"Lots of people tell you time heals. It doesn't. It's as painful now as it was 15 years ago. It doesn't get any easier"
Cheryl Pickett wiped away tears and her voice quivered as she spoke. She was responding to a reporter's question asking why she had called the Indiana State Police Cold Case Team.
Her December 2002 request resulted in the press conference held yesterday in Brazil by the Cold Case Team regarding the unsolved 1988, murder of Cheryl's 16-year-old daughter, Tonya Pickett, and husband, Ricky Mustard.
"We're convinced that the community has information they don't realize, that could directly or indirectly solve this case, Cold Case Det. Alan McElroy said. The original investigation centered on Mustard. We want to center it on Tonya."
McElroy and fellow Cold Case Team member Det. Sgt. M.L. (Bud) Allcron discussed Tonya and her family and described some events that transpired the night of Nov. 18, 1988.
According to McElroy, Tonya Pickett was a popular, well-liked student in her junior year at Northview High School. She was a good student, in the top 20 percent of her class. She was active in the winter guard and drill team. Besides school activities, Tonya spent a lot of time with her boyfriend of two years, senior John Lovett.
Northview had a new building. They were hosting their first home basketball game which was followed by a dance. Tonya and John attended both. They went to McDonald's Restaurant after they left the dance. Tonya returned home between 11:15 and 11:30 p.m.
Ricky Mustard, a former Marine, was employed by Oxide Chemical. He was recuperating from a motorcycle accident of July 23, 1988. Mustard had been at home all evening, alone, that rainy, Friday night. His wife, Cheryl Pickett, was at her job in Greencastle, working the evening shift.
Sometime after midnight, both Ricky and Tonya were murdered in their home. They were killed with a shotgun.
McElroy said apparently during the original investigation an anonymous tip took investigators down a particular road in which drugs were thought to be involved.
"That may not be wrong," McElroy said. "But we'd like to go in a new area."
The police would not comment on many inquiries but did say two or three search warrants had been served in the last six months.
While previous suspects are not ruled out, the police team said at this time, everyone is considerd to be a suspect.
McElroy stated that they had a lot of physical evidence in the lab at Indianapolis at this time. Testing is being done but is not yet completed. DNA could be a factor.
"We'd like to know more about what was going on in Tonya's life. What was she telling her friends? What was happening in her life during that week and that night in her life?"
"We were best friends," Cheryl Pickett said about her only child. "We were inseparable."
Her voice cracked and tears rolled unhindered down her checks.
"If anybody has any information, please come forward and talk to the police. I'd like to be able to find some closure."
Anyone with information may contact the homicide detectives at 448-9999, Brazil City Police Dept. at 446-2211, Clay County Sheriff's Dept. at 448-9048 or Terre Haute State Police Post at 800-742-0717.