Man who killed teenage girl 20 years ago sent to prison
Monday, January 26, 2009 12:53 PM
By Mary Beth Lane
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Lendy William Dysart, left, and Stacy Fairchild
LANCASTER, Ohio -- It took police nearly 20 years to find him. Now the man who killed 17-year-old Stacy Fairchild Feb. 2, 1989 and left her body submerged in the Hocking River is going to be in prison for up to 35 years.
Judge Richard E. Berens sentenced 45-year-old Lendy William Dysart this morning to 7-to-25-years in prison. Although Dysart would be eligible to ask for parole sooner, the judge said he will recommend to parole authorities that Dysart serve the full 25 years. Dysart was sentenced after pleading guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter.
The judge ordered that Dysart serve the sentence consecutive to a flat 10-year sentence that he began serving last year for an armed robbery in Lancaster.
Stacy would be 37 now. Her image remains that of a pretty, smiling Lancaster High School senior in the portrait that her father, David Fairchild, held up toward Dysart. Dysart did not look up once, but kept his eyes downcast as Stacy's parents, her brother and a stream of high school friends stepped up to a podium in the courtroom to face him and tell him what the loss of Stacy meant to them.
Stacy was killed the night of Feb. 2, 1989 when she left her after-school job at the Deb Shop at the River Valley Mall. Her body was found in the river Feb. 5.
Stacy was raped, police investigatory records show. Police kept that detail secret for nearly 20 years as they looked for Stacy's killer. It was a detail only the killer would know.
The investigation grew to 12 thick binders filled with painstakingly filed paperwork and heart-breaking crime-scene photos. Stacy was still wearing her high school class ring and her senior class pendant, both inscribed with her initials SDF, when her partially clothed body was found submerged in the frigid river.
Lancaster police chased every lead they got. Investigators interviewed Stacy's boyfriend, friends and relatives, conducting polygraphs on some, and taking and testing DNA samples from 13 of them. There were no matches.
The crime shocked the community. Lancaster was a small, friendly city unaccustomed to having the body of a teen-age girl discovered in the Hocking River.
Frightened people telephoned in tips, reporting a cross-dressing man at the mall who looked suspicious. Others called in to report assorted oddballs who they thought could be the killer. A psychic volunteered help, and an occult specialist offered analysis. Rumors persisted that women were being attacked in the mall parking lot by a man who lay beneath their cars and slit their ankles with a knife. Police tried to calm the public and quiet the rumors as they searched for the killer.
The FBI worked up a profile: White male from mid-20s to early 30s; a stranger to the victim; "very doubtful" that he was interviewed by police.
Dysart was not among the hundreds of people that police interviewed. Twenty-five at the time, married with children, he was hiding in plain sight at the family's home at 316 Hunter Ave. just a couple of blocks from where Stacy's wallet was found, as it turned out. But no one knew that then.
It was not until 2006, when police caught an unemployed crack-cocaine addict named Lendy William Dysart breaking into Sierra Metals, that they made the first break in the cold case, though they did not yet know that.
Dysart was convicted in April 2007 and served six months in prison, where his DNA sample was collected and saved in a database. On Sept. 4, 2007, the very day that Dysart got out of prison, Lancaster police got a call from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
A bureau analysis had matched the DNA evidence from an unsolved 2006 robbery at Network Tan and Video in Lancaster to DNA evidence from the unsolved Stacy Fairchild case, and both matched the DNA sample taken from Dysart while he was in prison.
Four days later, Lancaster police went to the house at 316 Hunter Ave., found Dysart asleep in a bedroom and arrested him.
"All this work," said Sgt. Mike Peters recently, leaning over the thick binders dating from 1989 heaped on his desk, "and it boiled down to a few things."
Lancaster police, including some detectives who worked the case and are now long retired, were among the throng that crowded into the courtroom this morning. The benches were packed with family and friends of Stacy.
Her father said he was satisfied with the sentence.
"It was important to us that he got taken off the street for as long as possible,' Mr. Fairchild said.