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'Stalker boyfriend' charged with murder after killing woman, setting her car on fire, police say
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'Stalker boyfriend' charged with murder after killing woman, setting her car on fire, police say

A man faces murder and other charges for the 2018 homicide of 39-year-old Davita Ward, whose body was found "burned beyond recognition" in her car.

Hugh Scott Jr., a 36-year-old Gary resident, was arrested on a number of charges including murder, aggravated battery, battery resulting in serious bodily injury and arson.

Police have been investigating the case since Ward's body was found in a burned-out car on the 2400 block of Noble Street in Gary on June 17, 2018.

It's believed she was killed the day before.

"For many months, there were few leads in this case," Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. said. "This year, detectives with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Lake County Metro Homicide Unit took a fresh look at the investigation and identified new potential leads, which led to Scott’s arrest."

Ward died of a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the Lake County Coroner's Office.

Investigators discovered Scott had been in a relationship with her and had been physically abusive, in one case knocking a tooth out, according to a probable cause affidavit. She had been at a party the day before her body was found and told a friend there the texts she kept getting were from a "stalker boyfriend," according to the affidavit.

The friend later told police Ward appeared scared and distracted after one text and then rushed away from the party, the affidavit stated.

Police concluded Scott poured gasoline inside and outside her car to try to cover up evidence of the crime, according to a probable cause affidavit. Scott suffered burns to his legs so severe he had to be taken from Community Hospital to Loyola Medical Center's Burn Unit in Chicago.

He told detectives he burnt his legs with lighter fluid while trying to light fireworks at a cookout but then asked to see an attorney after he was confronted with inconsistencies in his story, according to the affidavit.

"This was a truly horrific and senseless crime. I applaud the diligence of the officers who meticulously followed recent tips which were crucial in helping to bring this suspect to justice," Martinez said. "I would also like to extend my deepest condolences to Ms. Ward’s family and loved ones. We thank them for their perseverance. The devotion they have exhibited throughout this investigation is admirable."

Scott is being held at the Lake County Jail.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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