Court records show he had been arrested in December and accused of dragging her ``down the road by her hair.″ Court documents also indicated he once sought an order of protection against her. Cockrum’s father, Cliff Cockrum, said the two had a relationship.

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