UPDATED 01/18/11 10:42 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Two and a half years after his 9-year-old daughter Mya was brutally stabbed to death with a knife in an alley near his South Side home, Richard Lyons was charged with her murder Tuesday.
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Two and a half years after his 9-year-old daughter Mya was brutally stabbed to death with a knife in an alley near his South Side home, Richard Lyons was charged with her murder Tuesday.
The 42-year-old Northwestern Hospital radiology technician — who loudly proclaimed his innocence in the days and weeks after Mya’s body was found in a dark and weedy alley in the 8400 block of Gilbert Court on July 14, 2008 — was arrested without incident at work Monday, police said.
News that he’d been charged with killing Mya hit the girl’s mother, Ericka Barnes, “like a punch in her stomach,” family friend Dawn Valenti said.Barnes had supported Lyons in the aftermath of the slaying of the little girl and is struggling to come to terms with the idea that “possibly the man who helped her bring this child into the world could be involved,” Valenti said.
Police said that there was no single breakthrough in the case that allowed charges to be filed, but that “scientific evidence” linked Lyons to the killing.
“This was never a cold case,” Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said, praising the “thorough and methodical” work of detectives for bringing charges in what he said was “a horrific crime.”
“I kept pestering these guys to bring this case to fruition,” Weis said, adding that the detectives were “simply unrelenting.”
Lt. Brendan Deenihan said the officers took “the case home with them every day,” because it involved a little girl, but that they were unable to establish a motive.
Mya lived with her mother in suburban Addison, but spent summers with Lyons at his home in Auburn-Gresham.
Lyons told police he found her body in the alley, put her in a van and drove her to Jackson Park Hospital, while his uncle, a nurse, tended to her in the back.
He initially cooperated with police, submitting to a lie detector test and giving a DNA sample before detectives searched his house and van.
But two weeks after Mya died, he hired an attorney, Alan Blumenthal, and clammed up.
And in 2009 he filed a lawsuit against Metra, alleging the railway operator had failed to cut back brush in the area where Mya was found, and thus “provided cover for criminal activity.” A witness heard “sex noises” coming from the area shortly before Mya’s body was discovered but assumed it was a prostitute and did not intervene, the suit alleges.
Blumenthal Tuesday repeated the allegation that Mya’s killer sexually assaulted her, saying the case against Lyons was based on “speculation.” But police said there is no evidence of a sex attack.
Lyons was also charged Tuesday with aggravated sexual abuse involving a 15-year-old boy from an unrelated incident in June of last year, police said. He is due in court Wednesday.