Lucas pleads guilty to robbery, murder, agrees to testify against co-defendant
Holly Lucas, of Mansfield, pleaded guilty to amended charges of first-degree robbery and second-degree murder before 30th Circuit Judge Michael O. Hendrickson during a plea hearing Halloween day in Christian County. The charge is in connection with the April 2018 murder of 73-year-old Lawrence C. Brostedt in Ozark County.
Lucas was sentenced to 10 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on each count. The counts are to run concurrently, meaning Lucas will serve the two sentences simultaneously. Because the charges are considered violent felonies, Lucas is required to serve at least 85 percent, or 8 1/2 years before she is eligible for parole.
She was formerly charged with first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and one count of robbery. The first-degree murder charge could have carried a sentence of life imprisonment or death.
The guilty plea was made as part of a plea agreement with the state in which Lucas agreed to give her truthful testimony against her co-defendant in the case, Tylor Rynard, who is currently in Phelps County Jail. Rynard is scheduled to face a Phelps County jury July 6-8, 2020. A pre-trial conference will be held in Phelps County on April 3.
The state was represented by Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant. Lucas was represented by Missouri Public Defender John Kizer.
Garrabrant said Lucas has been fully cooperative with law enforcement officers since she was arrested.
Circuit Judge Craig Carter originally presided over Lucas’ case in Ozark County Circuit Court. A motion for a change of judge was filed and sustained in July 2018, and Hendrickson was assigned to the case. A motion for a change of venue was filed and granted in October 2018, and the case was transferred to Christian County.
A third co-defendant, Michael A. Smith, has been charged locally with conspiracy to robbery in connection with the case. He is currently being held in federal prison on unrelated charges. It is expected that he will face the Ozark County charges after he is sentenced in the federal case.
‘Fearing someone may be in distress’
According to court documents, a call from the Mountain Grove Police Department (MGPD) on April 30, 2018, prompted Ozark County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Curtis Dobbs to make a well-being check at 290 Up Hill Lane, off JJ Highway northeast of Thornfield, where he found the body of 73-year-old Lawrence C. Brostedt.
MGPD called Dobbs after a MGPD officer arrested a man for an unrelated incident and found two of Brostedt’s checks on the suspect. MGPD was unsuccessful in trying to reach Brostedt by phone and called the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office to ask if officers here could visit his house.
When Dobbs arrived on scene, he immediately noticed that the home appeared to have been burglarized. According to the probable cause statement in the case, furniture was turned over and cabinets appeared to have been gone through.
“Fearing someone may be in distress and in need of assistance, I gained entry through an exterior door,” Dobbs wrote in the report. When inside, he noticed that two TVs appeared to be missing from the living room and bedroom, with dust rings around where the bases would normally have sat.
Back outside, Dobbs walked around a detached garage in an attempt to make entry, but the doors were locked, the statement says. He then called for backup, and with the aid of other deputies, he gained entry to the garage through a side door, “still fearing there may be a person in distress.”
Human remains wrapped in a tarp
Officers immediately noticed a pungent odor consistent with that of decaying human remains, the statement says. When officers lifted a blue tarp in the middle of the garage floor, they found blood stains on the floor and what appeared to be a body wrapped up in a second tarp bound with ropes and straps. Officers removed a section of the tarp and found the body of a man that matched the description and photograph the officers had of Brostedt.
Brostedt’s body had what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the upper right front of the head, the statement says. Officers processed the garage for additional evidence and designated the area as an active crime scene. The residence was also processed for evidence, the statement says. During the course of the investigation, officers determined that a white Ford F-150, a Kubota UTV and several firearms belonging to Brostedt were missing from the residence.
Checks lead to clues about possible suspects
Dobbs contacted Great Southern Bank, which held Brostedt’s checking account with the missing checks. A bank employee told the officer the checks appeared to have been written and signed from Brostedt to other individuals; however, upon closer observation, it was noticed that Brostedt’s signature on previous checks did not match the signature on the checks written and cashed between April 23 and April 28, 2018.
The bank provided photographs of the individuals and vehicles involved with the cashed checks during that timeframe. One of the vehicles photographed at the bank appeared to be a white Ford F-150 matching the description of the truck owned by Brostedt. In the bank’s photographs, Smith was seen exiting the passenger’s side of the truck, and Rynard was seen exiting the driver’s side. Great Southern Bank reportedly told Dobbs that Rynard had forged and cashed three of Brostedt’s checks, totaling $11,150.
Smith’s side of the story
After finding Brostedt’s body and learning of Smith and Rynard’s appearance at the bank with Brostedt’s forged checks, the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office got an address for Smith in Mansfield, and Dobbs and Reed went there in search of Smith. He reportedly granted the officers permission to search his residence, and they found a flat-screen TV in plain view matching the dimensions of the TV stand that was removed from Brostedt’s residence. Smith was read his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with the officers, the statement says.
Smith reportedly told Dobbs that he and Rynard had devised a plan to rob Brostedt, whom the two men had worked for in the past. Smith said they believed Brostedt had a lot of cash at his residence, along with several firearms. Smith said on April 19, 2018, the pair drove to Brostedt’s home to stake out the place and create a plan, according to the probable cause statement. They returned the next night (April 20, 2018), Smith said, walking through a field to gain access to the property.
Smith reportedly told the officers he had brought a knife, and Rynard brought a 40-caliber pink semi-automatic pistol. Smith said the two men walked all the way up to the garage, watching for Brostedt, but Smith said he lost his nerve and told Rynard he couldn’t go through with it. So the two left, and Rynard dropped Smith off at a gas station in Mansfield, the statement says.
Smith said a couple of days later, he met Rynard, who was driving a white Ford F-150 pickup with an orange side-by-side UTV in the bed. Smith said a Winchester 30-30 rifle, a single-barrel shotgun and a revolver with a long barrel were in the backseat of the truck.
Smith said Rynard told him he went back to Brostedt’s residence, lured Brostedt into the garage and shot him in the back of the head, wrapping his body in a tarp and leaving it in the garage, the statement says.
Lucas’ side of the story
Officers were also able to identify Lucas from bank photographs after she also reportedly cashed some of Brostedt’s checks. While Dobbs and Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed questioned Smith, Ozark County Chief Deputy Winston Collins and Sgt. Vesa Phelan found and questioned Lucas, who was at a Mansfield residence.
Lucas was placed under arrest and transported to the Mansfield Police Department, where she was interviewed by investigators. At the end of the interview, Lucas reportedly gave officers permission to search her residence at 109 S. Lincoln Ave. in Mansfield. The report says Collins accompanied Lucas to the home, where she showed the officer a TV matching the dimensions of the one removed from the Brostedt home. Lucas also gave the officer $3,032 in cash that she said was left over from the forged Brostedt checks.
After turning over the TV and the remaining cash, Lucas directed Collins to another residence, at 1924 Burlington Road in Mansfield, where officers found a white Ford F-150 matching the truck that was stolen from Brostedt’s home. The vehicle was recovered and transported to the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office.
While en route to the Ozark County Jail, Lucas reportedly asked for writing paper and provided three voluntary statements. In the statements, Lucas reportedly wrote that she was at the Brostedt property the morning of April 21, 2018, when Rynard shot and killed the 73-year-old man. Lucas said Rynard had used her pistol to shoot the man. She also wrote that after Brostedt was killed, she cleaned up the murder area with buckets of water and ammonia while Rynard wrapped Brostedt’s body in the tarps.