Mya Lyons’ family begs for justice; services set

This Saturday was supposed to be a family, fun-filled day at Great America for the Lyons family.
That’s no longer the case.
The family of 9-year-old Mya Lyons will lay her to rest instead.

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This Saturday was supposed to be a family, fun-filled day at Great America for the Lyons family. That’s no longer the case. The family of 9-year-old Mya Lyons will lay her to rest instead. Mya, fatally stabbed in the throat and abdomen, was found lying in a poorly-lit dead end alley with overgrown trees about a half block from her father’s home in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court. Her father Richard Lyons discovered her body late Monday. "I lost the most precious thing that anybody could ever have. I believe that it takes a village to raise a child. I also believe it takes a village to find a criminal, so please help me find my baby’s criminal," Lyons said Wednesday after an afternoon prayer march, the second since Mya’s nearly 60-pound body was found. As family, friends and the community prayed and marched, city crews chopped down the overgrown trees and tall weeds on the block and in the alley.

Mya spent Monday like any other summer day–playing with friends. After her and her 14-year-old brother went home later that evening, a neighbor remembers seeing Mya sitting by herself on the family’s porch at around 10 p.m. About an hour later, the family said the girl went to bed. Minutes later, someone heard the back door close. When the father went to check in on Mya and her brothers, the girl was gone. A search ensued in the area, and Lyons’ nightmare began. He and a relative rushed her to Jackson Park Hospital, but she died a couple of hours later. And, based on a preliminary autopsy, sexual assault is unlikely, Chicago Police Department’s Chief of Detectives Thomas Byrne said. "I have been trying to figure out how to tell her little brother she’s not coming back," Mya’s mother, Ericka Barnes, said as she held the girl’s photo close to her heart, pausing several times while trying to maintain composure as she pleaded for the murderer to come forward. "Please, please come forward." Barnes, dressed in pink, her daughter’s favorite color, was comforted by Sabrina Harris, the mother of slain Ryan Harris. Eleven-year-old Harris was raped and murdered in July 1998 in Englewood. Mya’s god sister also made a tearful plea while she read a special message for Mya, whom she said she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to. "You are so special to me. Now that you are gone, I don’t know what to do. I hope the one who has taken your life and took you from your family needs to be in jail for life. I know I should be strong, but I miss you so much," 9-year-old Deja Hudson read from a note handwritten on pink paper. Mya lived with her mother in west suburban Addison but spent summers and every other weekend with Lyons in what both parents said is a quiet neighborhood where everyone on that block knows each other. They also said Mya did not leave voluntarily. She would never leave without telling someone. Scores of Chicago Police Department recruits swarmed the area hours after her death, aiding detectives’ search for anything that could bring them closer to finding Mya’s killer. No suspects are in custody. "We are going to look at every single angle. We are not restricting our investigation at all," Byrne said. DNA samples were taken from the family as part of the investigation. Also part of the investigation is checking into whether a known sex offender, whose last known address is on that block, is linked to the murder. That house has been vacant for a while, neighbors said. During a vigil Tuesday, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), clergy and community leaders offered a $5,500 reward for information leading to an arrest%uFFFD, which the family hopes is imminent. Lyons waited in front of his home Wednesday evening while a candlelight vigil got underway. It was too hard for him to go back to the scene. Other relatives and friends lit candles and prayed in front of a makeshift memorial in the alley. Afterwards, Kublai Toure, executive director of Amer-I-Can Ill., a life management skills organization, said the community needs to start talking. "It’s time to stop professional lip service and time for real action. Real men need to step up. This is our responsibility. Somebody on this block knows who did this. We have to stop this foolishness," Toure said, making his own plea for justice. Services for Mya, who was to start 4th grade at a suburban Glendale Heights school, will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday at Monument of Faith Church, 2750 W. Columbus Ave.

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Main photo (left) by Worsom Robinson/Chicago Defender

Photo (right) courtesy of Lyons family

To see more photos, click here.

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