BRAZIL, Ind. (WTHI) – A Brazil, Indiana father continues his search for justice after the death of his daughter.
Tonya Pickett and her stepfather, Ricky Mustard, were murdered inside their Brazil home in 1988. Now, Pickett's father is speaking out for the first time in three decades.
"I know that it’s been thirty years. Thirty years come Sunday. Thirty years. Someone out there has to know something."
Norval Pickett says the person responsible for his daughter's death is still out there.
"Why now after thirty years? I guess I don't know. I've been thinking about it for years, every year let it go."
It was November 18, 1988. Tonya Pickett had just returned from a school dance when police say she was shot in the head inside her home. Her stepfather Ricky Mustard met the same fate in another room.
Norval Pickett says Brazil police botched the investigation from the start.
"This guy, he's a dirty cop, leads the investigation this way and it should have gone this way and he tried to put the heat on some known drug dealers and stuff because he was dirty himself."
The case went cold until new life was breathed into the hunt for answers in 2003. Cold case investigators with Indiana State Police reopened the case. Five years after that an arrest was made.
Norval Pickett says, "If it had been investigated properly they should have had cuffs on that guy that night."
That guy is John Lovett, the boyfriend of Tonya Pickett.
Lovett was the last person seen with her and witnesses said the two had been arguing the night Pickett was murdered.
Norval Pickett says the court threw out letters his daughter had written about her accused killer. The court found there was insufficient evidence against Lovett so the charges were dropped.
"No matter what happens, I'll go to my deathbed thinking that's the guy."
Lovett could be charged again if different evidence against him is discovered.
If you have information about this case that has not already been shared you can contact Brazil police at 812-446-2211 or Indiana State Police at 765-653-4114.