Mya Lyons was stabbed to death by her father Richard Lyons and was never sexually assaulted, contrary to statements made by his attorney, police said Tuesday at the formal announcement of charges against the Lyons.
Mya Lyons was stabbed to death by her father Richard Lyons and was never sexually assaulted, contrary to statements made by his attorney, police said Tuesday at the formal announcement of charges against Lyons.
Lyons, 42, was charged with first-degree murder in the July 14, 2008 death of his 9-year-old daughter, and with aggravated criminal sexual abuse in an unrelated case, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said at a news conference at police headquarters.
The sex abuse charge stems from an alleged incident last June involving a 15-year-old male. He’s expected in bond court Wednesday.
Mya, who had been visiting her father for the summer, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen. Richard said he found her lying in an alley about a half block from his home in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court. He told police that he and a relative rushed her to Jackson Park Hospital in Lyons’ van.
Lyons’ attorney, Alan Blumenthal, told the media Tuesday the girl had been sexually assaulted and DNA evidence ruled the father out.
Blumenthal could not be reached for comment.
“This was a horrific crime. Every month we got updates. I kept pestering these guys to bring this case to fruition because a crime like this cannot go unsolved. Make no mistake, this was never a cold case. Area 2 had been working tirelessly. Their investigation was thorough and methodical,” said Weis. "The community must mend from this atrocity."
Ericka Barnes –– Mya’s mother –– and her family went door-to-door in November 2008 on Gilbert Court asking neighbors what they remembered about the hours leading up to when Mya’s body was found.
Most of what neighbors said was also told to the police. But, she lived with the notion that whatever happened to Mya didn’t happen in the alley, she said at the time. She long had her suspicions about Lyons’ guilt, but hoped it wasn’t true.
Barnes fears were realized when she got the call Monday about his arrest.
“It’s a hard blow for her to take, one she’s not sitting with very well because this is the father of her child and you never expect that,” said Dawn Valenti, a spokesperson for Barnes.
Lyons, other relatives and a neighbor submitted DNA samples within days of the Mya’s death. Nearly one week after the murder, police questioned a “person of interest,” but later ruled the man out as a suspect, police said.
Two days after the funeral, a knife was found near where the girl was found. A cleaning crew discovered a kitchen-style knife with a six-inch blade that appeared to have blood on it.
Nearly a month later, Lyons took a lie-detector test, police seized the van he used to drive the girl to the emergency room and searched the family’s home. The van remains in police custody.
Lyons hired an attorney shortly after the search, saying it appeared the police pointed their investigation toward him based on “accusatory remarks” said to him by police during the search.
According to Lt. Brendan Deenihan, who worked on the case, Lyons shut down shortly after Mya was laid to rest.
“After two weeks, the cooperation with him ceased,” Deenihan told reporters.
The lieutenant said a motive hasn’t been determined and a culmination of forensic evidence “points towards” the father
In July 2009, Lyons filed a lawsuit against Metra alleging the transit rail company failed to properly maintain the area where Mya’s body was found. The end of the poorly lit alley where she was found had overgrown weeds near the tracks and in a vacant lot.
Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender