- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Murder charges against a former Illinois prosecutor and Big Ten football standout in his wife’s death eight years ago are rooted in pathologists’ new findings that her body’s condition at the scene showed she died of foul play and not flu-like symptoms, authorities told The Associated Press.

Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley said the case took a dramatic turn late last year when a recently promoted detective dusted off the file and sought opinions from two outside pathologists, each of whom concluded that 38-year-old Cory Lovelace died of foul play on Valentine’s Day 2006.

Curtis Lovelace, 45, was indicted last month on a first-degree murder charge in Adams County Circuit Court, where he prosecuted hundreds of cases as an assistant state’s attorney. He appeared in court Friday, shackled and in striped jail clothes, for a scheduled arraignment and told a judge he needed more time to find funds to hire an attorney. The arraignment was pushed back to Oct. 8.

The former Quincy school board member who since Cory Lovelace’s death has married twice more remained jailed in lieu of $5 million bond.

Cory Lovelace’s death in the family’s home in western Illinois’ Quincy along the Mississippi River had remained an open case, given that an autopsy and coroner’s jury at the time failed to pinpoint what killed of the mother of four. Ed Parkinson, the case’s special prosecutor, said Curtis Lovelace had told authorities after his wife’s death that “she had been ill for a few days.”

Copley said the detective perused Cory Lovelace’s file after he “heard other people talking about concerns about the case,” adding that the man “identified some inconsistencies between what was found at the scene and what was being said.” Copley wouldn’t elaborate.

“He had his concerns and asked if he could take a fresh look. I said, ‘Sure,’” Copley said.

Because Cory Lovelace had been cremated, investigators had no remains to exhume and re-examine. But the two pathologists the fledgling detective asked to separately weigh in ruled her death a homicide by suffocation after reviewing the autopsy report and, more specifically, keying on photographs of her body at the scene, Parkinson told the AP on Friday.

“The condition of the body should have told (initial investigators) that something was amiss,” Parkinson added without elaborating, saying additional details would come out in court.

Propelled by the pathologists’ conclusions, Copley said, investigators spent months quietly re-interviewing “almost everyone involved in the case with the exception of Mr. Lovelace,” secured an indictment against him and arrested him the same day, as he emerged from his law office to go to lunch.

While playing for the Illini, between 1986 and 1990, Lovelace was chosen team captain and was an all-Big Ten first team selection at center.

A member of the Illinois bar for 20 years, Lovelace is a captain in the Illinois National Guard Judge Advocate Corps.

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