IRONY STRIKES GREEN PARROT AS TV SHOW TARGETS ITS COOK
By Nicole Bonham and Scott Iwasaki, Staff Writers
Green Parrot Cafe cook Kenneth Norman Lovci was in the Salt Lake County Jail Saturday night after Green Parrot patrons and employees gathered at the cafe Friday to watch a television program profiling a suspect in a murder of the cafe's former cook. Coincidentally, the program identified Lovci in a separate segment about a Texas sex offense.
As Salt Lake Police Lt. Scott Folsom said about the incident, "The irony goes real deep here."Patrons met Friday at the cafe to watch a segment of "America's Most Wanted" that re-enacted the May 1992 murder of the cafe's former cook, actor Merritt Riordan, 29, and profiled Aaron Galli, a suspect in the case.
A man the group recognized as Lovci was featured in another segment of Friday's program. Lovci, 47, remains in the jail, awaiting news of extradition proceedings after being arrested at the cafe Friday night.
Galli is wanted in connection with a robbery attempt at the cafe that ended in the fatal shooting of Riordan. Galli jumped bail prior to a scheduled court hearing, and he was profiled in an early segment of the program.
Although information on Galli was the basis for the segment the group had gathered to watch, Salt Lake police got calls regarding Lovci. Folsom said several cafe patrons and employees recognized Lovci as the fugitive shown on the television.
Cafe senior manager Brad Summerhays said employees almost missed seeing Lovci.
"After we watched the segment on the Galli boys, we turned a couple of the sets to the U. game and left the other on `America's Most Wanted,' " Summerhays said. "When Lovci's segment came on, we joked around and said, `That looks like our cook in back.' After a few minutes, we said, `Wait a minute, that is him."'
"They were basically turning off the TV, getting back to selling beer and flipping hamburgers, and they said, `That guy is our cook,' " Folsom said.
Summerhays told a bartender to call the police and then ran downstairs to the cafe's office.
"Our other manager, Clark Riel, was on the phone," Summerhays said. "I told him to get off the line and call the police, too."
When Summerhays got back upstairs, Lovci, who did not see the segment, had already changed clothes and was about to leave.
"I tried to stall him as long as I could," he said. "I told him I needed some paperwork done before he left. Clark even offered to buy him a beer. He had no idea what was happening."
Police arrived at about 8:15 p.m. and arrested Lovci without incident.
Lovci, a former reserve police officer in Rollingwood and Rock-dale, Texas, faces warrants on charges of molesting a boy, 10, from Rollingwood. He was also listed as a missing person in Texas. If Lovci fights extradition, a hearing will likely be scheduled within the next couple days.
"It was really strange how this all happened," Summerhays said. "For us to hire this guy out of the blue after the Galli incident is a one-in-a-million shot. Now, if someone can nab the Galli brothers."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.