The father of a 9-year-old girl who died in a stabbing more than two years ago has been charged with the crime, police said Tuesday afternoon.
Richard Lyons, 42, was taken into custody Monday on a no-bond warrant in connection to his daughter's unsolved murder. He has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and a separate count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
"This was a horrific crime. Every month we got updates and, you know, I kept pestering these guys to bring this case to fruition because a case like this cannot go unsolved," police Supt. Jody Weis said Tuesday.
Detectives stressed that the sexual abuse charge was from a "completely unrelated" case from 2010 involving a juvenile male.
"We knew where we were headed with this case over a year ago to charge this offender, and based upon what we had, we determined we would bring both cases together," said Lt. Brendan Deenihan.
Contrary to some reports, Deenihan said Mya Lyons was never sexually assaulted.
"Me being a mother, I wanted it to be quick. I wanted someone to be arrested as soon as it happened. I wanted someone to pay. But as time progressed, I said, 'You know, I know why they're taking their time," said the girl's mother, Ericka Barnes.
It was July 14, 2008 when Richard Lyons told police he'd found his daughter’s body in an alley in the 8400 block of South Gilbert with stab wounds to her neck and abdomen. She had been visiting with him for the summer.
Days later, a bloody knife was found in the alley.
Police questioned Lyons early in the investigation, searching his home and confiscating his van, but he was never named a suspect.
At the time, Lyons told a reporter he struggled to understand why police hadn't received more tips in the investigation.
"It’s hard for me to believe that this killing was something that was done so secretly -- that nobody else knew anything about it or that somebody has kept it a secret for so long," Lyons said at the time.
Hundreds of people attended Mya’s funeral, where a personal note from then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was posted.
"I cannot pretend to understand the struggle that you have been forced to endure as a result of this senseless violence...," Obama wrote, adding, "As a parent myself, I can only imagine the unbearable pain you are experiencing as well as the uncertainty of so many questions left unanswered."
Earlier Tuesday, Weis confirmed the arrest but said charges weren't anticipated anytime soon.
"We want to take advantage of the time the law allows us," he said. "This has been a long and painful investigation, and we want to make sure we have all our 't's' crossed and 'i's' dotted."