Tyler Loveless, the son of St. Clair attorney and businessman John Loveless, is in Mexico trying to help his father clear his name.
D. Keith Wilson, who is John Loveless’ Franklin Financial Corp. business partner, told The Missourian that Tyler Loveless traveled to Mexico on Friday.
The elder Loveless, 59, is being held in a Mexican jail while an investigation is being conducted into the death of his girlfriend, Tamra Turpin, 36, of Union.
According to Mexican authorities, Turpin was found dead last Wednesday morning, March 2, in a condominium the couple had rented in the Caribbean resort city of Playa del Carmen. A forensic examination concluded she died of asphyxia by strangulation, the Associated Press reported.
Mexican federal police said in a statement that Loveless was detained at the Cancun airport before he was to board a flight to Atlanta.
According to the prosecutor’s office in Quintana Roo state, where both Playa del Carmen and Cancun are located, Loveless faces a criminal homicide investigation in connection with Turpin’s death.
“Tyler went there to get him (John) an attorney,” Wilson told The Missourian. “He also is hiring an independent pathologist to come in and do a second autopsy.”
Loveless was in custody in Playa del Carmen, the AP reported. Appearing before a judge on Friday, he declined to make an official declaration in the case, and at the time it was not clear whether he had a local attorney.
Wilson said he spoke with Tyler Loveless on Monday.
“He asked us to send money,” he said.
Wilson also said on Monday that Tyler has had the opportunity to visit his father three times since his arrival late last week.
“He said John was doing pretty good under the circumstances,” Wilson said. “He (John) is in a bad place to be with the legal system they have.”
Wilson said he and Loveless have been business partners for about 25 years.
“I absolutely believe he’s innocent,” Wilson said. “I’ve never known him to be a violent man.”
He also said he personally has not talked to Loveless since before he left with Turpin for Mexico.
The AP reported that Turpin’s older sister, Jodi Mills, said Loveless had told her via text messages that Turpin had overdosed on prescription medicines during a suicide attempt after an argument between the two had taken place the night before her death.
Mills said Loveless later told her he canceled an initial call for an ambulance because Turpin was “resting comfortably.” Mills said Loveless then told her by mid-afternoon that Turpin had died.
Reports also stated that Loveless and Turpin had known each other for about a year and had gone on previous vacations together.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City confirmed the death in Playa del Carmen of an American citizen it identified as Turpin. It offered condolences and said it was providing consular assistance in the case.
The embassy said it was also aware of reports that a U.S. citizen had been detained, but referred further questions to Mexican authorities.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said Monday it had no new information on the case, the AP stated.
Katherine Jennemann, site director at the Agape House in St. Clair, said Turpin had been a volunteer at the Agape thrift store in Union for several years.
“She was an amazing person who always stepped up and helped us out whenever we needed her,” she said. “She had a smile and a brightness that would light up a room.
“We, along with our faithful customers, will miss her greatly.”
Information on LinkedIn, an online business network, stated that Loveless, who also operates a law office in St. Clair, has been an attorney since 1982. It said he received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a doctor of law degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
According to minutes from St. Clair Board of Aldermen meetings, Loveless served as city attorney from June 1991 through December 1995.
The AP reported on Monday that he has had no disciplinary action against him as an attorney, according to the state’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates ethics complaints against lawyers.