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2 plead guilty in concealment of Jenkins death
Relatives of victim sentenced to 10 years in prison
W lovette susan
Susan Eleanor Coleman Lovett

Two Jenkins County residents pled guilty Tuesday to concealing the death of a relative, whose remains were found burned and buried in a shallow grave behind her home near Williams Road and Old Savannah Highway in April, said Jenkins County Sheriff Robert Oglesby.

Susan Eleanor Coleman Lovett and Christopher Eugene Lovette (surnames spelled differently) each pled guilty before Jenkins County Superior Court Judge Gates Peed to charges of concealing the death of another and false statements and writings/concealing facts, Oglesby said.

The burned remains of Ashley Lovett, 27, were found in a shallow grave in April after investigators began probing into her disappearance. Her stepmother, Susan Lovett, 40, and half-brother Lovette, 22, both of J.M. Spearman Road in Adrian, were charged in the incident.

Each was charged with two counts of concealing the death of another — one for not reporting the death but burning and burying the body, which "hindered the discovery of whether or not said person was unlawfully killed by disposing of the body ... by means of fire after her death," according to an indictment.

Each defendant also faced four counts of making false statements after telling sheriff's investigator Wesley Aaron and Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office investigators Erick Riner and Tom Woodrum that Ashley Lovett had been "taken by adult protective services," according to the indictment.

The two also were charged with financial transaction card fraud for allegedly using the victim's debit card several times to withdraw cash and make purchases.

In a plea deal Tuesday, each was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the first charge of concealing a death and 10 years probation on the second charge of concealing a death, Oglesby said.

Each defendant also received a sentence of five years probation, to run consecutively, for charges of false statements and writings/concealment of facts, he said.

All other charges were dismissed per the plea agreement, Oglesby said.

Ashley Lovett’s death

Susan Lovett and Christopher Lovette were living in a wood-frame house in Jenkins County at the corner of Williams Road and Old Savannah Highway, where Ashley Lovett's remains were found, but the two had moved several times since the body was buried, Oglesby said in previous interviews.

Family members said they began to suspect foul play in February, as the victim had not been seen since the previous October, he said.

After investigating and questioning suspects and witnesses, sheriff's and district attorney's office investigators discovered a body that had been burned extensively and then buried in a shallow grave behind the house. Oglesby said very few remains were left after the burning and consisted of bone and teeth fragments.

DNA taken from a baby born to Ashley Lovett is being compared to that of the remains, but as of Tuesday, there had been no results received from the lab, Oglesby said.

The child, now between 2 and 3 years old, had been removed from her mother's custody when the baby was just weeks old and placed with family members, he said.

The remains, identified as human by a Georgia Southern University anthropologist, were sent to a lab in Georgia, then to another lab in Tennessee, Oglesby said.

The suspects told investigators that they found the victim dead in October 2014 and "panicked," so they burned her body and a mattress. They did not report her death.

Ashley Lovett was "challenged" and received a Social Security check, which was deposited into a bank account, and her stepmother and half-brother continued to use the victim's money for several months following her death, Oglesby said.

Both Susan Lovett and Christopher Lovette pled not guilty during arraignments earlier this year, according to information from the Jenkins County Clerk of Courts office.

Ashley Lovett's cause of death is yet unknown, and neither suspect was ever charged with murder. It is unclear whether investigators will continue the investigation, Oglesby said Tuesday.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

 

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