Illinois 'Golden Boy' Curtis Lovelace Plans to Use His Children to Prove He Didn t Suffocate His Wife to Death, Attorney Says

Prosecution challenges timeline of former football star, alleging he suffocated mom of four hours before she turned up dead

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Photo: Courtesy Marty Didriksen

Did Quincy, Illinois, golden boy Curtis Lovelace suffocate his wife in bed with a pillow after midnight on Valentine’s Day, 2006?

Or is that impossible, as the defense contends, because the couple’s school-aged kids initially told police they saw their mother, Cory, alive that morning? It was only after Curtis – a former college football player, school board president and prosecutor – took the couple’s oldest children to school that he returned home and found Cory dead, according to the defense.

“The truth rests with the children,” said defense attorney Jeff Page, as testimony in Curtis’s murder trial began Wednesday in the same courthouse where Curtis once worked as an assistant state’s attorney, reports the Herald-Whig newspaper.

Curtis has pleaded not guilty. But the timeline is key in the alleged crime that has riveted Quincy since a police review of the unsolved case led to the arrest of Curtis, now 47, eight years after 38-year-old Cory’s death. Cory was a stay-at-home mom who had been a gregarious high school cheerleader, athlete and honor student with deep roots in the couple’s Mississippi River hometown.

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Curtis – who rose from a standout football player at Quincy High to become captain of the University of Illinois team, a lawyer, an elected school board member, a sports radio broadcaster and an adjunct teacher at Quincy University while working part-time for the state’s attorney’s office – told police Cory was suffering flu-like symptoms that morning when he helped her to bed around 8:15 a.m. He returned from taking the oldest of the couple’s four children to school to find her dead around 9 a.m.. He said he first called his boss instead of 911, and his boss alerted authorities.

But despite outward appearances, prosecutor Ed Parkinson told jurors that it was not a happy home, reports the Herald-Whig: “There was turmoil between the defendant and Cory Lovelace,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson showed several photos of Cory’s body with her arms raised and frozen by rigor mortis by the time police arrived, which suggest she died much earlier than in her husband’s account of that morning. Although the initial autopsy left open the cause of death as “undetermined,” investigators later spoke to medical examiners who said they saw signs of homicide.

“[Cory] is going to tell you through her own body that she was murdered,” Parkinson told jurors, according to WGEM.

The prosecution also relied on Cory’s mom, Marty Didriksen, who took the stand and acknowledged problems had surfaced in the couple’s once-storybook marriage.

She testified her former son-in-law was abrupt and emotionless in sharing the news of Cory’s death. The two families lived within a short distance of each other, and Curtis walked over with the couple’s then-4-year-old son after finding Cory.

“He knocked on the door and handed me [the boy],” Didriksen testified. “He said, ‘Cory’s dead.’ And then he left. He just walked across the porch and walked off.”

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