Highland Park detective found killer after years on the run - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Highland Park detective found killer after years on the run

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Highland Park Detective Paul Thomas found William Lyles, Junior at his parents' house in Oak Park.  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Highland Park Detective Paul Thomas found William Lyles, Junior at his parents' house in Oak Park. (Credit: Fox 2 News)
HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (WJBK) -

A killer roamed the streets for almost three decades, but thanks to a homicide detective in Highland Park, that wanted man was captured and will never be back on the streets again.

William Lyles, Junior was recently sentenced to life in prison without parole, and a family finally got justice after their loved one was murdered.

"He called on the phone, and he said that if it was the last thing he was going to do, he was going to get Melvin," said witness Melissa Kountz.

She was 13 years old and will never forget the threat or what happened next.  Her 28-year-old cousin was brutally murdered by Lyles, her mother's abusive boyfriend, while he slept at their home in Highland Park.

Police said the planning that went into the murder was methodical.  The killer slipped in through a basement window.  He wore sponges on his shoes so he wouldn't be heard.  He even stuck the dog in the freezer.

That little puppy would die in the deep freezer, and Melvin Weathers would die that night, too.  The killer removed a fuse from the fuse box killing the electricity, took the phone off the hook and silently crept upstairs in the pitch black.

"We had a Fingerhut butcher block set that was in the kitchen where he took a knife out for everyone in the house," Kountz explained.

While she and her sister, Kimberly, and their mother slept, Lyles made good on his threat.

"He put a pillow over his face and stabbed him in the chest lung.  Melvin got up and struggled," Kountz said.  "When he was taking his last breath, that was something that I will never forget."

Kountz, her sister and mother ran to a neighbor's house, returning with police and flashlights.

"I could see Melvin [lying] in the threshold of the bedroom where he was killed," she said.  "The look that I saw in his eyes haunted me forever."

Lyles hid out, left the state and was on the run for decades, then last year Kountz called Highland Park Detective Paul Thomas, a former homicide detective with Detroit Police.  She had a list of relatives and possible addresses for Lyles.  Thomas started investigating, and last summer found him sitting on his parents' porch in Oak Park.

"I remember Melissa calling back saying that she got a chill up her spine because that was him, even though a significant amount of years had gone by," said Thomas.

It was 29 years since Weathers was murdered.  Lyles was 61 years old and finally under arrest, prosecuted and sentenced to life in prison thanks to the persistence of child well into adulthood and a detective that wouldn't give up.

"He could've very easily said this didn't happen on my watch, it's not my problem, but he got out there and fought for justice just as Melissa did for all these years," said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Molly Kettler.

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