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Indiana family seeks resolution in 30-year-old homicide

November 26, 2018

The father of a teenage girl who was fatally shot in a 1988 double-homicide in Brazil, Indiana, said he decided to give his first interviews about the killing in the hopes the three-decade-old case will finally be solved.

Norval Pickett believes Brazil police botched the double-murder investigation, The Tribune Star reported.

Tonya Pickett, 16, was slain along with her stepfather, Ricky Mustard, 32, in their Brazil home on Nov. 18, 1988. Both were shot in the head at close range, according to police

“I think of it every November,” Norval Pickett said. “It never leaves you. And then again in December — her birthday was Dec. 23.”

John Lovett, who was Tonya Pickett’s boyfriend, was indicted by a grand jury and charged with the homicides in 2008 after the Indiana State Police reinvestigated the case. The charges were dismissed in 2012 after the state Court of Appeals ruled that letters between Tonya Pickett and Lovett were hearsay and couldn’t be used as evidence.

Norval Pickett said he believes the appeals court “dropped the ball” by not allowing the letters.

“In those letters, Tonya wrote about her fears of Lovett,” he said. “To us, her family, they should have let a jury decide about the letters.”

Brazil Mayor Bryan Wyndham said no one working for the city’s police department was part of the original investigation. The original investigators have retired.

“It was a horrible tragedy,” Wyndham said of the shooting deaths. “There’s no doubt in my mind the family would like to see some resolution to the case.”

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