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Monday, May 2, 2016

Grand Jury returns decision in cold case

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Officials take John Lovett, 37, Brazil, to the Clay County Justice Center Wednesday after he was indicted by a Grand Jury on two counts of murder for the Nov. 18, 1988, deaths of Tonya Pickett and Ricky Mustard. Courtesy Photo.
* Lovett indicted for both murders

Officials met with various family members and media outlets Wednesday at the Clay County Justice Center to announce an arrest had been made in a 20-year-old Clay County cold case.

During the news conference, special prosecutors David Powell and Delbert Brewer said John Lovett, 37, Brazil, was arrested Wednesday morning at a county residence and charged with two counts of murder.

John Lovett
A Grand Jury concluded its efforts recently regarding the murders of Tonya Pickett, 16, and her stepfather Ricky Mustard, 32, on Nov. 20, 1988.

"A lot of work. A tireless effort on their behalf," Powell said of the grand jury investigation. "We thank (the jury) for its work."

Joining Powell and Brewer at the press conference Wednesday were Indiana State Police Detectives Alan McElroy and Troy Stanton, ISP Sgt. Joe Watts and Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton.

Powell said Lovett was charged with two counts of murder and was arraigned in Clay County Circuit Court Wednesday morning. He is currently being held without bond in the Clay County Justice Center.

A trial date of 9 a.m., Aug. 4, 2008, has been scheduled.

Officials confirmed Lovett, then 18, was Pickett's "boyfriend" at the time of the murders.

"We believe the evidence would show that this was not a professional hit," Powell said.

"We knew there had been a lot of rumors for a lot of years," Brewer added. "That needed to be cleaned up too."

Brewer added the Grand Jury returned a non-indictment against Glenn Selsam, whom the original investigation had centered around.

Lovett was arrested in a subdivision north of Brazil off State Road 59.

Both Powell and Brewer said 1988 statutes apply to the case.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m., Nov. 18, 1988, Mustard and Pickett were discovered inside their home, 110 W. Pinckley St., Brazil, from apparent gunshot wounds to their heads.

On Wednesday, Powell said he would not comment on whether a weapon had been recovered but confirmed both died from shotgun blasts to the head and deer slugs had been used.

The Grand Jury began working on the case Feb. 26 and concluded work March 14.

State law prohibits the release of information provided to the Grand Jury, meaning officials at the press conference Wednesday could provide little detail.

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I won't comment too much on this case, so that it has a fair trial, but wow...i would have never in a million years thought that was a possibility.

-- Posted by gingersnap13 on Wed, Mar 19, 2008, at 9:54 PM

What kind of cops does brazil have i mean come on you wai 20 years to arrest a man for murder so how many more peaople are out the walking the streets when they should really be behind bars and its funny you always see the cops go after the lover of the victom. i think cops should have to go to school alittle longer befor they can carry a gun. this case has been but on the back burner for 20 years and out of the blue they have something to arrest this man on. i hope your case falls apart and you lose in court and this poor man gets to go on living his life.........

-- Posted by Joann2708 on Wed, Mar 19, 2008, at 10:29 PM

I remember the morning of when my dad woke me to tell me that tonya had been murdered. I was just shocked i couldn't believe it. Tonya's death shocked everyone at school. I remember the funeral and the impact that it had on everyone especially those closest to her. It truly saddens my heart.

A few weeks ago before this became a news story again my kids and i were talking about unsolved crimes in this area and was telling my kids about the story of tonya and her step dad and how it had even made national media. I showed them pictures of her and of Johnin my year book .

I've seen John over the years and have always spoke to him with sorrow in my heart knowing the details that I was told those last minutes supposively he and tonya had. But now i'm just stunned. I would have never thought he to be a suspect.

I'll pray for tonya's family for peace, resolution and justice.I hope that now after 20 years they can get justice for such a sensless travesty.

I don't know if John did it, nor can i draw any conclusions till i hear the evidence against him, so for now i'll just pray for his family for the truth.

What a horrible horrible crime that has been committed. Anytime there is a crime, it's always hard, but when its someone one you know its even harder to understand.

-- Posted by cheeziette on Wed, Mar 19, 2008, at 10:57 PM

Wow! I will agree with others that this indictment ONLY indicates that there appears to be enough evidence to proceed with this case. As for a previous comment about the cops needing more training and this man should be let free...I have to disagree with you, to a point. IF John did this and the evidence ends up proving that, will you still feel the same? Yes, I feel sorry for his wife and kids because they are innocent but their pain can not even come close to the pain that the Pickett and Mustard families have felt for the last 20 years! Justice needs to be served in this case as well as a few others in this county from years ago. Maybe someone has had a slip of the tongue over the years...not one of us know until more info is given. I also find it hard to believe after seeing his pain during the tragic time but I am choosing to wait until the trial to make any opinions on his innocence or guilt.

To the Pickett and Mustard families, I know some of you VERY well and have seen your pain and I am sure that this is not easy for you either. I pray that justice will be served in this case so that you may all move on with your lives. Tonya and Ricky will not be forgotten and those who knew them were very lucky and blessed.

May God be with all of you!

-- Posted by 2much2handle on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 4:28 AM

A murder case that has been going on for 20 years, and then someone gets arrested within just a few weeks from when this hits the news. I don't think so. Where's the justice? Where's the evidence? They leave no comment on whether a weapon was recovered, and still arrest someone just because of hersay? I know the story. I have read in the papers, and I have heard the talk around town, and if you honestly think that man could committ this kind of crime, then you are blind. Do you honestly think that an 18 year old boy could committ a horrible crime like this, and hide it for 20 years? I don't think so. No high school boy is that smart.

I know that they let this go on for too long, but I believe that this man's innocent, and I know that the innocence will be found. I'm sure that if they made him sweat it out, that he would have ran. But why run when you're innocent? What would be the point? That just makes you look guilty. He didn't. Just know that the court may have the last judgement for his life here, but God is the One who will the very last judgement on those who just want to close this case, whether they put an innocent man in prison for the rest of his life or not.

His family probably has had enough to go through for the past 20 years. Just think about what's going on, and make it stop. Pray for them and pray for all of this to be cleared and ended.

-- Posted by ml2008 on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 7:37 AM

I've never heard a hint about "the boyfriend". That doesn't mean he couldn't have done it, it doesn't mean he did. I just have to hear alot more.

What I want to know...why did it take 17 years before a grand jury convened in this case in 2004? And then, what changed since then to have just cause for an indictment now?

Maybe I will get those answers, but you talk about something coming out of left-field!

This just smells funny to me!

-- Posted by ClayCountyGuy on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 7:56 AM

I just want to remind everyone that this needs to be solved. Yes 20 years is a long time but, justice will happen one day! I feel for Tonya and Ricky's families and also for John's wife and children. They did not ask for this, they are here and will have to deal with this daily. I would just like to ask the parents of children going to school with the Lovett's children to please be kind and do NOT place judgement on them. Please do NOT talk to them about this it happened before they were even thought of. Please be kind and think how you would feel if this would be your father in John's shoes.

-- Posted by Becki on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 7:57 AM

Cold case files are all over the country, even when the F.B.I. gets involved. To lash out at our local law enforcement is just ridiculous. Do you honestly think we have all the up to date equipment available? This small town? I doubt it. And to place blame to our law enforcement who probally were not on the force at that time. Shame on anyone who will pass judgement.

-- Posted by joemullins on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 8:21 AM

To Joann2708,

I am one of Tonyas many friends and I don't think it is fair that you are blaming the police today for a crime that happened when most of them were still in school themselves. While I am more than a little skeptical about John being the murderer, I will wait and watch the trial carefully. Since neither you nor I have the evidence and testimony in our hands from all the witness', family members and grand jury information lets not speculate as to what happened regarding this investigation. Tonya was a good friend and I was deeply hurt hearing the news of her death. I hope that both families get closure that they desperately need. But the fact that this is a cold case (yes I agree it should have been solved years ago) and might not have been properly investigated (it happens in even the biggest of cities) or not enough evidence at the time to proceed by cops who aren't even working anymore is not a reason to insult the current roster of Police Officers and Deputies in this county who despite poor funding and little public support are doing the best they can to keep you safe. They receive adequate training and if you think they don't, instead of insulting them how about writing your representative and show proof positive that their training is lacking and ask them to extend the academy length. Better yet try spending some time in their shoes, maybe you won't be so quick to judge.

-- Posted by Localguy1972 on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 8:53 AM

Oh and also it's not really the local law enforcement handling the case, the State Police have been providing most of the investigators. I thought I would just put that in there so you know the right people to tell your representatives about.

-- Posted by Localguy1972 on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 8:58 AM

This is crazy. I would have never thought it was the boyfriend. Something does not sit rig with this. My heart goes out to his family.

Now if they would solve Jennifer Stolkrams murder.

-- Posted by petmonster on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 10:07 AM

Picture this... you come home from work and find your only child and spouse shot to death in your home. 20 years pass and finally there is a break in the cold case and someone is arrested and set for trial. People throughout the community rush to the defense of the indited and forget about the two innocent lives tragically taken. Where is the support for the families of the dead? Shame on all of you that rush to the defense of something that you do not even have details about. I pray it is not your daughter and spouse next.

-- Posted by dogcrazy on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 10:46 AM

I was doing the 1990 assessment (in 1988) and remember going into this house mid-morning. What a horrible tragedy, but the ONE sentence that sticks out in my mind? The one I refuse to believe (no matter what)?

This one: "We know there have been a lot of rumors and speculation over many years," Brewer said. "We did feel we should let it be known on the no bill," adding that those rumors "need cleared up" and that evidence did not warrant an arrest of Glen Selsam.


-- Posted by Emmes on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 11:00 AM

respomse to ml2008 Yes i feel a young person can do something like this and hide it they lie to themselves and then start to believe themselves.

AND I AM NOT SAYING JOHN DONE THIS, that is up to the court and evidence now. I am in shock along with a lot of other people, I would not of thought of the boyfriend, and then him making a life here in the same county. But the grand Jury must of heard something to go in this direction.

Its a 20 yr old case Yes it needs to be solved for all families involved to get closure so they can pick up the pieces and move forward and for the victims May they rest in peace. I know cheryl has never givin up on getting this case solved.Hopefully she and the other family members can rest now.If the evidence brings the truth out If not then they are back trying to solve this once again. My prayers and thoughts are with the families.

As for Johns family My prayers and thoughts are with his wife and childern. They came afterwards They are innocent in this They done nothing to deserve this. So please remember this when u go to pass judgement on them. THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH JOHNS PASS.

As for people bashing the police dept. Hey wake up 20 yrs ago the officers we have now were probley still in diapers. Not all cops are bad cops

-- Posted by pepsilady on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 11:28 AM

I agree that this has been a long time coming. I just hope that they have the correct person responsible for these murders. I do believe our law enforcement is doing the best they can with what they have. They were not around when this happened, and some of them were around the same age @ tonya. We need to have faith that this will be solved and the families involved will finally have closure. We must remember, though, that just because they arrested John does not mean he did it. Whatever happened innocent until proven guilty. Now it has become guilty until proven innocent. Some people have their own opinions, but for the most part no one really knows what happened that evening between John & Tonya. There have been rumors what went on that evening, but would he really go back and murder her. I am not sure about that.

-- Posted by ckm on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 2:06 PM

I remember the phone call I got the morning after the murders. I knew Tonya well. She was a wonderful girl. I don't know if John did it or not. I don't understand why they said "boyfriend" like he may not have been just that. He was her boyfriend. I don't know what their relationship was like but it appeared to be a good relationship. Some people do stick around after bad things happen. Haven't you ever heard of those cases where the people who committed the crimes work with law enforcement to try to solve a case? Glenn Selsam didn't leave town either. I just hope that all of this can be put to rest for all involved. It would be nice to see a case in Brazil solved. Maybe after this, they will open up other cases such as Jennifer's death. I think the Brazil police department does a fine job. You have to remember though, some of the cops on the force were in junior high when this happened. It doesn't mean they aren't doing a good job for the town or that they can't help in this case. It is a horrible thing that has happened and I pray for all involved that perhaps new light can be shed on this and minds are put at ease.

People just need to pray that the evidence speaks after 20 years.

-- Posted by notlocalanymore on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 2:35 PM

Thank you to the people who are here to defind the wife and children involved in this.They feel like Cheryl did almost 20 years ago.They don't understnd why their father and husband would be charged with this.Just pray that the truth will come out and everyone will be able to pick up their lives and re-group, starting over will not be easy for any of them and they all need the community behind them. Cheryl and Ricky's families along with John's family. Keep hope Brazil this is only the first of many to come cases to be solved!!

-- Posted by Becki on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 3:13 PM

I'll never forget the morning after when I received the call. I was devastated to say the least. Tonya and I were in dance class together even before kindergarten, elementary, junior and high school, band, guard, and always partners in our crazy Spanish presentations. She was a doll and although criticized by most of our fellow classmates, she never returned one harsh word. I remember seeing her at the game that night, wishing she was in the stands beside me dancing and laughing...afterwards wishing I had said one more time to not quit guard, that the busy schedule would somehow have kept her so busy and in a different place that night. But she was broken down from the constant criticism of the other members and deep down, I couldn't blame her for quitting. She was a natural though and better than most of the other members. I am thankful for the 15 years we were friends, the laughs, even the stitches from our bathroom accident in first grade. She has been missed terribly and I hope to see her again some day!

Tonya loved John very much and I know from being in class with him, he loved her as well. I was shocked beyond recognition of the indictment...never would have thought. However, I know they have worked diligently to get answers, evidence and feel there must be more than we all know to merit his arrest.

To Cheryl...you know how much Tonya's friendship meant to me and want you to know I've thought of her a lot the past 20 years. I hope you're doing well and thank you for giving us such a beautiful girl!

-- Posted by grad90 on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 3:31 PM

Emmes.....So, I take it you were a member of the Grand Jury??? If not, then how can you honestly make a statement indicating that Glen Selsam should have been arrested? Just today my husband told me of a "local" telling him about how Selsam took off for Canada when he knew the Grand Jury was meeting again. This person went on to say that Selsam was still in Canada today. Before you decide to take this rumor and run with it, let me tell you that information is simply another biproduct of the famous rumor mill. Glen Selsam is NOT in Canada! I personally saw him myself today. So, unless you served on the Jury, then perhaps you should quit doing the devil's work and keep your slanderous comments to yourself.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Thu, Mar 20, 2008, at 9:54 PM

A special thank you to those of you that share your memories and best regards to Cheryl. This is a very emotional time for her right now, as you all can only imagine.

It warms her heart to hear people express their memories of Tonya and how sweet she truly was and how she lives on in a piece of each of us. Thank you for helping bring a much deserved smile to a much grieving mother.

-- Posted by dogcrazy on Fri, Mar 21, 2008, at 5:23 AM

To DogCrazy......I would love to hear from Cheryl. Has been a long time. Can you have her email me? My address is meggers3371 at aol dot com

-- Posted by grad90 on Fri, Mar 21, 2008, at 10:33 AM

Joann2708…you of all people have no right to make the statements that you did regarding the cops needing to go back to school before carrying any guns. You should go back to school and learn how to spell before you type such a comment. For you to state the case has been on the back burner for 20 years and then out of the blue make an arrest. You have no idea what they have been doing for 20 years and why it is now coming to an end. Well I do, and believe me you have no right to make such a comment. Obviously you do not read the paper or at least understand what you are reading, again go back to school. Did you not read the article in the paper regarding Roger Lindsey, did you not get it? How hard is it for you to understand why it has taken so long and why a different person has been accused? The article reads: ""This was the second Grand Jury convened in the case. The first took place in 2004, after one of the original investigators, Cap. Roger Lindsey was accused of creating false information that wrongly implicated individuals of the murders and hampered both the original case and the cold case investigation."" To say that you hope the case falls apart and he goes free, how would you like to come home and find your only child and husband murdered? Have you ever imagined that, evidently not! Do you have kids? He has had 20 years of his life to live, 20 years that Tonya and Rick did not get to live. Shame on you Joann2708!

-- Posted by photobug on Sat, Mar 22, 2008, at 10:37 AM

Localguy1972….thanks so much for your comments to Joann2708. For the comment you made, "Since neither you nor I have the evidence and testimony in our hands from all the witness', family members and grand jury information lets not speculate as to what happened regarding this investigation", I commend you for stating that. People are so quick to judge without the facts. Why in the world would anyone think that 3 ISP detectives, 2 special prosecutors, and 6 jurors (who had all the facts) would make the arrest without good reason? For someone who does "not" have all the facts such as Joann2708, to make the statement that they are wrong. Gosh, I guess she has all of the answers, and smarter than they. Joann2708, what an insult to those who has worked diligently and put in many long hours on this investigation, those who has worked many years in this profession. Thank you Localguy1972.

-- Posted by photobug on Sat, Mar 22, 2008, at 10:40 AM

I'm not saying John is guilty, only time will tell. What I am saying is, we all know that the best place to hide is in plain sight.

-- Posted by jerryandterri@localnet.com on Sun, Mar 23, 2008, at 7:42 AM

What about the Mustard Family?...They are grieving just as much as the rest of them. Both Ricks parents have passed away not knowing anything.And the Sister? Well, THEY have been kept in the dark from day one!

-- Posted by skycirrus on Wed, Mar 26, 2008, at 3:48 PM

I love how the people of this community automatically put blame on others. Those of you that have blamed the police should never make a statement of the sort. Most of these guys that serve and protect you now would have been junior high maybe high school so why would you make such a statement because how can a person that young be at fault. When they did not even know they were going to be a police officer at that time. I remember I was a freshman in high school when this incident occurred. I just remember all the seniors and how sad they were at school but I didnt know Tonya. She always seemed real pleasant at school and everyone seemed to like her. I just hope they do solve this case and they will not stop until it happens. I am not making any accusations but there is one person that sticks in my mind but he is dead now. He had some power in this town that I dont think people around here realized just how much power he actually held.

-- Posted by srdd on Sat, Mar 29, 2008, at 8:56 AM

Skycirrus, Nobody said that the Mustard family was not grieving like the rest of the families involved. Yes, it is very sad that Rick's parents went to the grave not knowing anything, but as far as the sisters being left in the dark, I don't think they kept on the case like Cheryl did. Cheryl is the one that wrote the letter that even got the cold case detectives on this! I think that if they would have called and talked to the detectives they would have know the progress of the case...

-- Posted by Sassy72 on Mon, Mar 31, 2008, at 6:02 PM

I was just wondering what type of evidence supported a guilty verdict... I was in drill team with Tonya and John was in my class of 89. At the time I remember we had a dance that evening and he had supposedly dropped her off afterwards only for her to find someone inside waiting on what was supposed to be her mother instead of her. John was always polite, quiet, sweet in high school...certainly not the murdering type.And their relationship seemed to be the normal high school sweethearts. What would his motive be, especially murdering the step father? I hope Clay County hasn't jumped the gun under pressure to get the cold case solved. You would think a child murderer would leave alot of clues behind that would indicate their guilt..and why would he not even be looked at as a suspect all those years ago? Seems like Mayberry lives on to me.

-- Posted by angelamcconnell on Tue, Apr 1, 2008, at 9:14 AM

sassy72, how do you know Rick's sisters and other family members didn't keep on the case like Cheryl? Are you a familly member? I'd like to know where you get your information because you are dead wrong. I am Rick's first cousin and grew up living next to them. His mom was ill with cancer so his sisters would call EVERYDAY to no avail. The police just kept making excuses and the main detective they talked to was guess who? Roger Lindsay. So eventually they did give up until he was arrested because they were getting nowhere. After his arrest, they did try to find out more. Again to no avail. So next time you make a comment like that, get your facts straight first, like from a family member.

-- Posted by corgimom64@yahoo.com on Tue, Apr 1, 2008, at 11:57 AM

Sassy72: For your information> WE DID call them but we got the run around. I did call unsolved mysteries and they called me back and said that someone in Brazil wouldnt let them work on the case.So dont tell me we didnt try. Still , we are very grateful to cheryl that they would listen to her. I have prayed for Cheryl all these years for peace and blessing from what she has been through. I just wished that we hadnt been kept in the dark all these years.

-- Posted by skycirrus on Sat, Apr 5, 2008, at 6:00 PM

I lived down the street from the original suspect,,Glen Selsam committed the crime and he DID leave for a while,,about a year, and i believe has been back since...Mayor Pickett saw to it that he will never be accountable for the crime...the boyfriend didn't do it..how stupid call ya'll be?

-- Posted by spkgmythought on Sat, Jul 31, 2010, at 2:08 PM

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