The woman who first suggested blogger Clayton Kelly could be persuaded to float the scandalous Cochran narrative that the senator was having an affair was a volunteer staffer on the Chris McDaniel campaign and a big contributor.

Nearly 80 pages of Facebook messages obtained Monday as part of Kelly's conspiracy trial that ended last week in a plea bargain show that the woman, Elaine Vechorik of Sturgis, talked with others about exposing Cochran as early as February 2014.

The 29-year-old Kelly would eventually be tasked with sneaking into St. Catherine's Village - with the help of a Ridgeland attorney who was vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party - and obtaining an image of an infirmed Rose Cochran, wife of the senator.

The Ridgeland attorney, Mark Mayfield, went on to commit suicide before any indictments were handed down in connection with the nursing home break-in. While Vechorik was never formally charged, four others were, including Kelly, Mayfield, Richard Sager of Laurel and John Bert Mary of Hattiesburg, the apparent ring leader and former radio show host with McDaniel.

Kelly, an avid McDaniel supporter who once considered working for the U.S. senatorial challenger, thought he was helping the campaign and was eager to do so, the records show, but later wrote that the image of the infirmed Rose Cochran might have gone too far. A video containing the image was posted on his Constitutional Clayton blog briefly and received about 60 views.

The Facebook messages show that Kelly was ordered to remove the Cochran hit piece at the insistence of the "big man" because even some of McDaniel's supporters were appalled, according to what Sager wrote to Kelly.

Once the backlash from the video began, Kelly was being consoled by the gang and told that the campaign's reaction was just show.

"They like it being exposed," Sager told Kelly of the McDaniel camp distancing itself from the video. "Just publicly it has to be done like this."

The Facebook messages also reflect an attempt on the part of the conspirators in the beginning, as McDaniel supporters, to distance themselves from Kelly, going so far as to ask Kelly to stop posting and remove pro-McDaniel comments on social media.

The conspiracy began in earnest on Feb. 5, 2014, according to the messages that were entered as evidence, when Vechorik was having a Facebook conversation with Hattiesburg talk radio host John Bert Mary, a.k.a. John Bert, about "investigative work" in an attempt to expose an alleged affair between Cochran and his longtime aide Kay Webber.

That's when Vechorik introduced Mary to Kelly via Facebook, the records show.

A day later, Mary was having a Facebook conversation with Richard Sager, a P.E. teacher from Laurel, about their "investigation."

"I'm gonna give you a call tomorrow night and we can start hammering this guy," Sager wrote.

The next day the three were all Facebook friends and they began having conversations.

Less than a week later, Mary was issuing marching orders to Kelly, telling him to have "no more contact with the campaign" and to remove Twitter and Facebook posts.

"What we are going to do will be EXPLOSIVE," he told Kelly. "The other side will be hunting for ANY connection to you."
It wasn't until March 15 when Mary announced a change in plans, to use an image of Rose Cochran in the video.

"(I)f everything goes as planned we will have something to add to the video which will CHANGE EVERYTHING," he wrote to Kelly. "EARTH SHATTERING."

Kelly was still in the dark, saying he heard about something but didn't know what it was.

"I am not about to discuss it here or anywhere for that matter," Mary wrote. "Suffice it to say it will blow ur mind."

On March 19, Mary sent Kelly a link to Mayfield's Facebook page and told him not to communicate with him there. The same day, Mary asked Mayfield if he could obtain a photo of Rose.

Mayfield, prominent in the Republican Party and a member of the Madison County GOP executive committee, responded, "Gonna be a challenge. Security camera right outside the door."

"Wear a cap and glasses...and look down never straight ahead while within view of cameras," Mary said.

"Can't commit," Mayfield said. "I can get someone in the building and is (sic) the room if you know someone who would do it."

That's when Mary suggested using Kelly.

Eight days later, Mayfield told Mary that Kelly should be expecting a call soon. From whom is still unknown exactly. Mayfield's mother had been in the same unit but had just died.

Kelly said the calls were blocked and Mary told him to answer, even jokingly referring to Kelly as "Mr. Secret Agent."

The anonymous caller gave Kelly a virtual layout and how to get in.

April 6 was the first trip to St. Catherine's Village for Kelly, but he was turned around because of a viral outbreak. He tried again April 14 but there weren't many visitors and he "was sticking out like a sore thumb."

A day later Mary withdrew himself from the operation.

"I am bowing out," he told Kelly. "Others will be taking my place that can assist. I am sending Rick some info...he will talk to you.

"Things are changing," he continued. "OK...THAT is why I am getting out." (He would later initially deny to the Madison police any involvement before recanting and pleading guilty.)

As Mary was bowing out, he put Sager in touch with Noel Fritsch, McDaniel's communications director.

"Will you let Noel know I deleted his friends request as I do not want ANY connection between him and I that is visible to anyone on public media...and in fact I have never had any contact with him to date," Mary wrote.

It was decided that Easter Sunday (April 20) was the new date since St. Catherine's would likely be full of visitors. They even talked about the possibility of the Senator being there on that day.

Kelly got the image and on April 25 rushed to get the video out.

At 3:43 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, Sager was offering his critique of the video and said it sounded like Kelly was reading a script.

And at 7:47 a.m., Sager said "That picture is killer." An hour later Sager told Mary to tell Kelly to pull the video.
"Chris not happy. Delete everything," he said.
Early morning the three scrambled to wipe everything from the internet.

"They said to pull the (video) u made," Mary said at 11:08 a.m. "I have not seen it.

Kelly said, "It was so hardcore that even his supporters were appalled." Minutes later he said "maybe it went too far."

Kelly was arrested on May 16, 2014, and that Saturday morning McDaniel denied knowing about the video, although Cochran staffers later released a recording of McDaniel's spokesperson leaving a message saying Chris McDaniel wanted to talk to Sen. Cochran about the video.

"I've never laid eyes on the video, but what I was sure of is that that was not anything that our campaign was going to be about," McDaniel said on SuperTalk Mississippi in May 2014.

Vechorik early on had said Kelly could stir things up on his blog. "He could just ask questions, tell story and show pictures...," she wrote, according to the records obtained from the Madison County District Attorney's Office.

She went on later to suggest, "He's good talking - would tell it like investigative story without definitely saying true, asking questions, he's pretty good at that - says 'I think, but you believe what you want' kinda thing."

In May 2014, four people were charged with a criminal conspiracy to sneak into St. Catherine's and photograph Rose Cochran, who has dementia and has been living here for nearly 15 years.

Mayfield was originally charged with conspiracy but committed suicide before his case was presented to a grand jury. Sager was originally charged with conspiracy and evidence tampering. He pleaded guilty in late-2014 to conspiracy in exchange for pre-trial diversion. Mary, the apparent orchestrater of the plot, was originally charged with conspiracy and pleaded guilty in exchange for five years probation.

Sen. Cochran in June of that year defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the primary runoff by over 7,000 votes and later won the general election for another six-year term.

As for Vechorik, Federal Election Commission reports show a $2,599 refund to her that was initially disbursed for payroll before later being clarified as a refund, the Journal reported last July.

Vechorik at the time denied she was ever a staffer, saying being listed as a staffer was "computer glitch," while the campaign called the disbursement a "clerical error."

Records show Vechorik donated $2,599 to McDaniel in the general election and $2,600 to the primary election on Oct. 17, 2013.

Her husband, Craig Vechorik, also donated $2,600 to the primary, records show.

District Attorney Michael Guest said Elaine Vechorik was questioned but there was no evidence at the time to charge her in the nursing home conspiracy.