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Joshua Livingston, accused in the homicide death of Melissa Ostrom, dead in 'apparent suicide'

Joshua Livingston in court
Clay Jackson
The Pantagraph (Pool) file
Joshua Livingston was found "unresponsive" during a security check at the jail around 9:33 p.m. Thursday, authorities said.

A man with a lengthy history of violent acts and who was charged with the April strangulation death of a Bloomington woman, has died of "an apparent suicide" at the McLean County jail, authorities said Friday.

Joshua Livingston, 41, was found "unresponsive" during a security check at the jail around 9:33 p.m. Thursday.

A close family friend of Melissa Ostrom says those who were close to the 39-year-old woman want her to be remembered for her free spirit, willingness to help others and love of art.
Tami Bicknell
Melissa Ostrom

According to a joint news release from McLean County Sheriff Matt Lane and McLean County Coroner Kathy Yoder, correctional officers "initiated rescue efforts" and were joined by members of the Bloomington Fire Department who also "provided emergency medical services."

"Despite these efforts, Livingston was pronounced deceased at 10:22 p.m. by the McLean County Coroner's Office," authorities wrote in their release.

An autopsy is pending. State Police are investigating and the incident was reported to the Illinois Department of Corrections, according to the release.

The last publicly reported suicide at the McLean County jail appears to have been in 2009, when a 26-year-old man from Hudson, jailed on preliminary charges of domestic violence, used a bag for personal care items to suffocate himself.

Prior to that, the last jail suicide in McLean County was in 1999, when a 45-year-old Clinton man hanged himself.

'No joy in any of this'

Livingston was awaiting trail on multiple felony charges, including murder. He was accused of strangling 39-year-old Melissa Ostrom to death in April, after he was released on bail following charges of domestic violence filed against him in March, also related to Ostrom.

Ostrom was reported missing by her family members on April 17; her body was found a few days later on April 20.

Livingston's most recent appearance in court was Tuesday, when Assistant State’s Attorney Aaron Fredrick filed a motion that indicated prosecutors planned to ask to use statements made by Ostrom to police and others in which she recounted alleged threats of physical harm and death made by Livingston.

Livingston was set to appear in court on Dec. 22 in the homicide case; a trial for a pending burglary case had been set for Jan. 18.

Tami Bicknell, an aunt of Ostrom who was close with her, said the news of Livingston's death — announced almost six months from the day Ostrom's body was found — made her feel "horribly sad."

"I don't share the common sentiments of a lot of people, but I take no joy in any of this — including his death," Bicknell said when reached by WGLT. "... In the end, the result is the same: Our dear Missie is gone and there is so much heartache left behind."

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Lyndsay Jones is a reporter at WGLT. She joined the station in 2021. You can reach her at lljone3@ilstu.edu.
Edith began her career as a reporter with The DeWitt County Observer, a weekly newspaper in Clinton. From 2007 to June 2019, Edith covered crime and legal issues for The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. She previously worked as a correspondent for The Pantagraph covering courts and local government issues in central Illinois.
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