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Knife found near girl's murder site

Monday, July 21, 2008

Investigators are trying to determine if a knife recovered near the site where a 9-year-old girl was stabbed to death last week is connected to the case.

The investigation into Mya Lyons' death appears to be back to square one now that police released a man they had been questioning about the crime.

Mya was murdered a week ago Monday. She left her father's home, police say, of her own volition around 11 p.m., after which her father found Mya's body in a darkened alley at the end of the street.

A person of interest questioned extensively by police has been released, but police and Mya's father say they are confident the killer will be found.

A clean up crew hired by the city was clearing a lot Monday morning several hundred feet from where Mya's body was found. Shakir Lee, an intern, bent down to pick up a tree branch and found underneath it a kitchen knife with a six-inch blade.

"It did look life a fresh knife," Lee said. "Others look kind of rusty, but this wasn't rusty."

Lee told his supervisor, who called police. Investigators say the knife will be processed but don't know if it's the murder weapon. It was found in an area that was searched by police cadets last week, but since then, much of the brush has been cleaned out.

Mya's funeral was held Saturday, and her family, amidst their grief, was somewhat hopeful that police were on the verge of an arrest, but investigators over the weekend released a person of interest they had been questioning. They say he is not linked to the killing.

Mya's father said that development was disappointing, but he's not given up hope.

"One of the detectives told me, 'This is a hard case. It's honestly gonna be hard. If you don't hear anything, that doesn't mean we're not working. We're working and working hard,'" said father Richard Lyons.

Solving the brutal murder of a 9-year-old girl may well turn on DNA. Investigators obtained DNA swabs from numerous residents on Gilbert Court, where the murder occurred - even those who police have no reason to suspect of any wrongdoing.

"He said I didn't have to, but I volunteered because I know I didn't do nothing," said neighbor Clifford Braxton.

Richard Lyons said he wanted to thank everyone who he says have been so supportive of his family.

"I'm confident that whomever did this, the light will be shined on them. They will be flushed out," he said.

Processing DNA samples takes time, though in high-profile cases they can be turned around more quickly presuming investigators have something from the killer, such as blood or hair, that will offer up a DNA profile.

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