Former hometown football hero and assistant state's attorney charged with wife Cory's murder eight years after she died

By Jeff Truesdell
Updated January 06, 2016 03:55 PM
Advertisement
Credit: Courtesy Marty Didriksen

The death of Cory Lovelace on Valentine’s Day 2006 came as a tragic shock.

The mother of four had been briefly ill and was showing flu-like symptoms that morning, according to statements attributed to her husband Curtis at a coroner’s inquest. He said he walked her to bed around 8:15 and then drove their three oldest children to school. When he returned about 45 minutes later, he said, Cory was dead.

Now, almost 10 years later, criminal charges allege it was Curtis who killed Cory by suffocation. He has pleaded not guilty and goes on trial Jan. 25.

The abrupt twist – Curtis was charged and arrested in August 2014, eight years after Cory’s death – dropped jaws in the couple’s hometown of Quincy, Illinois, where Curtis, now 47, was a former assistant state’s attorney, a onetime hometown football hero and captain of his college team, a past president of the local school board, a sports radio broadcaster and a teacher at Quincy University.

For more about the allegations that hometown golden boy Curtis Lovelace murdered his wife, pick up a copy of this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday

Cory, 38, also was beloved and had deep roots in the community: She was a gregarious former cheerleader, athlete and honor student raising the couple’s four kids as a stay-at-home mom. “At the time she died, nobody was pointing fingers or making accusations,” says Quincy police chief Rob Copley.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

But coroner Dr. Jessica Bowman says she raised concerns and left open the cause of death as “undetermined.” In 2013 a new detective, Adam Gibson, reviewed the case file and its photographs of the scene. The evidence was shared anew with three other medical examiners who told investigators they saw signs of homicide.

On the fact that authorities initially didn’t press charges, Chief Copley now says, “We dropped the ball.”

The allegation has left family and close friends of the couple wrestling with the implications – and unsure what to believe.

Responding to Curtis’ arrest, Jani Brooks, a longtime friend of Cory’s family, echoes the view of many who now are waiting and watching, saying, “I haven’t spent eight years thinking Curtis did something to Cory.”