Erin Justice Murder: Where is Laurence Lovejoy Now?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? The Monsters They Married’ depicts how 16-year-old Erin Justice was brutally murdered inside her mother’s apartment in Naperville, Illinois, in March 2004. The episode features Erin’s mother, Valerie Justice, and other family members as they reminisce about Erin and how the heinous crime occurred.

How Did Erin Justice Die?

Erin Jenea Justice was born to Valerie and Frederick Justice in Joliet in Will County, Illinois, on March 1, 1988. She was a 16-year-old Waubonsie High School sophomore and her high school track team member in March 2004. She lived with her mother, Valerie, and Valerie’s husband of four months, Laurence Lovejoy, in a Naperville, Illinois, apartment. Reports state Erin and Laurence had a strained relationship since the teen disapproved of his and her mother’s recent marriage.

On the morning of March 27, 2004, Valerie called Erin several times but could not reach her. Sometime after 10:00 am, Valerie left work and went to the townhouse to check on her daughter. When she arrived home, a concerned Valerie found the front door ajar. According to court documents, she saw stains on the carpet and the wall leading up the staircase, which she later realized were bloodstains. She went upstairs to look for her daughter and found her body in the bathroom.

Police documents state Valerie found Erin’s unclothed body in the bathtub filled with bloody water. A pathologist testified at trial that Erin was beaten, poisoned, cut, and drowned. The medical examiner found water in her lungs, indicating that drowning was the immediate cause of death. But she had also lost tremendous amounts of blood and suffered from a lethal overdose in her system. The autopsy report determined her intestines were stained a blue-green color consistent with liquid cold medicine.

Who Killed Erin Justice?

The detectives learned about Erin and Laurence’s complicated relationship and the rape allegation she had brought against him a couple of weeks ago. According to court documents, Laurence and Erin were in the apartment together, with Valerie working at her second job at a nearby gas station, on March 4, 2004. Laurence allegedly offered Erin a massage, commenting on how she must be sore after track practice. Erin accepted his offer but protested when he made sexual advances during the massage.

Erin’s friend and classmate, Ladarious Freeman, later testified in court about how Erin had rushed to the nearby apartment complex with her dog on the March 4 evening. She repeatedly rang her bell and shouted about how her stepfather had “just raped her” until Ladarious let her in. She sat on the kitchen floor, legs crossed, crying and petting her dog until the police arrived. She accused Laurence of forcing her to have intercourse and claimed he stopped when he heard a noise that he believed was the garage door opening.

The authorities arrived and transported Erin and her mother to a hospital, where medical personnel prepared a rape kit. After she gave the police her statement, the officers escorted her and Valerie to their apartment to gather items and then to a Naperville hotel. Court records state Laurence was taken into custody that night, and he initially refused to provide a DNA sample voluntarily until law enforcement officials obtained a warrant. On March 5, 2004, Laurence and Valerie purchased a townhouse in Aurora.

They had planned the purchase before Erin brought the allegations against Laurence. He was not permitted to move into the townhouse or given a key. He was only allowed inside the house when Erin was at school. Valerie would leave him a key and collect it at the end of the day. However, Erdid did not know about this arrangement. According to reports, Valerie frequently met and spoke with Laurence and confronted him about Erin’s allegations. He admitted that he ran a bath for Erin and massaged her legs but denied touching her improperly.

He also alleged Erin was angry at him because they argued over her cellular telephone. Laurence asserted that the DNA testing would vindicate him and repeatedly pressurized Valerie to go to the authorities and tell them he was innocent. However, Valerie declined and apprised him that the DNA evidence would speak for itself. On March 27, 2004, Erin was scheduled to leave town to spend spring break with her biological father.

Valerie told Laurence that Frederick would pick up Erin between 9:00 and 10:00 am. She asked him to reschedule a 10:30 am veterinary appointment for the family dog so that he would not encounter Erin when he went to retrieve the dog from their townhouse. According to court records, he rescheduled the appointment to 12:30 pm. Valerie went to work early on March 27 and texted Laurence at 7:48 am to cancel the veterinary appointment because Erin was not going to her father’s house until later that afternoon.

Court testimonies state Valerie and Laurence spoke over call, and she again conveyed the change of plans. DNA testing revealed traces of amylase — a substance found in saliva — on swabs of Erin’s rape kit. The reports stated DNA extracted from the amylase matched Laurence’s DNA profile. The police also noticed no sign of a break-in, indicating the killer had a key. Combined with the DNA results and the fact Laurence also had access to the apartment, the investigators arrested him and charged him with first-degree murder.

Laurence Lovejoy is Serving His Sentence Today

Laurence was initially convicted and sentenced to death on February 15, 2007. However, his defense contented they were unable to refute last-minute forensic evidence that placed Laurence at the crime scene. The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the conviction and the sentence. Prosecutors sought the death penalty again at a January 2011 retrial, and the jury convicted him of first-degree murder in February. However, the jury declined to declare him eligible for a death sentence. He was sentenced to life without parole and is incarcerated at the Western Illinois Correctional Center.

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