UPDATED 01/19/11 4:15 p.m..
CHICAGO (CBS) – A South Side father will be held without bond on charges that he fatally stabbed his own 9-year-old daughter 30 times after hitting her with a lock box inside his van in 2008.
Richard Lyons, 42, is facing charges of first-degree murder in the death of his daughter, Mya Lyons.Lyons said he found her body in a dark and weedy alley in the 8400 block of Gilbert Court on July 14, 2008.
As CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, Cook County prosecutors said Mya was beaten with a lockbox found behind her father’s home. She had multiple skull fractures and injuries to her brain. After Mya was beaten, she was suffocated then stabbed more than 30 times.
Prosecutors said that blood spatter evidence found in Lyons’ van and on his clothes link him to the horrific crime. That evidence showed Mya was not killed in the alley where her father said he found her, but inside his van, according to prosecutors.
Forensic investigators worked on the case for 2½ years.
“We wanted to make sure that we felt our investigation was thorough and complete,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said.
Police took photos of the inside of Lyons van on the night Mya died. Police then returned it, only to take it back from Lyons a few days later using a search warrant.
Before that, Lyons had cleaned it with bleach, but a rear window shade had blood on it, prosecutors said.
Lyons’ attorney, Alan Blumenthal, questioned the validity of the blood spatter evidence that allegedly tied Lyons to the case.
“This case is based on pure speculation and blood spatter evidence,” Blumenthal said. “We look forward to challenging the so-called scientific evidence in this case, because as far as I can see now, that’s the only evidence in this case.”
After the murder, Lyons, a radiology technician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, loudly proclaimed his innocence and begged the public day after day to help him find the killer.
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For 2 1/2 years, Barnes agonized over who would sexually assault her daughter and stab the young girl to death. Could it have been her own father?
“I knew this day would come,” Barnes said.
“I believe there is justice and it was justice today in that courtroom,” Barnes said after the bond hearing. “As hard as it was to see the truth, I’m glad that I’m finally getting some closure. … It hurts terribly, but the evidence spoke for itself.”
As CBS 2′s Susanna Song reports, police said they considered Richard Lyons a suspect almost right from the start, his dramatic statements of grief after the murder notwithstanding.
Richard Lyons became choked up with emotion as he spoke to CBS 2 in 2008. “No matter how much you think you can protect them; that you can hold them; that you can keep them safe, it’s just not true,” he said. “This is an evil world with evil people in it.”
Ultimately, police said the results of forensic tests helped break the case.
“It took 2 1/2 years to work up all the evidence completely; that’s how much evidence was gathered in the case,” said Calumet Area police Lt. Brendan Deenihan. “So it wasn’t one piece of evidence.”
If Lyons is convicted of the murder, Barnes says she hopes she can forgive him.
“I pray to God that I do, because I feel like I have to, to continue to live,” she said.
On Wednesday morning, a community activist urged the public not to rush to judgment. He said this case could prove similar to an infamous case in Will County in which a father was wrongfully charged with the murder of his daughter.
“Let’s be very patient with this case, because we’ve seen this before, in the Fox case in Will County – a dad being accused of murder,” Sistrunk said, “and then if the evidence; if the jury finds Richard guilty, then God forgive him and God bless his soul.”
In 2004, Kevin Fox was charged with the murder of his 3-year-old daughter, Riley, who was found in a creek in Wilmington, Ill. He spent eight months in jail before DNA evidence showed he was not her killer, and he said Will County sheriff’s investigators coerced a false confession from him.
In a case unrelated to Mya’s murder, Lyons was also charged with sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy in June.